2023 Fantasy Football Player Profile: Cole Kmet's value rests on Justin Fields' shoulders

2MATJ60 Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet makes a catch during warmups before a preseason NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Caean Couto)

• Cole Kmet is in a make-or-break season: Kmet is in the last season of his rookie contract. His play to this point hasn’t warranted a second big payday, but his play this season could.

• The Chicago Bears add competition: Kmet led the team in targets last season, but the Bears traded for D.J. Moore, who will likely be the new team leader in targets, and added Robert Tonyan to the tight end room.

• All eyes are on Justin Fields: Jalen Hurts made a massive leap as a passer last season, and everyone is hopeful that Fields can make a similar improvement this season, which could turn Kmet from a fantasy backup into a fantasy starter.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

The fantasy football outlook series takes an in-depth look at a single player’s fantasy outlook for the 2023 season. For help on draft strategy, rankings or for more details about other players, check out the rest of my summer content below. For rankings with better filtering along with auction values, check out our draft rankings page.

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Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Thursday, July 20

Player Outlook

Kmet carried fantasy value last season due to his ability to score touchdowns.

  • The former 43rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft has been a fantasy sleeper for multiple seasons now.
  • He gained the Bears' starting job in the last half of his rookie season and has started all 34 games for Chicago over the past two years.
  • He put up respectable numbers in his sophomore season, with 60 receptions for 612 yards and no touchdowns.
  • Kmet bounced back with seven touchdowns last year, but his receptions (50) and receiving yards (544) took a step backward.
  • His 0.412 receiving touchdowns per game last season ranked fourth out of 97 tight ends with at least 10 games played.
  • This helped him average 8.6 receiving PPR points per game, which ranked 12th.
  • He was too touchdown dependent, though. His routes run (25.2), targets (4.1), receptions (2.9) and receiving yards (32.0) per game all ranked either 18th or 19th.
  • This left Kmet with four weeks as a top-five fantasy tight end and 12 weeks in which he ranked 17th or worse.
  • Kmet’s 66.1 receiving grade last season was a step up from past years but ranked 10th worst out of 28 tight ends with at least 300 routes run.
  • He is 24 years old, so there is a decent chance he continues to improve this season, but at the rate he’s been improving, the most likely scenario is he’s an average starter next season.

Competition for Touches

Kmet will see increased competition for touches and snaps this season.

  • Kmet led the Bears in targets, receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2022.
  • The only other players on the roster last season with at least 150 receiving yards were wide receivers Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown and Dante Pettis and running back David Montgomery.
  • The other tight ends on the roster combined for six receptions.
  • The Bears added tight end Robert Tonyan on a one-year, $2.65 million contract.
  • Tonyan was a receiving tight end with the Green Bay Packers and will likely record more than six receptions in 2023.
  • Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was the Packers' passing game coordinator from 2020-2021, which includes the 2020 season in which Tonyan had 11 touchdowns.
  • Tonyan is unlikely to take the starting job from Kmet, but he will likely steal some playing time away, specifically in passing situations.
  • Chicago also upgraded its starting wide receiver corps, with a trade for Chase Claypool in the middle of last season and, more importantly, a trade for D.J. Moore this offseason.
  • This should lead to more targets for the wide receivers and fewer for the tight ends.
  • The one bright note is Chicago added several running backs to replace David Montgomery, and most of them are better runners than pass catchers. Travis Homer is best suited to take the receiving back role, but he’s unlikely to earn as many targets as Montgomery did.

Impact of Teammates

Kmet will continue to catch passes from Justin Fields in Getsy’s offense.

  • The former 11th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft has broken out in a huge way in terms of his rushing ability, but he still has plenty to do to improve as a passer.
  • Fields achieved a 53.2% accuracy percentage last season, which ranked the sixth-worst among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts. Four of the five lower than him are backups, and the fifth is fighting for a starting job.
  • It is possible to see a dramatic improvement in terms of accuracy. Daniel Jones accuracy was at 50.5% in 2021, and he bumped it to 64.6% last season — fifth best in the league.
  • There is optimism that Fields can improve his accuracy, as he was the most accurate college quarterback in the PFF College era.
  • Fields has worked on his accuracy this offseason, particularly on deep passes.
  • 14.5% of Kmet’s targets were on deep passes in 2022, which was the fourth most for tight ends with at least 300 pass routes.
  • At worst, we should expect more of the same out of Fields, which can lead to similar results for Kmet. At best, Fields can improve in a dramatic way, which would do wonders for Kmet’s fantasy value.

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Bottom Line

Kmet is a sleeper tight end who will depend on Justin Fields for his breakout.

  • If Fields improves as a passer, it will help everyone out in the offense, including creating more big plays for Kmet.
  • There is also a chance Kmet loses target shares with the improvements at wide receivers and loses snaps after the addition of Robert Tonyan. His best fantasy seasons may be behind him if that is the case.

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