Bust to Lust- Tight Ends
The Bust To Lust series continues with the Tight End position.
We all know the Tight End position isn’t really up to much after Kelce but it’s worth keeping an eye on a few guys just in case you can’t get the big man.
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
After so much hype before the 2020 season, Kittle and the 49ers had a season to forget. Kittle was in and out of the line up all season with a number of lower leg and foot injuries. Because of this, Kittle only played in 8 games. One of which was week 17.
In the games that Kittle actually played, he was still doing Kittle things. That is, getting a great amount of targets and receptions. In 4 of the 8 games Kittle scored over 10 points in a half point PPR format. One of these was a 20 point game and another got him 32 points.
In those two high scoring games, Kittle racked up 109 receiving yards and 183 receiving yards – with a TD in each. In week 16, Kittle just missed out on a third 100 yard game, getting 92 yards. Bear in mind, he did this whilst in and out of the starting lineup due to those injuries.
Kittle managed to show us that, when uninjured, he’s still a massive force to be reckoned with. For those 8 games, Kittle picked up 48 receptions for 634 yards giving him a nice average of 13.2 yards per reception. That’s right up there with Kelce’s 13.5 average, and better than Waller’s 11.2 average. Both of them came 1st and 2nd in the TE rankings.
The 49ers head into 2021 with even more going for them than last year. They still have a capable QB in Jimmy G behind centre, but also have a brand new shiny QB to challenge him. Either way, Kittle has connected with his multiple QB’s for well over 1000 yards in the 2018 and 2019 season. With him healthy, the 49ers have a lot to look forward to.
Not only that, but in both 2018 and 2019, Kittle was targeted over 100 times in both seasons. So when we talk about being in half point PPR leagues, you are delighted to see that extra volume helping with the reception rate. Even with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk in the same offence, I don’t see Kittle slipping from the number 1 target any time soon.
Right now, Kittle is going at the back end of the 2nd round of drafts as the 23rd player off the board. That puts him as the Tight End 3, just behind Waller. It might be too high to be grabbing a Tight End, I hear you shout. But averaging out targets over the last few years doesn’t just put Kittle up there with the best Tight Ends. He also ranks as one of the best Wide Receivers.
If you are looking for a volume player with something to prove, then you need to be investing in Kittle. Pull the trigger on the pick even if it feels like a reach in drafts, because that volume and his ability is key.
Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns
Over the past few years, the rise of the Browns has been building year on year. Last year, they took that next step and got themselves a playoff spot. They even got a playoff win to top off a crazy 2020 season.
Jumping on the Browns train isn’t something I would ever do. However, for fantasy purposes, it’s worth looking at their team. It’s set up to carry on where it finished last season.
I can understand the sceptical view that Hooper could be a fantasy asset. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are working well in the backfield. Odell Beckham Jnr and Jarvis Landry are competent Wide Receivers. And, after his first year in Cleveland, it’s easy to see why we could write Austin Hooper off.
Outside of the top 3, the Tight End position was virtually non-existent last season. And the Browns added to that last season, with very little going the Tight End’s way. The offensive set up last year was ‘run first, then throw later’ – and that was mainly going to Landry.
CHANGE IT UP
The key here is that the Browns can no longer stick to one-dimensional football. They WILL get found out. But Baker has shown he has the ability to be the leader of a passing offence. And, when the Browns move away from run-first, Odell and Landry are taking those targets.
But even then, the NFL will soon catch up to that scheme as well. So mixing it up has to be the way. This is where Hooper steps in. Another year in the system (one with an actual pre-season) will massively help build a connection between Hooper and Baker. And that could start making things happen.
By the end of last season Hooper was beginning to get more targets. When he did, he put together three games with over 10 half ppr points to see out the season. He also picked up 2 TD’s in those final 3 games.
Hooper’s ADP right now in half point PPR leagues is around the 225th overall pick. That averages out around the back end of the 14th round. At this point in the draft you are going for late round flyers – and that goes for late round Tight Ends too. Grabbing some upside here is a great option, even if it’s to cover a bye-week.
Irv Smith, Minnesota Vikings
Irv had a lot of hype going into the 2020 season. However, performances failed to match the buzz. This was largely due to fellow Tight End Kyle Rudolph, who took most of the work away from Smith.
Sure, along the way Smith picked up the odd fantasy point here and there. But two touchdowns in week 9 got the third-year Tight End his best fantasy score up until that point.
There were more positives to come, mainly in the final four games of the season. Rudolph wasn’t in the games and Smith was given the opportunity to succeed. Those final four games had him targeted in dangerous areas, and he picked up 3 touchdowns
Eventually, speculation around Rudolph making way for him resolved itself, as the veteran moved to the Giants.
And, heading into this season, Minnesota have Smith on top of the Tight End depth chart. With the Offensive weapons that the Vikings have it should be a positive for Smith and fantasy owners.
Smith is productive when given the opportunity. He averaged 12.2 yards per reception which was more than Rudolph produced and scored 4 more TD’s.
In 2016, 17 and 18, Rudolph was a top 10 Tight End. Then when Smith was drafted, he lost a lot of his volume and they both shared the work.
With Rudolph out of the picture, that workload should increase. With a greater Volume, more receptions should follow. What does that mean? More receiving yards and the potential for more TD’s. All of this combined will increase Smith’s value and fantasy scoring ability.
In drafts today, Smith is coming off the board as the 148th pick. That puts him in and around the 12th-14th round range. It also makes him the 15th Tight End off the board.
Smith could be considered a great streaming option. He could also be a fantastic player to keep in your line up if you are holding off looking for a Tight End until the later rounds. In either scenario, Smith should be a great value add.
That’s it Rush Nation, my Bust to Lust at the Tight End position.
Next up and finishing the series will be the Quarterback position.
Until then, keep Rushing.
Pittsy – @PittsyNFL