San Francisco 49ers’ Pro-Bowl tight end George Kittle had a record-setting year in 2018. It’s scary to think that he could put up even better numbers this season with the added talent around him.
Last season, Kittle put up an outstanding 88 receptions, 1,377 receiving yards and five touchdowns in his stat line. He was the No. 1 target on the team despite playing the tight end position.
Fast forward to 2019 and not much has changed.
Sure, the 49ers have added some talent to the wide receiver position, but none of these additions should cut into Kittle’s targets. They should actually help to open up the middle of the field where Kittle thrives.
Kittle had a record-breaking year for a tight end, yet he still has yet to reach his ceiling. He played the majority of the season with backup quarterbacks. If starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo can play all 16 games, Kittle has the opportunity to improve on his 2018 stat line.
Kittle is currently being drafted 26th overall, or a third-round, second pick, average draft position (ADP) in ESPN fantasy leagues. This is assuming you play in a standard 12-team league. While this is a premium price to spend on a tight end, Kittle is well worth it.
This year, more than ever, it is best advised to secure two running backs in the first two rounds. If a top receiver like Michael Thomas from the New Orleans Saints or Davante Adams from the Green Bay Packers are available they, of course, need to be considered as well.
After those first two rounds, taking Kittle is a good strategy. Last season, Kittle scored 258.7 fantasy football points to finish as the third best tight end overall behind the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and Philadelphia Eagles’ Zach Ertz. The 12th best fantasy tight end (last tight end that would be worth starting in a 12-team league) was Green Bay’s Jimmy Graham who scored a total of 130.6 points.
That’s a difference of 128 points!
For comparison, the third-highest scoring wide receiver was Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill who tallied 328 fantasy points total. The 12th best wide receiver was the Los Angeles Chargers’ Keenan Allen who totaled 260 points for the year. A difference of just 68 points.
Fantasy experts believe the drastic disparity in the tight end position will continue in 2019. This gives a huge advantage to whoever drafts Kelce, Ertz or Kittle.
Going with Kittle in the third round and filling in your receiver positions later can be a good strategy. A team with Kittle as its No. 1 TE and Allen as its No. 1 WR would have outscored a team with Graham as its No. 1 TE and Hill as its No. 1 WR by almost five points per game (4.8 to be exact).
An extra 4.8 points per game could be the difference between your fantasy football team making the playoffs or not.
Fantasy football championships are won by getting players at a better end of the year value than you drafted them at. Even though Kittle is no longer a late-round draft-pick steal, his current ADP is still worth drafting him in Round 3.
Drafting a tight end early is best if you can secure two workhorse running backs first. This strategy is less effective if you have to go RB-WR or WR-RB in the first two rounds.
All the above 2018 point totals come from Fantasypros and are reflective of a point per reception (PPR) scoring system.