Kyle Pitts is taking fantasy football drafts by storm. The generational rookie tight end has skyrocketed up the best ball draft board with a new average draft position (ADP) on Underdog Fantasy as the TE4 (50th overall) since the aftermath of the Julio Jones trade.
Pitts has the chance to not only buck the trend of rookie tight ends failing to produce in Year 1, but also to be an immediate game-changer for fantasy teams due to the skill set he provides at a desolate position.
His upside is tantalizing, but has the price of acquisition become so inflated that he’s not worth targeting with a Round 4 or 5 selection? After all, fantasy football isn’t about hating players; it’s about hating the prices associated with them.
Let’s dive in.
ROOKIE LEARNING CURVE
The tight end position is one of the most difficult when it comes to transitioning from college football to the NFL. Not only do tight ends need to learn complex route schemes, but they are often asked to understand blocking in both the run and passing games. With all of that mixed together, it’s extremely rare for a rookie tight end to break out.
For a player to finish as a top-50 non-quarterback (Pitts’ current ADP), he’s needed to accumulate at least 190 fantasy points based on the past two seasons.
There’s overwhelming evidence that suggests betting on a rookie tight end returning a top-50 ADP is a poor proposition, but the main counterargument is that Pitts is simply a different specimen. It’s not fair to compare a 6-foot-6 (85th percentile) unicorn with 4.44-second 40-yard dash wheels (99th percentile) to other rookie tight ends.
And when the parameters change to include rookie wide receivers who finished second on their team in target share — Pitts should rank second in targets behind Calvin Ridley — the results are much more encouraging.
Since 2015, 11 different rookie wide receivers (approximately two per season) have scored at least 180 fantasy points in their first years while not commanding the majority of targets in their team's offense.