Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is out for Sunday night’s game against the Cardinals, the team announced on Friday evening.

Initially reports emerged that Gronk would not be on the team flight to Arizona. Then reports emerged on late Friday that Gronk was expected to miss the game.

It almost felt like the Pats might be playing with the NFL because of the Tom Brady suspension (first four games of the year, courtesy of Deflategate) and the new injury report rules.

But this is very much a code-red situation for everyone involved. Let’s look at who’s affected.

The Patriots

It can’t be overstated how big of an effect this has on the Pats. Their offense goes from Brady-less to borderline impotent, with Gronk now missing as well. That’s unfair, but it’s not unreasonable. Maybe Martellus Bennett has a monster game. Maybe Jimmy Garoppolo is able to piece together a nice performance without the best non-quarterback offensive weapon in football at his disposal (Trevor Siemian did OK!).

But the Pats are in trouble here. It’s also entirely possible — if you believe in conspiracy theories — that the Pats would prefer to hold Gronk out for this game against a difficult opponent rather than risk him suffering additional injury.

Bill Belichick understands the importance of the long haul. There are four different seasons inside each season. This game is big but is not the biggest.

Fantasy Owners

Pretty big here, if you’re willing to accept that a) Fantasy football is huge in this country and b) Gronk was a first-round pick in every single league.

If Bennett is available on your waiver wire, bust a move immediately. (Why are you still reading?)

If Bennett is not there and you own Gronk, you’re scrambling. First things first, listen to CBS Sports Jamey Eisenberg and go grab Clive Walford (I drafted Gronk early in one league and this is the move, trust me).

If Walford is also gone, CBS Sports Dave Richard has you covered with a piece on how to replace Gronk.

Vegas/Picks Leagues

So if you were thinking about taking the Patriots plus-5.5 or plus-6.5 in your picks league, you should probably change that. New England could still cover. They’re a great football team with a great football coach who has spent the past six months preparing for Sunday. Their defense will be ready to play and they’ll have an offensive gameplan. Bill Belichick doesn’t lose a lot of football games.

But let’s be realistic: The Cardinals are a great football team too. They’re loaded across the board and they’re being handed the biggest possible advantage you could get in the toughest possible matchup you could get. Bruce Arians is going to tell these guys how important this opportunity is and to not think they’re winning because of the people missing.

New England is in a bad spot. They won’t wave a white flag on a game in a 16-week season, but this might not be too far off from Gregg Popovich resting all his starters against the Warriors or Cavs late in the season. It’s a rational move.

Make sure you’re leveraging the Cardinals and the points here. It’s probably off the board, but give it a look.

Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Patriots rule out Rob Gronkowski for Sunday’s game against Cardinals