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Way Too Early Fantasy Analysis: Kyle Pitts

It is far, far too early for fantasy football analysis.  We just found out who teams are playing against but with little to no injuries about injuries and contract holdouts or the like, it is hard to come up with cogent arguments.  

This series will review the value of specific rookies and as we are far out I will focus on rookies who are the most likely to have a starting role, who will have one from the get go and how I believe that will project outward. At the end, I will indicate where I think the given player SHOULD be drafted.  This way, if you miss out on the player because someone pulled the trigger too prematurely, you can smirk and pick someone more valuable when the pick comes around to you. Likewise, if the player no one believes in falls to you, it’s time for a mental fist-pump.

***before we get started each week I will remind everyone that the analysis in this series is based on regular, season-long point per reception scoring. It also assumes you play in a 12 team league***

Kyle Pitts is confusing to me. In all honesty, I think his hype will have him drafted too high for my taste in most drafts. I struggle to see any leagues where he will fall to me. 

He was the best athlete of the draft.  Much like DK Metcalf’s Terminator-chiseled body was the talk of the draft, Kyle Pitts’ athleticism took us all aboard the hype train.  In a just world Pitts should come in and dominate. However, armed with what we’ve seen in the first years of athletic tight ends, this may be a little too optimistic. Here are the rookie tight ends who have been drafted in the first two rounds since 2017

Cole Kmet (2020): Position Rank- 43 ppg: 2.1

TJ Hockenson (2019): Position Rank-32 ppg: 4.1 

Mike Geisicki (2018): Position Rank- 63 ppg: 1.1

Dallas Goedert (2018): Position Rank- 20 ppg: 3.6

OJ Howard (2017): Position Rank- 17 ppg: 5.4

Evan Engram (2017): Position Rank- 5 ppg: 7.1

David Njoku (2017): Position Rank- 22 ppg: 3.9

Gerald Everett (2017): Position Rank- 37 ppg: 2.2

Adam Shaheen (2017): Position Rank- 44 ppg: 2.4

*I may have missed someone but that’s the breaks; if you don’t like it feel free to start your own Blog/Podcast company

So with the exception of Evan Engram, no tight end drafted in the top two rounds has finished the season in the top ten (on a points per game basis). Evan Engram’s finish is also not particularly that impressive when you consider that Tyler Croft finished outside the top 10 that season and averaged less than 2 points per game less than Engram.  Either way, Engram’s 7.1 ppg were not what won you the championship that season had you drafted him that season.

Engram himself is a decent comp in that both guys are freak athletes, both Pitts and Engram had a lot of pre-draft, off-season hype and both are considered to be hybrid, tight end/slot receiver hybrids. Now, Pitts was certainly drafted higher than the Giants drafted Engram, additionally, if you trust the eye-test it’s clear that Pitts is a cut above.

Pitts also finds himself on a team with Matt Ryan, who is a very good quarterback on a pass happy offense. The team’s cap situation has made it so that they NEED to move on from Julio Jones. This makes him a clear number two for target share after Calvin Ridley.  We’ve also seen athletic tight ends be effective as red zone targets for Matt Ryan (Austin Hooper and Heayden Hurst in back to back seasons).

Tight end is a difficult position to project. Very few are set it and forget it players, from a practical standpoint, the position has blocking and pass catching requirements which make learning the playbook difficult and the difference between a top tier player and a second tier player is massive. Last year the difference between Travis Kelce who ended as the number 1 ranked tight end and Rob Gronkoski who finished 10th was a difference of 7.4 points per game. The difference between Gronk and the 47th ranked Cameron Brate was only 4 points per game.  As you can imagine the field narrows quickly.

So we know there will be an elite group of Tight ends, Kelce, Kittle and Waller will lead the pack.  Those three will likely be off the board by the middle/end of the fourth round.  The next group are guys who are less exciting but have promise. Mark Andrews leads this group and it features guys like Evan Engram, Mike Gesicki and TJ Hockenson. Here is the area where it may make sense to take a chance.  

We’ve seen tight ends take a while to develop. Gesicki seems to be a fairly safe bet as does Andrews but Hockenson and Engram sorta seem safe but boring, so why not take a chance on a guy who may be the next unguardable force in the NFL. If it doesn’t work out, you may be able to pick up a young tight end who’s primed for a break out.

Summary

Where should you draft Kyle Pitts: After the elite guys are gone, you likely can wait until you hear the names Gesicki and Andrews fall off the board. At that point, you can take a chance on the upside and be ready to ride the wire if it doesn’t pan out. If the hype train goes off the rails, remember that one of the other names should fall to you and will be safer in that range. 

Quick Analysis: There is upside, but it is risky. I don’t normally like rostering multiple tighend in standard PPR formats.  However, if it pans out Pitts may help you win your league.  Hedging your bet with an undrafted second year tight end like Cole Kmet or Harrison Bryant may be the play.  The opportunities will exist for Pitts. It will come down to target share vs. execution. 

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