Fantasy Court: The Case for George Kittle in 2023 (Fantasy Football)

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This article is part of the annual Fantasy Court Series. Don’t forget to check out The Case Against George Kittle by Javier Manzanera for his opposing view.

Opening Statement

Your honor, respected constituents of this court, as much as we rely on research and statistics, there is an element of emotion and feeling when it comes to fantasy football.

Sometimes we just have to go with our gut, and my gut is telling me that George Kittle is in for a big year.

I understand that gut feelings don’t play a part in this courtroom, but there are facts to back up this claim. Kittle ended the year on a high note with his new quarterback under center. Detractors often point to his past injuries, but he hasn’t missed as many games as they’d lead you to believe. And of course, he’s proven that he can be an elite tight end in the past.

Pass The Brock

Kittle finished the 2022 campaign with a career-high 11 touchdowns, seven of which came in the last five games of the season when Brock Purdy took over as the starting quarterback. It may be a small sample size, but there was a clear connection between Purdy and Kittle.

Purdy is a young quarterback going into his second season, his first as the Week 1 starter. Young QBs have a propensity to throw the ball to their TEs, and that should continue in 2023. Expect Purdy to hyper-target Kittle, his safety valve and most reliable pass-catcher.

Overblown Injury History

The running joke around fantasy football circles is that players on the 49ers have a tendency to get injured, a lot. Kittle is one of the players who gets mentioned the most when it comes to injury concerns. He hasn’t played a full season since 2018 and missed half of the 2020 season. But in the last two seasons, Kittle has missed just four games. You’d think he missed double-digit games the way people talk about his injury history.

Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game and are unpredictable. There are players who seem to get injured more often than others and are labeled injury-prone. Kittle has somehow fallen under that category, despite playing in the majority of games each season – except for the 2020 campaign when he broke a bone in his foot. Even if he misses two to three games this year, fantasy rosters would benefit more from 12 weeks of high-end tight end production instead of looking to plug and play different TEs every week.

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Proven track record

There are just a handful of tight ends who have put up elite numbers at the tight end position. The obvious TEs like Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews go extremely early in fantasy drafts. But Kittle falls into that elite category when you look at the numbers he’s put up since 2018.

In 2018 and 2019, he finished as the TE2 behind Kelce, recording over 80 receptions and 1,000 yards receiving in both seasons. Despite missing two games in 2021 and 2022, he still finished as the TE4 and TE3, respectively.

Kittle is going early in the fifth round of drafts based on his current ADP and sometimes even drops to the sixth round. Finding elite production at a onesie position in the middle rounds of a fantasy draft is a luxury. Knowing you can keep Kittle locked in your lineup week in and week out is one less headache to deal with when setting up your roster.

Closing Statement

Kittle is considered one of the best tight ends in football, both for his blocking ability and pass-catching prowess. But his name isn’t brought up anymore when talking about the elite tight ends in fantasy like it was just a couple of years ago. It’s frankly disrespectful that the four-time Pro Bowler isn’t grouped together with the top TEs these days.

He is unfairly labeled as injury-prone because of the multitude of injuries San Francisco players suffer each year. He’s got a quarterback who looks for him in the end zone more than any other QB in his career. And he’s proven that he can be a top-three tight end on numerous occasions.

At only 29 years old, Kittle still has a lot left in the tank, and he will showcase his skills once again in 2023.

Comments says:

I picked him up in the 8th round in my 12 team ppr league. Steal!

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