Before the ink on fellow tight end George Kittle’s new contract had a chance to dry, the Kansas City Chiefs signed their own tight end, Travis Kelce, to a monster 4-year extension worth a reported $57.2 million, with an average annual value of $14.3 million. This locks up both Kelce and his quarterback Patrick Mahomes through 2025, but does this really make a difference to Travis Kelce’s fantasy value for 2020, or even beyond that in dynasty leagues?[sv slug=fantasy]
Kelce’s contract is understandably lower than Kittle’s
Kelce is entering his eighth NFL season in 2020 at the ripe old age of 31, so he’s definitely not the kind of young stud that warrants a contract like this. In fact, to get an extension this big for a player at his age is rare for a non-quarterback in the NFL. Earlier this offseason, the largest tight end contract for a player over 30 was given to Jimmy Graham, 33, by the Chicago Bears, but his contract was only a two-year deal for $16 million. This extension blows that deal out of the water.
Given the age discrepancy, no one expected Kelce to sign a bigger deal than his younger counterpart in Kittle, but these two have a history of being attached at the hip atop the record boards. In the 2018 regular season, Travis Kelce broke the tight end receiving yard record previously held by Rob Gronkowski with 1,336 yards, only to lose the record later that day to Kittle when he finished the season with 1,377 yards.
What do the metrics tell us about Kelce and his fantasy value?
Relative Athletic Score
Kelce entered the league in 2013 with a Relative Athletic Score (RAS) of 9.29, putting him among the top at his position for his draft class. While Kittle ranked “Elite” in speed and “Poor” in size, Kelce was more evenly built with “Great” speed and “Good” size. Kelce didn’t do much his rookie year, which isn’t uncommon for tight ends in today’s NFL, but he has certainly made a name for himself since, putting up five straight seasons of 100 or more targets. Needless to say, he’s a monster on the field.
Offensive Share Metric
Kelce’s Offensive Share Metric (OSM), which illustrates how impactful a player is within their offense, for the 2019 season was a “Very Good” 36.93, ranking him 14th among qualified tight ends. Even with an OSM outside of the top 10, it is clear that Kelce is a focal point for the offense. However, there are some indications that his age is starting to show and is hindering his ability to get as much separation as he used to, thus lowering his OSM score.
From a fantasy angle, Kelce has been as advertised for dynasty managers. In 2019, Kelce was the most consistent tight end based on Consistency Score with a whopping 6.29, 25% higher than his counterpart in Kittle. Not only was he consistent, but Kelce was consistently good, finishing as a TE1 93% of the season. His high floor, combined with a high ceiling makes him the epitome of a “set it and forget it” tight end in fantasy.
Travis Kelce’s dynasty fantasy football outlook entering 2020
While Kelce has been the top of the position for a few years in dynasty already, Kittle has recently made his way into the conversation. Kelce has a slightly lower RAS and OSM but is more consistent in terms of fantasy output. Which metric is more impactful, and more importantly, which player is going to be better for longer? That’s what dynasty managers are asking themselves.
One big difference that needs to be addressed is that Kelce plays with the superior quarterback, on the superior team, with arguably the superior coach, at least for now. Chiefs quarterback Mahomes is far and away considered a better option than current 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but the gap between Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is closing.
While the NFL metrics all point to Kittle being the better asset for football, there is an argument that Kelce will be the better option for longer due to his supporting cast and his ability to be consistent at a higher level. I give the nod to Kittle as he is five-years younger, but I can see a world where Kelce sits atop dynasty rankings for years to come. Either way, Travis Kelce’s fantasy value for 2020 is solidified as a top-two tight end with this contract extension.
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