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ADP Showdown - Zach Ertz vs George Kittle


The tight end position in fantasy has become a bit of a wasteland over the last few years. There is just not a lot of depth to speak of. The group is very top-heavy with consistent scorers making them options that many owners covet in drafts. Once you get through the players at the top end of the position, the remainder gets very weak very fast. This puts owners in a position early in drafts in which they have to decide on whether or not to take the plunge. This decision can have major implications on your roster construction through the remainder of the draft. Grabbing one of the tight ends early means that you forego quality players at other positions for a round or two.

Two of the tight ends that are hotly debated going into drafts currently are Zach Ertz and George Kittle. Both are elite players at the position and will be gone off draft boards by the end of the third round. Selecting one of these two players ensures, that barring injury, you have solidified the position in your starting lineups each week. Most owners view this strategy as one that can give you the leg up on the competition. But it also one that can hinder you at the same time. Because you are paying a draft cost for players that may not meet the expectations that are placed so highly on them. Both of these tight ends put up record-setting numbers in 2018, but can you expect them to again top that in 2019? Drafting them at their current ADP would indicate that most owners believe they will.

But who do you prefer between the two? Facing a decision at the end of the second round, you could have your hand forced. So we will jump into the numbers and determine just who has the edge as we head into the 2019 season in this ADP Showdown.

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Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

ADP: TE2 (24th Overall)

Ertz put together an all-time great year at the position in 2018. He set the NFL record with 116 receptions and finished as the TE2 by season's end. He led the position in snaps (949), routes ran (550), and targets (156). Where he was behind the pace was in receiving yards (4th with 1,163 yards) and scoring (4th with 8 TDs). Ertz has historically had a tough time getting into the end-zone but now has gone back to back seasons with eight TDs. Even with other highly skilled weapons around him, Ertz has become the focal point of this passing attack over the last few seasons.

Entering the 2019 season, little is expected to change with Ertz and his role with the Eagles. He will remain a high-floor option at the position in fantasy and one of the more "can't miss" players you can add on draft day. But is the juice worth the squeeze? With the draft capital that you have to spend on a player like Ertz, you are essentially fading on your WR1 in the second round. But locking in your TE1 and not worrying on a weekly basis has some value in its own right. Even with the addition of DeSean Jackson and the progression of Dallas Goedert, Ertz will still see at minimum 140 targets. If he can remain healthy, look for Ertz to finally take a crack at the ever-elusive 10 TD season. If he gets to that point, Ertz may indeed finish the 2019 season as the overall TE1.

 

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

ADP: TE3 (29th Overall)

Kittle exploded onto the scene in 2018 pacing the position in receiving yards (1,377). He also led the position in RAC (9.7) while finishing third in targets (136), receptions (88), fantasy points (259), and YPR (15.6). Where Kittle fell behind was in scoring where he could only muster 5 TDs. Much of that could be contributed to the mess at the QB position that the 49ers had to deal with during the season. With players falling in and out from under center, it was surprising to see Kittle put together the year-end stat line that he did. But the team as a whole fought injuries all season and Kittle was the one true constant in the passing attack.

Now as we head into the upcoming season, we are back to square one with the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo is again fully healthy as well as the weapons surrounding Kittle. With Garoppolo back under center, this passing attack should see a stark improvement in plays down the field. Over the past two seasons, Kittles 44 plays of over 15 yards rank only behind Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski. This could have an adverse effect on his target and catch totals but I do expect to see a spike in scoring for Kittle this year. He may not close in on 10 TDs in 2019, but seeing him get to eight is a realistic number. But as is the case with Ertz, Kittle will have one of the safest floors at the position this year.

 

Verdict

This can be a tough call between these two players in drafts. Many owners have their preferences on each and will stand firm on that during the draft. But who will be the right call? If I am going to take the plunge between these two players at the end of the second round, for me it will be Ertz. He is on what now should be a more highly productive offense and has proven his value over the course of several seasons. Ertz continues to improve each season and I could see him taking another step forward in 2019. Kittle is not a player to turn your nose up at, as he should have a great season himself, but for me, the player to draft will be Ertz.

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