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What to do with George Kittle in Week 9 fantasy football

George Kittle has found the end zone one time this season and ranks eighth in tight end scoring. Will he start his ascent up the rankings against the Cardinals on Thursday night?

Carolina Panthers defensive back Tre Boston tackles San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle during the third quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Last week George Kittle had yet another good game, as he caught 6-of-8 targets for 86 yards. He’s been a steady fantasy player at a thin position and leads the 49ers with 49 targets while Deebo Samuel is second with 25 targets on the season. He’s getting 26.3 percent of the 49ers targets and is bringing them in at a good completion rate of 81.6 percent.

The trouble for his fantasy backers this year is a lack of touchdowns, as he has one on the season. He’s also had three touchdowns overturned by penalties, so his touchdown numbers are deceiving. He is still very much on pace with his overall numbers from last season, and we should expect his touchdowns to regress to the mean sooner than later.

Fantasy Football Analysis, San Francisco TE George Kittle

As you might have heard through the grapevine, the Cardinals have not exactly stopped opposing tight ends from putting up fantasy points this season. So far, we have a long list of tight ends that have taken advantage of their defense: T.J. Hockenson — 6/131/1, Mark Andrews — 8/112/1, Hayden Hurst — 1/1, Greg Olsen — 6/75/2, Will Dissly — 7/57/1, Austin Hooper — 8/117/1, and Rhett Ellison — 2/31/1. On the season, they’ve allowed the most touchdowns, the most fantasy points, the second-most yards, receptions, and fantasy points per reception. So, Kittle has a good matchup.

With the 49ers, we always need to take into account their want to run the ball. So far, they have averaged 38.9 rushing attempts per game, which leads the league by a wide margin, while Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown the ball 27.1 times per game, which ranks 31st, while his 19 completions per game tied for 32nd. Also, they are undefeated, so these numbers aren’t going to fluctuate until they get behind by a significant amount. And going into Thursday night as ten-point favorites over the Cardinals is not the matchup where they are likely to start trailing.

This is all to say that Kittle’s upside isn’t likely to show itself on Thursday night, but even in a low volume passing attack, he is the no-doubt lead receiver who needs a little more touchdown luck to put up Top-3 tight end fantasy stats. The Cardinals, so far, have helped tight ends find the end zone more than any other team, so a Kittle touchdown or two is very much a possibility this week.

Traditional Fantasy Start/Sit Recommendation

Start.

DraftKings DFS Recommendation

In Thursday through Monday contests, Kittle is the most expensive tight end at $7,000. There are cheaper plays worth considering, but none as safe as his matchup with the Cardinals. If you play any cash games on that slate, Kittle is a strong anchor.

For the Thursday Night Showdown, Kittle might be the chalkiest play in the history of chalk, but it is nearly impossible not to play him. Tevin Coleman and Kittle are easily the safest plays with the most upside on the slate, and I’d instead look to differentiate my teams through the other four positions.