Kyle Pitts’ fantasy outlook and projection for 2021

Kyle Pitts is the rare rookie tight end who could deliver in Year 1 -- does his fantasy football outlook project he delivers at his ADP?

The hype train regarding Kyle Pitts’ fantasy football outlook began to gain momentum after the Atlanta Falcons drafted him with the  No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The trade of wide receiver Julio Jones has only added coal to the fire as fantasy managers enter fantasy draft season. Will Pitts underperform or outperform his ADP in 2021?

Kyle Pitts’ fantasy outlook for 2021

The Falcons have 195 available targets and 1,000 air yards (indicate how far a pass traveled in the air before it was caught) entering the 2021 season. Atlanta will look to bounce back from a subpar 2020 season.

They tied with the Chargers for the fourth-most pass attempts per game (39.2) in 2020. The Chiefs (39.7), Cowboys (39.9), and Steelers (42.6) were the only other teams who averaged more. This passing volume didn’t translate to yards and points scored for the Falcons.

The team will have to lean heavily on their offense in 2021, given the state of its defense. The Falcons allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing offenses.

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley will operate as the Falcons’ No. 1 receiver. The 26-year-old WR caught 90 of 143 targets for 1,374 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns last season. Ridley maximized the high volume by setting career highs in multiple statistical areas due to wide receiver Julio Jones‘ inability to stay healthy. A hamstring injury hindered the veteran receiver for the majority of the season.

Arthur Smith and Pitts are a match made in fantasy football heaven

The addition of new head coach Arthur Smith will change the team’s offensive philosophy. He was previously the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, where their offense averaged 385.4 total yards per game — fifth in the NFL. Additionally, Tennessee averaged 32 rushing attempts (second) and 30 pass attempts per game (30th). Smith leaned heavily on play-action passes and pre-snap motion last year.

Atlanta also acquired veteran tight end Lee Smith from the Bills. For his career, Smith has 64 receptions for 458 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Moreover, he has a reputation as a run-blocking specialist. Hayden Hurst, on the other hand, struggles mightily when asked to block. He will likely be phased out of Atlanta’s offense due to the addition of Pitts.

Pitts will be a significant upgrade for Arthur Smith’s offense. He should fit in nicely with Ridley and quarterback Matt Ryan. Pitts excels as a receiver and a blocker, and this versatility will allow the Falcons to run various plays out of the same formation to keep defenses guessing.

Tight ends in Smith’s offense over the last two seasons averaged 7 targets per game. Pitts is also likely to become the Falcons’ No. 1 option in the red zone. Smith provided the position 30 red-zone targets in 2020.

The only Falcons player projected for more targets than Pitts is Ridley. Furthermore, the rookie’s addition puts on a damper on a breakout season from Russell Gage in 2021.

Fantasy projection

Pitts played in eight games for Florida last season. He produced 43 receptions for 770 yards and set the school single-season touchdown record by a tight end with 12. Additionally, Pitts led all tight ends in deep receptions and deep receiving yards.

The former Florida tight end projects for around 115 targets, 80 receptions, 900 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns in 2021.

Kyle Pitts’ ADP

On Fleaflicker, Pitts has an ADP of 49.3. The trend is similar in pay-to-play fantasy formats such as the National Fantasy Championship, where Pitts has an ADP of 51.96. Surprisingly, his ADP is higher on Sleeper (45.3). Pitts’ ADP should remain steady as we approach the regular season.

Should you draft Pitts in 2021?

Absolutely. If you prefer to draft a tight end early in fantasy football drafts and miss out on the big three, Pitts is a great option. He has a legitimate chance to surpass Jeremy Shockey’s statistical production from his 2002 rookie season.

Eric Moody is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). He is also the co-host of the In The Mood for Fantasy Football podcast. You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.