Fantasy Football Scout 2017: George Kittle

The San Francisco 49ers are a hot mess. While they may not be the only winless franchise in the NFL (see the Cleveland Browns), it has been apparent that even before the season started that the woeful  49ers had their eyes set on the future. Although this may sound like a condemnation with regards to the 49ers players as viable fantasy assets, there are actually a couple of noteworthy rookies that fantasy owners may want to consider. Recently, 49ers rookie tight end George Kittle has become a reliable weapon for an offense that has had it struggles since the start of the season. What Kittle lacks in swiftness and separation skills, he makes up for by having great hands (three drops, 4th amongst tight ends) while finding ways to get open in the red zone (four red zone receptions, 1st amongst tight ends).
Team: San Francisco 49ers
Position: Tight End
Percent Owned On Fantasy Teams: (Yahoo Fantasy): 18%
Fantasy Points Total Thru Week 6 (Half PPR): Projected: 31.72  Actual: 37.70
When gauging how statistically solid players will function on bad teams, it’s essential to understand what aspects of their respective teams can hinder or help them. Typically, any type of receiver can only go so far fantasy wise as their quarterback can take them and the 49ers have a serviceable albeit inexperienced signal caller in rookie C.J. Beathard. While his atrocious completion percentage (52.8%) and paltry average yards per throw statistic (6.81) may seem like a detriment to Kittle’s production initially, the conservative nature of Beathard has actually elevated Kittle’s value in fantasy.

Through the first four weeks of the season, Kittle received just 14 targets and peaked at just 35 receiving yards in a game during that stretch. However, since Beathard took over passing duties as of week 5, Kittle has been targeted 17 times while garnering 129 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in just two games. Aside from Pierre Garcon, the 49ers are devoid of prominent playmakers, which should allow Kittle to be featured more prominently in the 49ers offense while continuing to develop into a reliable pass catcher.
While Kittle may not set the world on fire every week, his elevated target share combined with his receptions in the red zone definitely gives him some intriguing value if you’re in need of a tight end. In a league where injuries and unpredictable fluctuations in production are a regular occurrence, Kittle has proved to be a fairly steady option in his inaugural year as a professional football player.

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