As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each week of DFS, injuries are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into the starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, or simply a change to the depth chart.

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Scott Chandler — TE, New England Patriots

First of all, that was a hell of a game we saw between the Patriots and Broncos on SNF. It seriously was one of the best regular season games in years.

Second of all, GRONK!

As soon as it seemed like the Pats couldn’t have any worse luck with injuries, there’s Rob Gronkowski, rolling around in the snow holding his knee. His season appeared to be over until we caught a peek at the replay. Thanks to Gronk’s foot not being planted in the turf, he saved himself from what likely would have been a gruesome knee injury.

Gronk is now week-to-week. Some reports have him not missing a game and playing Sunday against Philly, but in all likelihood, this will cost Gronk a couple games. If there’s any player not named Tom Brady that New England needs to be cautious with, it’s Gronk. With an undefeated season out the window, and the Super Bowl now the only thing of importance to Brady and crew, let’s assume the Pats don’t rush him back. Scott Chandler figures to be the very busy next man up.

Chandler was brought to New England via Buffalo for two reasons. The first reason was to provide depth to the offense. Having another big, pass catching TE could only help Tom Brady. So far, Chandler had been a bust in that role. Sharing the field with Gronk, Chandler only managed four games with double-digit yards heading into Week 12 (his season high was 39 yards).

Yardage is one thing, but Chandler was certainly brought in to at least be a red zone target. However, only two touchdown catches thought 10 games (both for just one yard) simply hadn’t been good enough.

New England was hoping that the second reason Chandler was acquired never came into play, but it was a reason nonetheless — if Gronk were to get hurt. Well, that’s happened, and it feels like Chandler is going to get some time as the Pats’ top TE (and somehow, potentially top target). It couldn’t come at a more desperate time as well, with Julian Edelman out and Danny Amendola banged up.

Chandler stepped up when his name was called in Denver, reeling in five balls (on 11 targets) for 58 yards and a TD (all season-highs). No matter how depleted New England’s pass-catching core is and no matter how many targets it leads to for Chandler, he’s never going to be Gronk. But in the meantime, he’s a very strong fantasy option, especially against the Eagles in Week 13.

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