Why Aaron Hernandez Is an Absolute Must Start for Week 12 Fantasy Football

Jeremy SickelContributor IIINovember 18, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 21: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts with Aaron Hernandez #81 after a touchdown pass to teammate Rob Gronkowski #87 against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

New England Patriots' tight end Aaron Hernandez was held out of Sunday's 59-24 win over the Andrew Luck-led Indianapolis Colts. He has now missed three straight games and a total of six on the 2012 season.

Had Hernandez been able to suit up Sunday, there is no doubt he would have been a huge part of quarterback Tom Brady's statistical display. Instead, fellow bookend Rob Gronkowski tallied seven receptions for 137 yards and two scores.

The Patriots offense runs through the tight end. When both Gronkowski and Hernandez are healthy, the tandem is very difficult to stop.

Ironically, as Hernandez gets healthier—and hopes to return on Thanksgiving against the New York Jets—it is being reported by USA Today that Gronkowski suffered a broken forearm and will be out of action for the next four to six weeks.

Assuming Hernandez is a go for Thursday night, his value to the Patriots and in fantasy leagues just skyrocketed.

When healthy, the University of Florida product has put up very solid numbers. Hernandez has 141 receptions for 1,616 yards and 15 touchdowns in 30 games played.

The problem has always been his ability—or lack thereof—to stay on the field.

It is safe to assume that Gronkowski wouldn't be as productive to this point in his career had Hernandez not missed so many games over the last three seasons. It is now Hernandez's chance to show what he is capable of in the spotlight.

How that affects Brady and the Patriots offense remains to be seen. Fantasy owners, however, should ride Hernandez through the home stretch and into the playoffs.


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