It is hard to believe but this is the final article from the Rookie Reactions series! This series has been an absolute blast and I am so glad you have enjoyed it. So for the last time, as I have mentioned in my prior six articles… an essential part of fantasy football is post-season review. We need to take a look at all of the rookie seasons in the NFL and consider their dynasty fantasy football values moving forward.
Today, we are talking about the only two relevant rookie tight ends from the 2021 class.
Kyle Pitts, ATL
NFL Draft Pick: First round, fourth overall
Pitts was known by the football analyst community as one of the best, if not the best, tight-end prospects we have ever seen. Standing at 6’6″ and 247 pounds, the elite tight end prospect displayed tremendous athleticism at the 2021 NFL Combine with a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and a 129-inch broad jump. That same talent was apparent throughout his college career in Florida where he was known for his tremendous acrobatic ability and gained yards after receptions.
Entering the fantasy football season, Pitts was drafted among the top tight ends. People hoped he might overcome the poor rookie tight end track record with his playmaking ability. He was going right behind George Kittle and just in front of Mark Andrews in most drafts.
Pitts essentially met his ADP, finishing as a borderline top-five tight end in most PPR scoring formats. However, even though he met his ADP, his overall performance felt very disappointing. He only scored one touchdown on American soil this past year, and that was during the Pro Bowl. He really lacked in red zone usage and as a result, touchdowns.
Interestingly, Pitts is slowly turning into the evident number one option on this team. Calvin Ridley has just been suspended for at least the entire 2022 season and there are questions as to whether he ever plays football again. Russell Gage is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. This Atlanta wide receiver core is arguably the worst in the league right now. However, we should expect Atlanta to take one if not two high-capital receivers in this upcoming NFL Draft to help Pitts out. Still, no matter who they draft, he will be at worst the second option in the receiving attack for the next few years in Atlanta.
There is also a new quarterback in town! Marcus Mariota is replacing Matt Ryan in the Falcons offense. As long as they do not draft a quarterback, Mariota will be starting the 2022 season and then Atlanta will probably find his future replacement in 2023. Mariota is absolutely a downgrade from Ryan, but a struggling quarterback tends to lean on the number one option in the NFL. As of right now, that is easily Pitts.
With Pitts, the window to buy him in dynasty has absolutely slammed shut. At this point, you would have to give up the farm to get him on your roster and that might not even be enough to convince the owner to give him up. Right now on KeepTradeCut’s trade calculator, Pitts is worth as much as Kyler Murray is in a superflex dynasty league. On FantasyPros, he is the 15th overall ranked player for dynasty in superflex formats.
If you have this growing star on your roster, lucky you! The only reason I would even consider selling is if your winning window is only going to last another year or two. Looking at Atlanta’s roster, their offense will likely not be great for the next one to two years which caps Pitts’ upside to finish extremely high for fantasy. So, if you only have a one or two-year winning window, I would not mind giving him away for Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, or Darren Waller along with more value. Otherwise, hold on to Pitts because you likely have the future of the tight end position on your fantasy football roster.
Pat Freiermuth, PIT
NFL Draft Pick: Second round, 55th overall
Coming into the 2021 draft, all of the tight-end glory went to Pitts and his unbelievable athleticism. When the Steelers picked Freiermuth in the second round of the draft, he was just left in the dust. He was buried in redraft fantasy football drafts and was drafted in the late second round in non-superflex rookie drafts.
Freiermuth finished just outside the top 12 tight ends on the season and had a stretch from weeks six through seventeen as a top seven tight end in PPR. He was almost immediately involved in the offense, averaging six targets per game in his last 11 games which for a tight end, let alone a rookie, is pretty solid.
Pittsburgh are going through major changes at their quarterback position right now. It seems like Mitchell Trubisky will be starting for at least the 2022 season. So, how does that affect Freiermuth? A new quarterback should not worry anyone. Ben Roethlisberger was horrifically bad last year. Nearly any quarterback they bring in to start would be a significant upgrade to what they had this past season. A new quarterback can only help the offense grow and that gives Freiermuth more touchdown opportunities. The Steelers showed they loved to give him touchdown opportunities in 2021, giving him 20 red-zone targets which tied for the NFL lead. Also, with a potential rookie coming in either this year or maybe next year, a tight end is a young quarterback’s best friend. A new rookie and him could quickly develop a bond and Freiermuth could easily push into the top five fantasy football conversation at tight end.
Remember everyone, Freiermuth was a rookie this past year. Rookie tight ends are not supposed to perform well. He joins a list of only seven other tight ends to ever score seven or more touchdowns in their rookie year since 1970. He also now holds fifth place for the most rookie tight end receptions of all time. The fact he was able to put up solid tight end numbers as a rookie shows a lot about his potential future in the NFL. He is only going to grow and progress from here.
In dynasty fantasy football, Freiermuth is someone I am looking to get on my rosters. If you cannot get Pitts, go out and get the player who will always be undervalued due to Pitts being in the same class. Freiermuth is young, sustained a very impressive rookie year, and should only grow from here in this growing Steelers offense!
Well, that officially completes our Rookie Dynasty Reactions series. We have gone over 16 rookie seasons and discussed their dynasty fantasy football futures. It has been an absolute blast discussing these players!
- Ambiguous Backfield Breakdowns: Seattle Seahawks - August 2, 2022
- Three Values in Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Drafts Right Now - June 2, 2022
- 2022 NFL Draft Predictions: One Man’s Thoughts on Wide Receivers and Tight Ends - April 28, 2022