Lost password?

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!


Receive free daily analysis


Already have an account? Log In


Forgot Password


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Weekly Rankings
Compare Any Players
Starts and Sit
Daily Fantasy
Who To Pickup
Fantasy Updates
24x7 News and Alerts

NFL Rookie Spotlight - Kyle Pitts

The enthusiasm for NFL draft prospects surges to enormous levels on an annual basis, while reaching its pinnacle when the destinations for members of each rookie class have been determined. You can find the words “generational talent” and “freak athlete” contained in the evaluations of certain newcomers, and each of these terms is largely overused. But both designations apply to Atlanta’s Kyle Pitts, whose exceptional blend of size, speed, and athleticism is rarely found in a player who is classified as a tight end.

This has launched him onto the fantasy landscape with a wave of hype that transcends the usual expectations for a player who performs at his position. He is minimally a top-three selection in the majority of rookie drafts and is extremely capable of delivering an immediate impact. He also provides the potential for accumulating highly productive performances on a repeated basis during the foreseeable future.

Pitts will be infused into a Falcons' offense that will be guided by a first-year head coach and will undergo an on-field transformation following the departure of Julio Jones. These elements of transition will blend with other factors in determining Pitts’ usage and output, and his prospects of matching the escalating expectations will be examined in this profile.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Making NFL Draft History 

Pitts became the 10th tight end since 2010 to be selected in Round 1 of the NFL Draft, and the 25th to receive that designation since 2000.

He was also the first tight end in league history to be drafted inside the top-five when Atlanta selected him fourth overall.

Year Round Position Tight End Team
2021 1 4 Kyle Pitts Falcons
2019 1 8 T.J. Hockenson Lions
2019 1 20 Noah Fant Broncos
2018 1 25 Hayden Hurst Ravens
2017 1 19 O.J. Howard Buccaneers
2017 1 23 Evan Engram Giants
2017 1 29 David Njoku Browns
2014 1 10 Eric Ebron Lions
2013 1 21 Tyler Eifert Bengals
2010 1 21 Jermaine Gresham Bengals
2009 1 20 Brandon Pettigrew Lions
2008 1 30 Dustin Keller Jets
2007 1 31 Greg Olsen Bears
2006 1 6 Vernon Davis 49ers
2006 1 28 Marcedes Lewis Jaguars
2005 1 30 Heath Miller Steelers

Pitts initially performed at quarterback during his high school career. But he made the transition to tight end after transferring before his junior year. He eventually became a four-star recruit before his enrollment at Florida (2018), then proceeded to collect 100 receptions, assemble 1,492 yards, and generate 18 touchdowns during his three seasons as a Gator.

Pitts also produced 97 receptions, 1,419 yards, and 17 touchdowns during his final two years at Gainesville. This includes the 12 touchdowns that he accumulated during 2020, which tied him for third among all players regardless of position.

His overall yardage total was the highest for a tight end in Florida’s history, while he also generated the second-highest number of career receptions. Pitts became the first tight end to be named as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which is presented to the most outstanding receiver in college football regardless of position. He also received the John Mackey Award, which is presented to the nation’s premier tight end on an annual basis.

Pitts was also a unanimous first-team All-American and finished among the top-10 in voting for the Heisman Trophy. His aforementioned combination of speed, size, and athleticism allowed him to demonstrate his prowess as both a highly proficient receiving weapon and an unquestioned matchup nightmare for overwhelmed opponents. This also elevated him among this year’s most intriguing prospects prior to his first-round selection by the Falcons.


An Exceptional Pro-Day

Pitts’ performance at Florida's Pro-Day supplied a favorable fusion of appealing measurables with impressive results in multiple events. The 6’6”, 245-pound Pitts provided reminders of the unique qualities that he possesses on a repeated basis, which included his completion of the 40-yard dash in a scorching 4.44.

The display of speed was significant, as it vaulted Pitts atop a list of times that were generated by recent prospects at his position.

This demonstration of his blazing speed combined with other Pro Day results to raise expectations surrounding his eventual output at the NFL level. Pitts also accumulated 22 reps in the bench press, completed a vertical jump of 33 ½ inches, and delivered a broad jump of 10 feet, 9 inches.


Joining An Offense In Transition

The selection of Pitts represented just one of the Falcons’ high-profile changes that transpired during the offseason. This included a transformation within the front office and the coaching staff when owner Arthur Blank replaced former General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and Head Coach Dan Quinn with Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith, respectively.

Smith now enters his first season as a head coach at the professional level, and his deployment of the players that comprise Atlanta’s offense will not replicate his usage of weaponry during his tenure as Tennessee’s offensive coordinator (2019-2020). However, it remains beneficial to review the Titans’ numbers while Smith was the architect of their attack.

