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    George Kittle’s Best Ball Fantasy Outlook: Is the Talented 49ers TE Overvalued?

    San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle is immensely talented, but he falls well short of being an elite fantasy option. Should he be avoided in Best Ball drafts?

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    San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle may very well be the most talented all-around tight end in the league. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate into fantasy football greatness. Does Kittle’s situation make him a bit overvalued in Best Ball drafts?

    George Kittle’s 2024 Fantasy Outlook

    Perhaps the perception on Kittle is finally changing. There’s no denying his talent as a football player, but as a fantasy asset, he’s been overrated going on three straight years now.

    The year 2018 feels like a lifetime ago. If you’re interested, go take a look at ADP data from that season. It will look like a different world.

    Well, that’s when Kittle first broke out, averaging 16.0 fantasy points per game. But what if I told you Kittle’s fantasy points per game have declined every season since?

    Of course, not all decline is problematic. Kittle going from 16.0 to 15.9 to 15.6 is perfectly fine. It’s the more recent stuff that should raise fantasy managers’ eyebrows.

    In 2021, Kittle’s fantasy points per game tumbled to 14.1. It’s not what you want to see, but still great numbers for a tight end. But in 2022 and 2023, his average production dropped to 13.4 and 12.7, respectively.

    Looking at the past two seasons specifically, Kittle scored his points in very different ways. In 2022, he averaged just 12.8 yards per reception but scored 11 touchdowns. Last season, he only scored six times, three of which came in a single game, yet averaged 15.7 yards per reception.

    A big reason for Kittle’s recent decline is volume. Over the past two seasons, the 49ers’ neutral game script pass rate was just 53%, tied for eighth-lowest in the league. Additionally, Kittle’s target share, which was at least 25% from 2018-2021, fell to 19.8% and 21% in the past two years.

    The term “too many mouths to feed” is often thrown around a bit too haphazardly. Good players will command volume, but in the 49ers’ case, it’s actually warranted.

    How do we know? We have the data to back it up.

    San Francisco has four incredibly talented playmakers: Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Christian McCaffrey. It’s just not going to be possible for all four of them to produce every week. Someone is going to get left out.

    Over the past three years, Kittle has played 38 games with Samuel. In those games, he’s averaged 11.8 fantasy points per game. However, in seven games without Samuel, he’s averaged 22.4!

    The sample size is much smaller for Aiyuk, but Kittle averaged 13.4 fantasy points per game in 44 games with him and scored 16 points in his one game without Aiyuk.

    Could it be considered an indictment on Kittle that he struggles to earn targets when both Samuel and Aiyuk are active? Sure. But Kittle is a tight end. He may be an excellent receiver, but he’s also the best blocking TE in the league. It makes sense that he’d be asked to block more when the 49ers’ top two receivers are both active.

    Kittle’s 2.3 yards per route run led all tight ends last season. He also led the NFL in yards per target and yards per reception.

    There’s no denying Kittle still has the talent to be an elite fantasy TE. It’s just not necessary when the wide receivers are healthy, and as a result, his fantasy production has suffered.

    Should You Draft Kittle in 2024 Best Ball Leagues?

    Since 2018, Kittle has been a top-six tight end every year. Even last year’s down performance still resulted in him finishing as the overall TE6. I believe this has contributed to his ADP remaining high amongst tight ends. But that appears to be changing this year.

    Kittle is now being drafted at a spot lower than where he’s finished at any point in his career other than his rookie year. So, does that make him a value? Well…maybe.

    The big issue with Kittle all these years has been the necessity of him posting 14+ fantasy points per game to justify his cost in fantasy drafts. At where he’s going this year, he doesn’t have to be quite as good.

    If Kittle merely posts 13 fantasy ppg, he’ll be worth his cost in fantasy drafts. With that said, everything is relative. Kittle does need to be meaningfully better than the tight ends going after him in order to justify drafting him at a higher cost.

    Assessing Kittle’s draft price purely based on his own production, he’s probably worth it. But is he clearly superior to guys like Evan Engram or David Njoku? I’m not so sure.

    In Best Ball drafts, Kittle should be the type of guy you draft either because he falls below ADP or to stack with Brock Purdy. Kittle’s fine at the right price — just don’t go out of your way to target him.

    KEEP READING: Best Ball Fantasy TE Rankings 2024

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