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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Kyle Pitts No. 70

The Falcons rookie TE comes in at 70 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) catches a pass during mandatory minicamp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Complex. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons just traded away Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans leaving a huge whole in their passing offense. That void will in some ways be filled by No. 4 overall pick tight end Kyle Pitts. His fantasy relevancy in 2021 will depend on just how much he’s able to take over the baton from Jones, but he should at the very least be given a chance to earn as many targets as he can handle.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official and often updated fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 70, Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons, TE

When ranking Pitts, like any rookie tight end, we should probably look toward the lower spectrum of projections. Tight ends often have trouble transitioning to the NFL. They are more needed in blocking assignments than wide receivers and are usually overwhelmed. Can Pitts be an exception to the rule?

Competition for touches

Last season Julio Jones had 51 receptions for 771 yards and three touchdowns while tight end Hayden Hurst had 56 receptions for six touchdowns. Hurst is still there, but after Calvin Ridley Pitts is far and above the rest of the group as far as offensive talent and upside. If he can win the time, he’ll be the second-most targeted player on the team.

Team offensive expectations

The Falcons without Jones aren’t nearly the offense they were with him. The question really comes down to how quickly Pitts can ascend to that No. 2 receiver role. We can’t expect a great offense from Day 1, but they are set up to throw the ball a lot, as their defense is weak and they have journeyman Mike Davis to start at running back. New head coach Arthur Smith was able to cater his Titans offense to their strengths and got a lot out of a group many didn’t think would be as offensively adept as they are.

What’s his upside?

Pitts’ upside is why he’s so high on the list. He’s risky to say the least, but he also has the draft capital, ability and path toward good usage we just don’t see with many rookie tight ends. The team will want to get all they can out of their rookie, even if that means lining him out in the slot and out wide. If his blocking is a problem, it doesn’t mean he won’t see the field. That is how good of an offensive weapon he can be.

What’s his downside?

Downside is apparent in the possibility he ends up working behind Hayden Hurst until he can get his blocking assignments down. I do think he’ll have a role in Week 1 no matter what, but to truly get the volume he needs will be a tough ask.

Projection

65 receptions, 90 targets, 850 yards, 8 touchdowns