Tennessee had ranked 25th in total offense (312.4 yards per game), 29th in passing (185.9 yards per game), and 27th in scoring (19.4 points per game) during 2018 before Smith was promoted to the offensive coordinator position. But the Titans rose to 10th in total offense during 2019 (362.8 yards per game) while averaging 50.4 additional yards per game. Their passing attack improved to 21st (223.9 yards per game) and the offense soared to 10th in scoring (25.1 points per game).

Tennessee also climbed to third in total offense in 2020 (396.4 yards per game) while completing the year as one of just four teams to average over 30 points per game (30.7). The Titans also finished 30th in pass play percentage (49.5%), with Derrick Henry operating as the foundation of their attack. However, only four teams distributed a higher percentage of targets to their tight ends (29.6%), while Tennessee finished 19th in targets to wide receivers (55.9%) and tied for 31st in targets that were allocated to running backs (12.4%).

Mike Davis is primed to operate as the Falcons’ lead back after generating career highs in rushing attempts (165/11 per game), rushing yards (642/42.8 per game), and rushing touchdowns (six) for Carolina in 2020. However, he does not have the capacity to match the effectiveness that has been delivered on a weekly basis by Henry. This ensures that Henry’s extensive usage with Tennessee will not function as a blueprint for Smith’s design of Atlanta's offense.

Smith also inherits an attack that has jettisoned Julio Jones, who stockpiled 1,322 targets (9.8 per game), 848 receptions (6.3 per game), and 12,896 yards (95.5 per game) during 135 regular-season games with the Falcons. Jones also accumulated 12,000 career yards faster than any receiver in NFL history (125 games). That included the 9,388 yards (1,565 per year) that he accumulated from 2014-2019 while averaging 162 targets and 104 receptions during those six seasons. Atlanta’s decision to trade Jones clearly has removed a potent weapon from the team’s offensive arsenal. However, it also eliminated a sizable obstacle that would otherwise have placed restraints on Pitts’ weekly target totals.


An Opportunity To Thrive 

Smith should concoct an attack that will emphasize the distribution of passes from Matt Ryan to Atlanta’s most proficient receiving weapons. This will undoubtedly include Pitts.

Atlanta ranked 18th in total offense during 2020 (368.4 points per game), while the Falcons’ passing attack finished fifth overall (272.7 yards per game) and 16th in scoring (24.8 points per game). Ryan led the NFL in passing attempts (626/39.1 per game) and completions (407/25.4 per game) during the 2020 regular season. He was also fourth in passing yardage (4,581/286.3 per game), which extended his streak to 10 consecutive seasons with 4,000+ yards.

Atlanta was also eighth in pass play percentage (62.1%) and seventh in targets that were distributed to wide receivers (66.3%). The Falcons also ranked just 24th in team targets to their tight ends (17.2%). However, that percentage is destined to rise as Smith reshapes the team’s attack. Smith should capitalize on Pitts' ability to function effectively on routes that extend beyond the usual range for tight ends.

This will present a major challenge for defensive coordinators, who will be required to become highly creative in their allocation of resources. That also presents Smith with an opportunity to exploit matchup advantages that simply did not exist with his tight end options in Tennessee. Smith can now maximize the collection of attributes that Pitts possesses while blending deeper routes into the rookie’s expansive route tree. This will result in a contrast to Smith’s deployment of Jonnu Smith, who averaged 5.5 aDOT (average depth of target) and 6.9 yards per target during 2020.

The selection of Pitts automatically ended Hayden Hurst's one-year tenure as Atlanta's TE1. The Falcons had received the former first-round pick from Baltimore during March of 2020, in exchange for two draft selections (second-round/fifth-round).

But even though the addition of Pitts instantly fueled Hurst's descent on the Falcons' depth chart, Smith's extensive deployment of 12 personnel should remain intact. This should keep Hurst involved in the offense. But he will fail to approach the 14.4% target share that he attained last season.


Competition For Targets

Weeks 1-17 Targets Rec Yards 100+ YPC YPT Air Yards
Calvin Ridley 143 90 1374 8 15.3 9.6 2018
Russell Gage 109 72 786 1 10.9 7.2 956
Hayden Hurst 88 56 571 0 10.2 6.5 566
Julio Jones 68 51 771 3 15.1 11.3 764
Todd Gurley 35 25 164 0 6.6 4.7 54
Olamide Zaccheaus 32 20 274 1 13.7 8.6 440
Brian Hill 30 25 199 0 8 6.6 38
Ito Smith 26 17 75 0 4.4 2.9 1
Christian Blake 18 13 141 0 10.8 7.8 173
Brandon Powell 18 12 69 0 5.8 3.8 83

Pitts will not contend with formidable competition for targets with the exception of Calvin Ridley, who commandeered a team-high 25.1% share during 2020. This continued his steady career progression, as Ridley finished at WR5 in scoring while leading the league in air yards (2,018) and yards before catch (1,099).

