The tight end landscape is absolutely desolate, but fantasy football fans are about to get one of the best in the game back on the field. The San Francisco 49ers activated tight end George Kittle, and the superstar is expected to play in Week 16. Should you trust Kittle, or does he carry too much risk coming off of injury?
George Kittle Week 16 Fantasy Football Outlook
Normally, starting George Kittle is a no-brainer. At his best, Travis Kelce and MAYBE Darren Waller are the only players that can hold a candle to Kittle’s dominance. However, George Kittle is not at his best. The former fifth-round pick is coming off of a serious injury, and won’t be ready for a full workload.
Don’t take my word for it, head coach Kyle Shanahan said the same thing. Speaking to reporters on Christmas Eve, the 49ers head coach said that Kittle will be on “something of a snap count”. While he didn’t go into any further details, it’s safe to assume Kittle won’t have his typical 90% snap share.
Kittle’s limited workload puts a cap on his ceiling, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have any fantasy football relevance. The 49ers are out of playoff contention, and Kittle wouldn’t be coming back if San Francisco believed he was at any risk of re-injury. Kittle will see the field, and he’s probably healthy enough to look something like his former self when on the field. There is value in a player like that, but how much value? Let’s take a dive into Kittle’s situation to see what we can expect.
George Kittle’s Situation
The 2020 San Francisco 49ers are one of the most injured teams in the league, and that trend has continued into Week 16. Nick Mullens suffered an elbow injury in Week 15, and Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t ready to return to the field. This leaves C.J. Beathard atop the depth chart as the person responsible for feeding Kittle.
Beathard played in four games this year, but only came in for relief. Because of this, it doesn’t make sense to look at any of Kittle’s 2020 splits with and without Beathard. In order to truly judge Beathard and Kittle’s success together, we’ll need to go back to 2018. Beathard started in Weeks 4-8 of the 2018 season, and Kittle averaged 14.7 PPR fantasy points per game in those five games (five receptions, 78.7 yards, 0.3 touchdowns). This is obviously fantastic production for the position, so we know Beathard is capable of getting the ball to Kittle.
Looking at San Francisco’s supporting cast, it’s safe to assume that Kittle will be targeted when on the field. Deebo Samuel will miss Week 16, leaving Brandon Aiyuk as the only other reliable option in the passing game. Aiyuk is having a fantastic season, but he’s not going to steal 100% of the targets.
Ultimately, George Kittle should be a solid fantasy football option this week. C.J. Beathard has proven capable of getting him the ball in the past, and there isn’t any real competition for targets outside of Brandon Aiyuk. While rust and a limited workload drags down Kittle’s overall projection, his talent combined with the absolute lack of worthwhile fantasy options puts him safely in the TE5-8 range.
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