Kyle Pitts is currently being drafted at the 47th pick in fantasy football per Underdog Fantasy ADP but, is the rookie worth his third-round price tag? Let’s find out!
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Evan Engram is the best comparison we have to Kyle Pitts as a Tight End headed into the NFL. Both excel at speed for their position running a 40 yard dash of 4.4, have a vertical of 33″ (Pitts) and 36″ (Engram), and are similar in height and weight. Comparable body type and measurables for their position.
Evan Engram tallied 115 targets in his rookie season (per StatMuse) converting 64 of those targets into receptions for 722 yards and 6 touchdowns. A big note for Engram’s rookie year production in 2017, Odell Beckham Jr. only played 4 games due to injury and the only receiver to amass more than 72 targets was Sterling Shepard. Engram was the best target for the Giants and we can’t say the same for Kyle Pitts with Calvin Ridley as the WR1 on the team.
We shouldn’t expect 115 targets in 16 games for Kyle Pitts but, there are parallels between what Kyle Pitts and Evan Engram bring to the table out of college.
Same kind of comparison as Evan Engram here. Big body Tight End with elite speed and receiving skills. However, the target share dynamic may be a better comparison for Kyle Pitts in 2021.
In 2019, Denver trotted out Joe Flacco to begin the season before handing the starting quarterback job to Drew Lock and Brandon Allen. Overall, not the best situation for a rookie Tight End. For Kyle Pitts, Matt Ryan is as upgrade compared to Noah Fant’s quarterback situation in 2019.
In 2019, Noah Fant accumulated 66 targets while Courtland Sutton benefited from 125 targets. This is likely closer to what we will see from the Falcons’ offense in 2021 with Calvin Ridley as the clear WR1 and Kyle Pitts sliding into the “Robin” role to Ridley’s “Batman.”
Something that makes Kyle Pitts enticing is the security that Atlanta will throw the football at a high rate. In 2020, Atlanta ranked 4th in pass attempts and 20th in rush attempts per StatMuse. With a backfield led by Mike Davis, it’s hard to envision Atlanta shifting to a more run-heavy philosophy. The volume should be there for Kyle Pitts.
Calvin Ridley should see the largest market share on the Falcons in 2021. In his career, Ridley has seen 10+ targets in 6 of his 8 games without Julio Jones on the field. That’ll likely be good for a 25%+ market share during the season.
That leaves Pitts in a #2 role in the offense without a ton of talent behind him. Other receiving threats on Atlanta include Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Cordarrelle Patterson, Hayden Hurst, and Mike Davis. Pitts is clearly more talented than those options but, I’d expect Matt Ryan to spread the ball around amongst those targets.
Let’s say Pitts gets 100 targets in this offense. It’s possible with a 17 game season and playing a full season. That would give him between 5-7 targets per game which is solid volume for a Tight End. If he converts 60% of those targets into receptions, that gives Pitts between 3-4 receptions per game. That is not the volume you want out of a third-round pick.
Per the NFL Season Long Study Hub, Atlanta Tight Ends only received just over 6 targets per game.
If you are drafting Kyle Pitts at the end of the third-round, you are sacrificing upside you could be getting at other positions. Lets take a look at who is being drafted in Kyle Pitt’s range on Underdog:
Every player on this list has tournament/league winning upside. Wide Receiver in this range is noticeably deep. What would you be sacrificing if you take Kyle Pitts?
Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins – They should be the top two targets for Joe Burrow in a Cincinnati offense that will likely be forced to pass a lot late in games due to game flow. Joe Burrow did not have a game where he threw less than 30 passes last season. Both Higgins and Chase have big play upside and should have a 7-9 target volume.
Miles Sanders – This is dependent on the beginning of the draft for me. If I have 2 solid running backs, I’m fine passing on Sanders here. It should be noted that Sanders saw an increase in production with Jalen Hurts seeing 13 targets in three games and finding the end zone 3 times. He’s a solid RB2 option.
Adam Thielen – Thielen is a volatile option but, he has the upside to win you weeks when Minnesota is forced to throw the football. He saw 10+ targets in four games last season and is a red zone threat for the Vikings. This really comes down to how you value Thielen but, I am willing to pass on him in this range.
Diontae Johnson – Johnson was a target monster last season seeing 10+ targets in eleven games in 2020. The Pittsburgh offense does have competition for targets with Chase Claypool and Juju Smith-Schuster but, it appears Jonson is the clear WR1.
Josh Allen – Allen is currently QB2 in ADP and he should be. The passing volume and rushing upside is there. No problem taking Allen in this range if you’re looking to go Quarterback early.
Michael Thomas – New Orleans’s Quarterback situation is shaky with the competition between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston and Thomas will be out to start the season. The upside is there but, this would be a volatile pick.
Brandon Aiyuk – The second year receiver blossomed at the end of 2020 racking up at least 9 targets from weeks 8-15. This should come down a bit with a healthy George Kitlle but, Aiyuk is San Francisco’s top down-the-field threat and their WR1. There’s a ton of upside here.
If you draft Kyle Pitts at his current ADP, you are sacrificing upside at Wide Receiver when you could get the same volume from later round Tight Ends like Robert Tonyan and Jared Cook. I’ll be passing on Kyle Pitts at his current late third round price tag.
Photo Credit: Curtis Compton