- ESPN contributor on TV, radio, podcasts, blogs, Magazine
- Charter member of FSWA Hall of Fame
- Author of “The Best Philadelphia Sports Arguments”
Each Friday during the 2022 NFL and fantasy football season, Eric Karabell will bring his always-reasonable perspective to highlight the biggest fantasy football storylines heading into the weekend’s games, particularly those players on the “hot seat” or under the most pressure to perform.
Fantasy football managers seem none too pleased with their tight ends these days. They’re never a patient lot to start with, but to that point, 10 of the first 14 tight ends chosen in ESPN average live drafts are currently rostered in fewer leagues than they were a week ago, and some far more than others. Oh, Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews and Darren Waller are safe and productive, and the only other one trending upward is … well, it’s Pittsburgh Steelers starter Pat Freiermuth. Congrats to Pat, but, as the saying goes (and adjusted for fantasy context), rent that fantasy roster spot, don’t buy. Fantasy managers will turn on you quickly.
Some of the tight ends on the positional most-dropped list are past the point of being on the proverbial hot seat, which is our weekly focus in this space, but then we see a few names that seem hard to believe. Atlanta Falcons star — yep, still a star — Kyle Pitts was the No. 6 tight end in PPR scoring as a rookie, the first at his position to achieve 1,000 receiving yards in his first season since Mike Ditka a really, really long time ago. Pitts went in the fourth round of recent drafts. He has two catches and 19 receiving yards in each game so far — a troubling symmetry to be sure — and nary a touchdown, and there is panic.
To be clear, Pitts remains rostered in more than 98% of ESPN standard leagues, but it was 99% last week. Another quiet performance this Sunday in Seattle would chop that number down quickly. Mistake? Of course, it is. Pitts is incredibly talented, and he was unlucky to score only one touchdown last season. He had more receiving yards than all but 23 players. Bet on talent, we tend to say. The Falcons seem to be curiously ignoring that talent, but we remain confident things will work out. If they don’t work out this week, then, well, just blame the Falcons, not us.
Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, by the way, is probably not a fantasy football manager. He said this when reporters asked him about the lack of targets for Pitts: “It’s not fantasy football. We’re just trying to win. We will continue to look at everything and try to get better.”
Well, the Falcons have yet to win, so perhaps throw to Pitts more and see if you can change that.
It’s hardly something new for eager, impatient fantasy managers to swap out players even after only a fortnight of games, but there does seem to be more overreaction at this position, this season, at least compared with the past. Kelce and Andrews are different, and Waller — who went after Pitts in ADP — had a nice Week 2. Just about everyone else is being swapped out for the likes of Gerald Everett (OK, his value is definitely rising), Logan Thomas (yes, I am a fan) and Tyler Higbee (sure, why not).
Pitts, along with Dallas Goedert, T.J. Hockenson, Dalton Schultz (who is hurt) and Zach Ertz, should not see their roster figures drop, but in each case that is occurring, even if it’s by a slight margin. They’re proven, reliable players. George Kittle has yet to play, but fantasy managers can add Everett or Thomas and keep him around. One suspects if Kittle misses another week, they might not. We can’t tell you how many games Kittle will play this season, but they should be formidable ones.
With Dawson Knox, Cole Kmet, Mike Gesicki and Hunter Henry, it makes sense that they are no longer popular, but one could easily argue they can still be just as productive this season as Everett, Thomas and Higbee. OK, dropping a top-10 draft-day TE for Taysom Hill and O.J. Howard seems a bit silly, but the Bills are so invested in Knox. It seems like more targets will be coming his way. Everyone agreed to move on from Gesicki after Week 1 and then, of course, he scored a touchdown in Week 2 to remind everyone why they drafted him in the first place.
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