So, we have made it to Week 15 of the fantasy football season. For most, you are looking at your semi-final matchup and find yourself one week away from playing for the fantasy football championship. As we enter this week news has broke that 49ers tight end George Kittle has a chance to play this week against the Cowboys.


I’m here to tell you why starting Kittle is the ultimate trap play.

The Injury

Kittle suffered a fracture of the cuboid bone and was expected to miss around eight weeks. We are now a week ahead of schedule on his return with it being seven weeks since he suffered the injury and while he may be on schedule for a possible return there should still be some worries here. Foot injuries and receivers are rarely a good mix and we have seen plenty of players re-injury themselves when trying to come back to soon or find themselves with a lack of range when it comes to cutting and route running. Now, Kittle isn’t a player that necessarily relies on speed or quick cuts given that he is a tight end but if he has trouble getting off the ball or separating from defenders that will be a big problem when it comes to his productivity.

Playing Time

Ok, so, let’s say that Kittle practices this week and gets the green light to play. How many snaps is he realistically going to play in his return? Let’s take a look at how the 49ers have handled some players coming back from injury this season and their initial workload shall we?

Deebo Samuel suffered a foot injury that kept him from starting the season on time. In his season debut against the Eagles in Week 4 he played just 34-percent of the offensive snaps which was 25 snaps. Of those 25 snaps he ran a route on 15 of them meaning for 40-percent of the snaps he played he didn’t even have an opportunity to catch a pass which is going to limit his upside. He ultimately finished with four catches on four targets for 35 yards.

Jordan Reed had a few opportunities to be the lead tight end for the 49ers this season with Kittle missing a string of games on two separate occasions this year. Following his injury in Week 1 Reed played 46-percent of the offensive snaps and had a huge game. Unfortunately, Reed himself was injured in Week 3 and did not return until Week 9, the week following the Kittle injury, during that Week 9 return Reed played just 13 offensive snaps which totaled 23-percent of the team’s offensive snaps that game. Reed finished with one catch on two targets for three yards.  

So, there we have two players that have missed time due to injury this season for the 49ers and upon their return they played limited snaps with a range of 23-to-34-percent of the offensive plays. Are you really looking to trust a player who may only see 1/4 of the team’s offensive plays? Sure, Kittle could be used primarily in the red zone and thus increase his touchdown probability but hoping for touchdowns is a tough life to live when it comes to fantasy production.

The Matchups

The matchups are likely the more appealing reasons to want to play Kittle when you look at it on paper. The 49ers play the Cowboys in Week 15 and the Cardinals in Week 16. The Cowboys of course have struggled defensively all season long but against the tight end position they actually haven’t been too bad. Now, they have allowed six touchdowns to tight ends this season and that could benefit Kittle if the 49ers plan to use him as a red zone only threat, but Cowboy’s do have solid cover linebacker in Leighton Vander Esch that would likely be tasked with handling Kittle and if he is at all limited that matchup may lean more in LVE’s favor than usual. As for his Week 16 opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, the matchup is far less ideal.  The Cardinals have allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to the tight end position after being the worst team in football against the tight end last year. In the offseason the Cardinals addressed their tight end cover issues by drafting Isaiah Simmons and signing De’Vondre Campbell to help shutdown this position.  Could Kittle be better in Week 16 than in Week 15 with a game under his belt? Possibly, but the matchup isn’t conducive to success.

The Position

I know the tight end position this season has been a crapshoot so the appeal of using Kittle may be hard to ignore but if you find yourself looking to stream the position you are better off looking to identify the better matchups and look for someone like a Logan Thomas , Cole Kmet or Irv Smith that find themselves available on waivers in good matchups to be productive.

Don’t cost yourself a shot at the fantasy football championship by falling for the trap plays.