He also eclipsed 100 yards in a league-high eight games while finishing fourth among all wide receivers in receiving yardage (1,374) and seventh in first down receptions (65). Ridley also established new career-highs in yards per reception (15.3) and in aDOT (average depth of target - 14.3) while placing among the top-13 in both categories.

Ridley also expanded his per-game averages in 2018-2019 (6.4 targets/4.4 receptions/51.2 yards) to 9.5 targets, 6.0 receptions, and 91.6 receiving yards last season, as he finished fourth among all receivers in yardage (1,374), fifth in first down receptions (65), seventh in targets (143/9.6 per game), and 11th in receptions (90). Ridley also established new career-highs in yards per reception (15.3) and also in average depth of target (14.3).

Ridley also ascended beyond Jones to become Atlanta's top receiving weapon. Now, the Falcons' decision to extract Jones from their roster should fuel Ridley's rise into elite status. Any lingering doubt that Ridley can benefit statistically from Jones' departure can be eviscerated by his per-game averages during the seven games in which Jones was absent in 2020 (11.3 targets/7.1 receptions/109.3 yards).

Without Julio Games Targets Targ/Gm Rec Yards
Calvin Ridley 7 79 11.3 50 765
Russell Gage 7 45 6.4 30 340
Olamide Zaccheaus 2 10 5 5 54

However, Ridley will not be the only returning Falcon who will commandeer a larger target share following the exodus of Jones, as Russell Gage should emerge as the Falcons' WR2. Gage began 2020 with career totals of 616 snaps, 84 targets (2.7 per game), 55 receptions (1.8 per game), and 509 yards (16.4 per game). But he obliterated those numbers last season - 109 targets (6.8 per game), 72 receptions (4.5 per game), 786 yards (49.1 per game).

Gage operated from the slot on 74% of his routes while his career-best 68% snap share placed third behind Ridley and Hurst. He collected 10+ targets in four different matchups, although just two of those outings transpired without Jones in the lineup.

Gage averaged 6.4 targets, 4.3 receptions, and 48.6 yards per game during the seven matchups when Jones was sidelined, which did not produce a significant rise or drop when contrasted with his averages during the regular season. Gage did eclipse 100 yards during Atlanta’s season opener (114) and surpassed 80 yards in both Weeks 14/17. But he also failed to reach 50 yards in eight different matchups.

Olamide Zaccheaus will also begin his third season with the prospects of an expanded role. After minimal involvement during his 2019 rookie season (87 snaps/5.0 targets/115 yards), Zaccheaus performed on 308 snaps (27% share) and averaged 2.9 targets, 1.8 receptions, and 24.9 yards per game in 2020. He ran 58% of his routes outside, which were blended with his deployment from the slot (39%).

A toe injury abruptly concluded his season after Week 12, which limited him to just two matchups without Jones in the lineup (5.0 targets/2.5 receptions/27 yards per game). However, Zaccheaus received his highest snap shares in Weeks 3 (79%) and 5 (97%) when Jones was unavailable.

Hurst finished third on the team in targets (88/5.5 per game) and receptions (56/3.5 per game) and was second to Ridley in receiving touchdowns (six). All of those numbers established new career highs for Hurst while he also finished TE10 in PPR scoring. The addition of Pitts negatively impacted Hurst’s value. But his outlook became more favorable following the migration of Jones, as Smith’s penchant for 12 personnel should keep him sufficiently involved in the passing attack to retain relevance.

Davis finished third among all running backs in targets (70/5.0 per game) and receptions (59/3.9 per game) and was fourth in receiving yards (373/24.9 per game) from Weeks 2-16. He will commandeer a respectable share of opportunities as a pass-catcher from the backfield.


Pitts' Outlook

It is possible that Pitts will encounter a formidable learning curve while navigating the intricacies that exist when transitioning to the NFL. However, there is a far greater likelihood that Pitts will evade the usual hurdles that impede rookie tight ends from accumulating favorable numbers. He should navigate all obstacles, as the convergence of exceptional talent and enormous opportunity propel him to a highly productive season.

Pitts’ exclusive set of attributes have provided Smith with enormous incentive to utilize him as an integral component in Atlanta’s restructured attack. The departure of Jones has also accelerated his timeline for that process to develop.

Pitts will also operate with a level of usage that will only be exceeded by Ridley within Atlanta’s receiving arsenal. He can consistently unleash a rare level of athleticism on overmatched opponents. He also possesses agility that defies his size and blends it with route running acumen that allows him to achieve separation - even when executing patterns that would normally be reserved for wide receivers.

