It won't be surprising to see some fantasy football owners spend a first-round pick on Travis Kelce – but there are two other high-end TEs you can snag a few rounds later. Ertz is more of a target hog, while Kittle has big-time home-run potential. Which of the two do you prefer? pic.twitter.com/e3kRYFCYuq
— FantasyPros (@FantasyPros) August 8, 2019
After Travis Kelce, there is some debate as to who is the TE2 this year.
Travis Kelce is firmly entrenched as the undisputed number 1 tight end in fantasy football. Ask 100 fantasy players and writers and you won’t be able to get a consensus on who the number two TE is though.
Zach Ertz and George Kittle are most people’s number two and number three tight ends but the order will differ depending on who you ask.
So, this begs the question, who is the undisputed number two behind Kelce? Sole breakout year vs history of production?
🔥 Somebody grab the burnt ends. Travis Kelce comin’ in HOT! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jPPSrSwAca
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) December 3, 2017
Kittle’s breakout season last year was mammoth. Setting the all-time yardage record for a tight end with a mixture of C.J Beathard, Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens throwing him the ball.
However, it was predominately done without the man who is returning from injury to throw him the ball this season, Jimmy Garoppolo. This helps in the sense he has the 49ers’ most accurate quarterback (25% of Kittles targets last season were off-target), however, his rapport has been greater with Jimmy’stwo backups.
Kittle’ impressive 2018 playing a full season looked as such; 88 receptions (on 136 targets), 1377 yards (setting a new record for a TE) and finishing with 5 touchdowns. Additionally, Kittle led the entire NFL in yards after the catch with 870 yards (2nd was Christian McCaffrey with 851 yards).
This was a significant step up from his rookie season in which he managed 15 games, 43 receptions (on 63 targets, 515 yards, and 2 touchdowns. For a rookie tight end, these were above average numbers.
Kittle has only missed 1 game in two seasons with a sprained ankle in 2017. He has shown durability, which will impress fantasy owners drafting this season.
— Cash (@GaroppoIo) January 19, 2019
Over the past 4 seasons despite missing 5 games in that span, Ertz has the 7th most receptions of any player.
Zach Ertz’s career has been a steady incline. In his rookie year in 2013, he registered 36 receptions. Since then has 58 in 2014, 75 (2015), 78 (2016, 74 (2017) and a whopping 116 last year on 156 targets (2018).
Just like his receptions, Ertz yardage has increased nearly every yea,r peaking last season.
In 2013 he registered 469 yards, this was followed by 702 in his sophomore season. 2015 saw him make 853 yards, 2016 he had 816, 2017 saw the third season in a row in finished in the 800’s with 824 yards and finally in 2018 he had a career-high and registered 1,163 yards.
Ertz has managed 29 career touchdowns, however the past two seasons he has been like a homing pigeon in the red zone. He has back to back 8 touchdown seasons, making his fantasy owners very happy in the process.
— #1 DC DEFENDER FAN (@EaglesHighlight) March 12, 2016
Competition & 2019 outlook
Dante Pettis in his second season is expected to take a leap forward. The 49ers made Deebo Samuel the 2nd wide receiver selected in the 2019 draft at pick 35. This indicated they are high on Samuel and have significant plans to utilize him the slot position, where he had great success in college.
Jalen Hurd was selected in the third round and will play some role in the 49ers pass offense, but he appears to be the WR3 at best.
Kittle will still be one of the dominant tight ends in the NFL, however, I feel he is due for a regression. With only 5 touchdowns last season, the smart would be on Kittle replicating this at a minimum. As previously mentioned 25% of Kittle’s targets were uncatchable last season. I expect Kittle to produce a similar number of targets to last season (8.3) and see a rise in efficiency with Garoppolo returning from injury (although his recent pre-season has me now doubting this somewhat).
— Alex Tran (@NinerAlex) August 20, 2019
This man along with Pettis and Hurd will be looking to take work away from Kittle
Many argue the targets are sure to come down with a fresh Alshon Jeffrey and the re-arrival of Desean Jackson. Ertz still figures to lead the team in targets, however, a repeat of last seasons astronomical 156 looks a step too far for Ertz to repeat.
I figure he will sit around the 95-100 reception mark this season, last season he had 116.
The Philadelphia Eagles also drafted JJ Arcega Whiteside and Miles Sanders. While Whiteside is seemingly being groomed to eventually replace Jeffrey, being an essential non-factor in 2019. Sanders, on the other hand, appears to be the team’s first choice third-down back and will see some targets, taking away some from Ertz in the process.
Tight end Dallas Goedert impressed in his rookie campaign. He will figure to be more involved in the pass-catching game this season, in two TE sets and 1 TE plays which would take away from Ertz snaps.
Dallas Goedert is considered a good athlete for the TE position. But watching him next to Zach Ertz just highlights what a freak/elite athlete Ertz is #Eagles
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) July 31, 2018
Fantasy Pros standard scoring currently places George Kittle at 24 with Zach Ertz at 42.
In full PPR leagues that gap closes significantly, Kittle comes in at 22 with Ertz climbing to 27.
OJ Howard comes in at 57 highlighting the perceived gaps between the next best option.
Its Kelce, Kittle, Ertz then daylight till this man above in fantasy drafts
Final Words & Projections
Both tight ends are sure to be hot commodities in fantasy drafts this year, and the second and third tight ends off the board. Despite the 49ers offense getting crowded with young and talented wideouts, Kittle is the most reliable and explosive pass catcher on the 49ers.
Additionally, he will have a fit Garoppolo back. While Ertz is the most reliable pass-catcher on the Eagles roster, on the superior offense, and he will have a fully fit Carson Wentz.
Kittle is the clear cut number 2 TE in standard-scoring leagues due to his superior yardage. In Full PPR leagues though Ertz closes this gap significantly with his 59 additional targets in the past two seasons alone. Ertz with his history of production makes him the safer bet in PPR leagues.
George Kittle Season Projections for 2019:
81 Receptions, 1,119 yards, 6 Receiving TDs
Standard Scoring Points: 147.9
PPR Points: 228.9
Zach Ertz Season Projections for 2019:
97 Receptions, 956 Yards, 7 Receiving TDs
Standard Scoring Points: 137.6
PPR Points: 234.6