I always enjoy writing bold predictions articles because it gives you the chance to take your general feelings about a player, turn them up to 11, and then look really smart when they come true. And if they don’t come true, well they were just bold predictions and bold predictions are meant to be bold. It’s really a win-win.
It’s TE Week here at NerdBall, so I’ve got three bold tight end predictions for 2021 fantasy football, all which I could realistically see happening if a few breaks go their way.
Kyle Pitts Breaks Mike Ditka’s Rookie Receiving Record
The transition for a rookie tight end into the NFL is not an easy one. History tells us we shouldn’t expect gaudy numbers from players at the position in their first year. It’s why Mike Ditka’s record of 1,076 receiving yards has yet to be broken despite it being set in 1961. (And just to further demonstrate how untouchable this record seems to be, the next closest tight end is Jeremy Shockey who had 894 yards in 2002 his rookie year.)
Well, all records are meant to be broken and broken they shall be.
Close your eyes for a second and imagine if Kyle Pitts were a wide receiver. A wide receiver mind you, who’s joining an offense that a) has a top-10 quarterback, b) has shown a propensity for throwing the football hyper-efficiently, and c) is suddenly looking for a No. 2 receiver to step into the 100+ targets that comes with the role. You would have no problem projecting that receiver to have 1,000+ yards receiving right?
Now open your eyes. Guess what, Kyle Pitts is that wide receiver.
Pitts is not an ordinary tight end by any stretch of the imagination. He is a 6-foot-6, 245 pound athlete who runs a 4.44 40-yard-dash and has the physical testing numbers of a wide receiver. He played all over the field at Florida and is already bringing that versatility to Atlanta Falcons’ practices. When it comes to fantasy drafts this year, I’m treating Pitts as a wide receiver. It’s why I have him ranked as my TE3 ahead of Darren Waller.
Kyle Pitts is about to break records and you won’t want to miss that type of production on your fantasy team this year.
Noah Fant Falls Outside the Top 12
Noah Fant is currently being drafted as the TE7, going at the end of the sixth round, in .5PPR drafts. That seems really high for a player who hasn’t really even been a TE1 since entering the league. I can understand betting on Fant to put it all together in his third year and breakout, but the Denver Broncos’ offense is not currently situated to aid in that quest.
For starters, Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy are both firmly ahead of Fant in the pecking order. Fant saw 93 targets last year thanks almost entirely to Sutton missing the season with a torn ACL. Even with the second most targets on the team, Fant still only finished the TE12 in .5PPR. He’s also turned a team high 10 red zone targets into only 2 touchdowns, so it’s not likely he’ll make up for that loss in production with touchdowns.
While the quarterback battle in Denver is good news for the wide receivers, it’s not great news for Fant. We know what Fant does with Drew Lock, seeing as the two have played together since entering the league, and Teddy Bridgewater is not one to target his tight ends (see Ian Thomas’ 31 targets last year).
I have Fant ranked as my TE16 this year and I will not be touching him in any of my drafts.
Anthony Firkser Finishes Top 5 in Receiving Touchdowns
I should clarify that when I say top 5 in receiving touchdowns, I mean among tight ends. I don’t think Firkser is going to suddenly start challenging the likes of Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill for 15+ touchdowns. I do however think that seven to eight scores is within Firkser’s range of outcomes.
When in the red zone, the Tennessee Titans have a tendency to run the football. When your running back is 6-foot-3, 240 pound Derrick Henry, that tendency makes a lot of sense. When they don’t run the football however, they throw it to their tight ends. Jonnu Smith led the Titans by a wide margin in red zone targets last year with 17. Even in a limited role last year, Firkser tied with Corey Davis for third most RZ targets (7). With Smith now in New England, Firkser is inline to step into those targets inside the 20.
Which bold prediction do you think has the best chance of coming true? Let me know in the comments!