Fantasy Upside Although George Kittle ranks third in our fantasy rankings, he's number two on Pro Football Focus staffer Ben Linsey's analytics-based rankings. The only thing keeping Kittle from the top spot in Linsey's rankings was an injury-limited 2020 season. "Kittle still imposed his will as both a receiver and blocker when on the field in 2020. The issue was that he was only on the field for eight games, missing significant time with a broken bone in his foot. Since 2018, Kittle is the highest-graded tight end in the NFL (93.4) on the back of the highest receiving grade at the position (93.7) and third-highest run-blocking grade (78.0). Unlike Chiefs' TE Travis Kelce, the majority of his damage comes inline, where Kyle Shanahan does as good of a job as any coach in the NFL at creating mismatches in coverage. Kittle's 1,811 receiving yards when lined up inline since 2018 are over 500 more than any other tight end." Beyond that, in the eight games he was active, Kittle averaged 7.9 targets, 79.3 yards and 15.6 fantasy points. Projected over a full season, Kittle would have finished with 96 catches, 1,284 yards and 250 fantasy points.
Fantasy Downside In most cases, drafting fantasy players coming off an injury-riddled season is cause for concern. And as noted above, Kittle missed eight games with knee and foot injuries in 2020.
2021 Bottom Line While he doesn't historically score as many touchdowns as Kelce, Kittle's penchant for the big play (higher career yards per catch than Kelce) and YAC yardage boost his fantasy value to among the best tight ends in football. Kittle could challenge for the TE top spot with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo (or dynamic Trey Lance) behind center.