The 2023 fantasy football season is in full swing and it's time for another NFL player debate! If you haven’t had your fantasy football draft yet, then you are probably looking over the fantasy football player rankings. You’ve already printed out and studied the Ultimate Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet, right? Great. What about doing some fantasy football mock drafts? Incredible. 

But even with all of that research, you are probably still staring at certain players, wondering if drafting them at their current fantasy football ADP is, not just giving you the proper value, but if they are even right for you or your team. Is the juice worth the squeeze? 

This is where we come in with our all-new Fantasy Football Player Debate series where two analysts go head-to-head and give you the pros and cons to help with your decisions.

Today, Colby Conway and Kevin Tompkins go head-to-head to help you decide whether you want to or even should draft Atlanta Falcons TE Kyle Pitts


Why You Should Draft Kyle Pitts in Fantasy Football

By Kevin Tompkins

Kyle Pitts is a generational talent who put up a 1,000-yard season at age-21, but only scored one touchdown. “Touchdown regression!” was screamed from the rooftops to help pave the way for his ascension to the Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews tier last season in fantasy.

Then 2022 happened.

Look, I get it. The Atlanta Falcons brought professional football back to the Paleozoic Age by running the ball into the ground last season. Marcus Mariota was an abject failure at quarterback and will likely never get another starting job in the NFL again. The passing game weapons in Atlanta were pretty much unstartable in fantasy for most of the season, mostly thanks to Marcus Mariota, who head coach Arthur Smith needed to hide during the season behind a robust run game.

How bad was it for the pass-catchers in the Falcons offense? Per PFF, Kyle Pitts had the worst catchable target rate (59%) of any tight end who ran at least 200 routes last season. The average for tight ends with 200+ routes was 79%. Simply put, the offensive environment was putrid. It can only get better in 2023.

Gone is the close to the early-mid third round price tag we were paying projecting a 2022 breakout. Now, it’s mostly a sixth-round ADP we’re looking at for the services of Pitts this draft season; a much more palatable price to draft what some would label a “post-hype sleeper” but even in a disastrous offense, Pitts still showed the fantastic peripheral stats we want. Like the 1.7 yards per route run (fourth among tight ends last season), the 13.8-yard aDOT and a massive targets per route run profile that was admittedly skewed by how little Atlanta passed the ball in 2022.

This high-aDOT, high TPRR/YPRR profile is the blueprint for elite tight end seasons like Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and exciting profiles like Greg Dulcich who comes off draft boards much later.

The Falcons should have more than 415 pass attempts this season with last season’s third-round quarterback Desmond Ridder at the helm and even if he fails, Taylor Heinicke is waiting in the wings and that’s not the worst thing in the world as far as a backup who is used to needing to pass the ball from his days in Washington. Even with Ridder, the offense trended more towards the pass, where the team averaged just shy of 29 pass attempts per game in his starts. In Mariota’s starts, the Falcons averaged just over 23 pass attempts per game.

No tight end going anywhere near his draft range has the clear upside Pitts has, and he’s already gotten 1,000 receiving yards as a rookie two seasons ago. A path to an elite tight end fantasy season relies on some touchdowns, more pass attempts, and health, of course. Even adding 100 pass attempts to the Falcons puts them at 510 pass attempts this season, which is still well below average for an NFL team. Atlanta can certainly hit that benchmark and possibly eclipse that. 

If we’re expecting a jump in pass attempts and want to bet on the elite player, I’m taking Kyle Pitts every time over Drake London. I’ll take Pitts knowing that when we get more raw passing in this offense, it’s going to benefit me at a position where even a slight increase yields much more production at the tight end position vs. wide receiver where that production might bump London up a spot or two in the wide receiver rankings.

Why You Should Not Draft Kyle Pitts in Fantasy Football

By Colby Conway

After being all aboard the Kyle Pitts hype train in 2022, I find myself on the other side here in 2023. No, I am not a disgruntled fantasy manager who isn’t drafting Pitts because “he let me down last year,” let me get that point across right away. That’s not the case. We shall not forget that he became just the second tight end ever to record 1,000+ yards in their rookie season. He’s a supreme talent and unicorn at the position.

He ultimately missed the final third of the season in 2022, but in the games he did play, he was pacing for 48 grabs on 100 targets for 605 yards and three touchdowns across 17 games. Terrible quarterback play hurt him, and he was wildly inefficient for fantasy managers due to that. Over his first two NFL campaigns, his 17-game pace comes out to 60 receptions for 870 yards and two touchdowns, which would have placed him as the TE6 in PPR formats last season, and the TE12, TE7, and TE9 in the three seasons prior.

Here’s all I’ll say: Be careful pushing Pitts up too high in drafts. After posting a 1.80 yards per route run out of the slot in 2021, that mark fell to 1.05 in 2022, per Pro Football Focus, and his route participation marks and pass blocking frequency trended in the wrong direction ever so slightly. Desmond Ridder is going to be the team’s starting quarterback, and I fear that inefficient quarterback play is going to hamper Pitts’ outlook once again. Oh, Atlanta figures to once again be a slower-paced, run-first football team with Arthur Smith at the helm.

Smith has led tight end friendly offenses in the past, and the tight end position in Atlanta accounted for the fifth-highest target share last season (26.1%) and third-highest in 2021 (28.5%). However, keep in mind that the fifth-highest target share is a bit of a mirage, seeing as Atlanta had the second-fewest pass attempts in the league last season, and furthermore, Smith-led teams have never finished higher than 19th in the league in pass attempts when he’s been the OC or HC.

Ridder started the final four games of the season in 2022, and the big numbers to note here are that he averaged 28.75 pass attempts per game, and tight ends only had a target share of 18.2 percent. Projecting to 2023, an average of 28.75 pass attempts per game comes out to 488 attempts over 17 games, which would be a sizable jump compared to the 415 pass attempts Atlanta had in 2022. Here’s a few numbers looking at potential targets to the tight end spot, however, we’ll acknowledge up front that Pitts didn’t play in any of Ridder’s starts, so the team was devoid of a playmaker of Pitts’ caliber at the position:

Pass Attempts

TE Target Share

Total Targets for TE



















*all numbers rounded down

Since August 1, Pitts is the sixth tight end off the board, ahead of the likes of Dallas Goedert, Evan Engram, David Njoku, and Dalton Schultz. If Pitts slips in drafts, he’s a fine target, but at cost, can you trust Desmond Ridder to support a top-five or top-six tight end? Does Arthur Smith’s run-heavy and slow-paced offense lend itself to enough volume for Pitts? Can he finally become a prominent red zone factor? That’s a lot of questions for a guy who is oftentimes the fifth tight end off the board.


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