When the Pats traded a 4th round pick to the Indianapolis Colts on March 9th for Dwayne Allen it was a clear sign we didn't expect to keep Martellus Bennett around for another season of Dancing With the Cheerleaders. A day later, Bennett was gone, signing with the Green Bay Packers. As a multiple season owner of Martysaurus in fantasy football, I was sad to see him go. But at the price he was going to demand on the open market, combined with the addition of Allen, I was able to dry my tears. Then camp started...
Allen couldn't reel in a Tom Brady pass to save his life. By his own admission, his conditioning was that of a 8th grader assuming he can take the summer off because he's already in good enough shape to keep up with the high school kids. "It's one of those things where you have an offseason where you're training, you're doing well, you're thinking that you've trained and prepared enough, and then you come into OTAs and it's like, 'Oh my goodness, I have not trained enough.'" When asked if his play is at the level it needs to be he said, "I'm at little bit better than horrible."
Here's the thing. I have some inside sources, so this stat may surprise you, but Rob Gronkowski isn't the healthiest dude on earth. I love me a good Gronk spike as much as the next guy but at this point in my life, for the sake of my mental stability, I don't expect him to play more than half the season. Ever. Anything beyond that is gravy. So these guys we bring in as TE2 have a lot of pressure on them because I kinda need them to be able to handle the load. When we signed Bennett I had visions of the early Gronk/Aaron Hernandez two pronged attack. It didn't quite come to fruition, but I think we can all agree the Pats offense would have been in dire straits when Gronk went down if Marty wasn't here.
Marty finished the season with 55 catches for 701 yards, both the third highest totals of his career, to go along with 7 tuddies, his highest mark ever. He added 11 catches for 98 yards in 3 playoff games. Considering every single one of those numbers would be career records for Allen, we can kiss that kind of production goodbye from the jump. But we don't exactly need that. In the six games Gronk was on the field, Bennett finished with 28 catches for 336 yards and 3 tuddies. In the 13 games without Gronk, he had 38 catches for 433 yards and 4 tuddies. It clearly got harder on him when Gronk wasn't out there drawing double coverage, but he allowed us to keep running the same offensive sets we wanted to run.
The best year of Allen's career was his rookie campaign, and then after missing essentially all of his sophomore season, he's been trying to regain his form. Last season was his best since, (helped by the departure of Coby Fleener) to the tune of 35 catches for 406 yards and 6 tuddies. Is that gonna cut it? Hard to say. If you get a healthy Gronk for 19 games (Spoiler alert! You wont) then yes, I take that stat line to the bank right now and open up a savings account with it. Without Gronk, I'm not sure Dwayne gives us what we need. After all, he's a block first TE with upside as a receiver. My hope is that Tom adjusts to Allen's 6'3" frame (3 and 4 inches shorter than Gronk and Marty respectively) and the two get on the same page in the red area. Because the only number that's at all appealing to me from Allen's stat line is that tuddy mark. When the field shrinks and we can't rely on taking the top off of defenses, I need a big body I can trust. ESPECIALLY if (when) Gronk dies. If he does that, then he's done his job. And we know how important doing your job is to the Patriots.