Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is one of the most dynamic prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, but what dynasty value does Pitts bring to the table for fantasy football managers? Where will Pitts be selected in upcoming rookie dynasty drafts, and what value will he offer when fantasy managers come on the clock?
Kyle Pitts’ dynasty value for 2021
Let’s admit it. The term “generational talent” is so overused it is ridiculous. Not every player who flashes on film can get a “generation talent” label — that’s not how it works. Unless a player is one of the best you have ever seen on the field and a cut above the rest of his peers, can that conversation even be brought up?
Well, I am about to bring it up. Pitts is just that damn good. In fact, he is the highest-graded tight end I have ever scouted, and I am not alone. Your favorite fantasy analyst’s favorite draft analysts planted their flags on the same hill.
It came as no surprise to see Pitts break the record as the highest-drafted tight end in NFL Draft history. There is a strong case to be made that he is the second-best receiver in this class as well. Pitts’ value in dynasty should be that of a player who could be the best player at his position in a couple of years. His ceiling is the best in the game.
Right now, without having even been fitted for his shoulder pads, Pitts is my No. 5 tight end in dynasty. I am that bullish on Pitts’ fantasy value. Yes, I am fully aware this could come back to bite me, but there is nothing in either his film or athletic profile that makes me want to change my mind.
Kyle Pitts lands with the Atlanta Falcons at pick No. 4
We knew Pitts was a generational talent, and the NFL gave him generational draft capital. Selected as the fourth overall pick, Pitts joins a loaded offense and now pairs with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, who are both perennial 1,000-yard receivers.
It’s hard to find any downside with this landing spot from a dynasty standpoint as Matt Ryan is still playing at a very high level, having thrown for over 4,000 yards for 10 straight years. Also, defenses already have to focus on two incredible receivers. Could that handicap Pitts’ dynasty value as well?
When examining Pitts’ value, the impact of Jones — one of the NFL’s all-time great receivers — needs to be considered. Father time is undefeated, and Jones might have already started to show signs of it catching up to him. His nine appearances in 2020 were the fewest since 2013 when he suffered a season-ending broken foot and made just five appearances.
When on the field, Jones is the alpha of the Falcons’ aerial attack, averaging 161 targets from 2014 to 2019. Combined with Ridley, the two should soak up around 18 to 20 targets per game, leaving around 15 to 17 for Pitts, Russell Gage, Hayden Hurst, and any other additional players such as Mike Davis out of the backfield.
Pitts’ addition will likely diminish Gage’s role on the offense
While Jones dealt with injuries for one of the few times in his career, Gage recorded his first 100 target season of his career. The third-year pro caught 72 receptions on 109 targets for 786 yards and 4 touchdowns, even adding one as a passer.
As there are only so many targets to go around, Gage will likely be the odd man out of this offense. Nevertheless, he should still end up closer to his 49 reception totals from 2019. Particularly if we see it return to a more balanced approach rather than the 62.1% pass rate we saw the year prior under former head coach Dan Quinn.
Although, it’s not like Derrick Henry followed him to Atlanta. However, they are likely to be in the bottom five again in defense, leading to a more significant passing split, especially the second half of games.
Could we see a similar strategy used in Tennessee by Smith with Pitts and Hurst?
There were questions about Hurst’s impact on Pitts, but I don’t believe that will be a factor. After a TE10 season averaging 9.3 ppg, there is room for both Hurst and Pitts to share the field together. Essentially, the two will become an upgraded version of the Tennessee Titans duo of Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser from the year prior.
I reference the Titans’ duo as there is a connection between these two teams in Arthur Smith, who took over the head coaching role in the offseason. in 2020, both Tennessee tight ends were fantasy-relevant at times, but Smith was the one on the verge of the predicted breakout.
From Weeks 1 through 11, Smith was the TE6 with 30 receptions for 338 yards and 7 touchdowns as a focal point of the offense. On a 16-game pace, that equates to 48 receptions (78 targets) for 541 yards and 11 touchdowns. Good enough for the TE6 with 168.1 PPR points.
Unfortunately, a Taylor Lewan ACL tear derailed his season. Smith moved inline due to his blocking prowess. I expect to see Hurst be the more interior option with Pitts split out and the primary passing option between the two as the “Smith role” in the offense.
As mentioned above, there are already two phenomenal options on this offense at receiver, but Pitts is a difference-maker. Given the holes on the Falcons depth chart, they clearly felt the same way to invest a fourth overall pick on him. While Pitts might never be the top option on this team in its current format, his dynasty value will likely only go up so long as he shows a fraction of what we saw on film at Florida.
Pitts dominated early on while at the University of Florida
Pitts originally attended Abington Senior High School in Abington, Pennsylvania, before transferring in 2016 to Archbishop Wood Catholic High School in Warminster, Pennsylvania. The move came mainly because his former coach wanted him to play QB rather than tight end — the move worked out.
Pitts went on to play on both sides of the ball, as a tight end and defensive end. In 2018, Pitts participated in the Under Armour Senior Bowl.
As a backup his freshman year at Florida, Pitts saw little playing time. He appeared in 11 games but caught only 3 passes for 73 yards and 1 touchdown. In 2019, he took over as the starting tight end. He played in all 13 games, making 12 starts as a true sophomore, recording 54 receptions for 649 yards and 5 touchdowns (second-most for a Florida tight end since 1996).
Pitts led all SEC tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He earned first-team selections in the 2019 Coaches’ All-SEC and Associated Press All-SEC. In addition, he was a Walter Camp Player of the Year semifinalist.
Pitts put the NCAA, NFL, and dynasty managers on notice. In 2020, Pitts’ fantasy value went through the roof.
Pitts was unguardable in 2020
If not for Pitts, there would be far less excitement over Kyle Trask right now. Pitts played in eight games, hauling in 43 catches for 770 yards (17.9 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. He had five games with over 80 receiving yards during the shortened season, including three over 100. He also has three multi-score games, including three scores against Kentucky and four versus Ole Miss.
Pitts was a Mackey Award and Biletnikoff Award finalist in 2020. He also earned unanimous first-team All-American honors and was a top-10 finisher in Heisman Trophy voting. By finishing inside the top 10 of Heisman voting, Pitts became the first TE to finish in the top 10 in 43 years.
He finished his career at Florida after recording 100 receptions for 1,492 yards (14.9 avg.) and 18 touchdowns. He became Florida’s all-time leader for receiving yards by a tight end while ranking second in career receptions at the position. Pitts’ dynasty value heading into rookie fantasy draft season is nearly as high as anyone.
Where should you draft Pitts in dynasty rookie drafts?
Here is where things get spicy. Usually, I would almost always say to draft based on team need in dynasty. However, Pitts is one of those exceptions. There’s a case to see Pitts go off the board as early as the second pick in 1QB dynasty drafts. I could see it going Najee Harris and then either Ja’Marr Chase or Pitts.
In Superflex dynasty formats, where QBs carry more fantasy value, I would think at least Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance would slot above Pitts. Now, this is all in PPR scoring. With popularity surging in TE-premium formats, Pitts would move to my 1.01 in 1QB and 1.03 in Superflex.
The 2021 rookie draft is extremely deep at wide receiver. In Round 2, you will find guys who will be starters for you by Week 6. What you will not find is the game-breaking talent Pitts provides at the shallowest position in all of fantasy football.
Now, if you miss out on Pitts, don’t be too upset. Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth is outstanding and has top-eight dynasty upside. However, if you select Pitts, you are getting a player who could end up having the highest dynasty value of the entire class before it is all said and done.
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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.