He also delivers the propensity to prevail when he encounters congested-catch situations. This will allow Smith to maximize Pitts' versatility since he is capable of functioning as an effective weapon regardless of where he is deployed on the field.

Combining these factors with the shortage of enticing options at the tight end position should compel fantasy managers to confidently select Pitts among the top three during any remaining rookie drafts. He can also be targeted during Round 4 in redraft and best-ball leagues while he is also worthy of selection in Round 3 of TE Premium leagues.

Download Our Free News & Alerts Mobile App

Like what you see? Download our updated fantasy football app for iPhone and Android with 24x7 player news, injury alerts, rankings, starts/sits & more. All free!

Win Big With RotoBaller

Be sure to also check out all of our other daily fantasy football articles and analysis to help you set those winning lineups, including this new RotoBaller YouTube video:

More NFL Rookie Profiles


Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Weekly Rankings
Compare Any Players
Starts and Sit
Daily Fantasy
Who To Pickup
Fantasy Updates
24x7 News and Alerts




Nolan Jones11 mins ago

Homers Twice For Albuquerque
Jonathan Toews12 mins ago

Returns To Action Saturday
Tyler Toffoli22 mins ago

Nets Two Goals Against Vancouver
Clayton Keller31 mins ago

Keeps Point Streak Going Friday
Jason Robertson43 mins ago

Sets New Stars Scoring Record
Adam Fox53 mins ago

Continues Hot Spell With A Goal
Casey Mittelstadt1 hour ago

Hands Out Two Assists
Steven Kwan2 hours ago

Plates Five In Win Over Seattle
Tee Higgins10 hours ago

Not Concerned About Contract Situation
Jeff Skinner10 hours ago

Scores Game-Winning Goal In Overtime
Devon Levi10 hours ago

Earns Victory In NHL Debut
A.J. Puk12 hours ago

Picks Up Save For Marlins Friday
Rhys Hoskins12 hours ago

Undergoes Successful Knee Surgery
Nick Solak12 hours ago

Mariners Acquire Nick Solak From Reds
Justin Verlander12 hours ago

Does Some Light Throwing
Luis Urías13 hours ago

Luis Urias Reportedly Heading To Injured List
Joey Wiemer13 hours ago

Reportedly Will Be Called Up
Anthony Rendon13 hours ago

Being Investigated By MLB
Willson Contreras14 hours ago

Receives Good News On Friday
Zach Collins15 hours ago

Out Against Golden State
De'Andre Hunter15 hours ago

Out With A Knee Injury On Friday
Oscar Gonzalez15 hours ago

Starting On Friday
Obi Toppin15 hours ago

Will Start Against The Cavs
Jarrett Allen15 hours ago

Downgraded To Out On Friday
Nelson Cruz16 hours ago

Batting Cleanup On Friday
Mike Moustakas16 hours ago

Remains Out Again
Michael Brantley16 hours ago

Takes Batting Practice
Andrew Vaughn16 hours ago

Sitting On Friday
Gavin Sheets18 hours ago

Oscar Colas Starting On Friday
Paul Sewald18 hours ago

Picks Up Win On Opening Day
Garrett Whitlock18 hours ago

Making Rehab Start Friday
Josh Rojas18 hours ago

Hitting Leadoff Against Dodgers
Corey Julks18 hours ago

Making MLB Debut Against White Sox
Bryan Reynolds18 hours ago

Opt-Out Clause The Sticking Point For Bryan Reynolds Extension
Portland Trail Blazers18 hours ago

LaMarcus Aldridge Officially Retires From The NBA
Jamal Murray19 hours ago

Considered Questionable Against Phoenix
Nikola Jokic19 hours ago

Could Miss His Second Consecutive Game
Kenyon Martin19 hours ago

Jr. Uncertain To Play Against Detroit
Tobias Harris19 hours ago

Could Miss Friday's Game Against Toronto
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander19 hours ago

Upgraded To Questionable On Friday
Al Horford19 hours ago

Uncertain To Suit Up On Friday
Jaylen Brown19 hours ago

Tagged As Questionable With Lower-Back Pain
Jayson Tatum19 hours ago

Listed As Questionable Against Utah
Kelly Olynyk19 hours ago

Is Available Against Boston On Friday
De'Andre Hunter19 hours ago

Downgraded To Out On Friday
Joe Burrow21 hours ago

Bengals Begin Extension Discussions With Joe Burrow
Mac Jones21 hours ago

Bill Belichick Still Non-Committal On Mac Jones
Sammy Blais23 hours ago

Extends Point Streak To Six Games
Cam Talbot23 hours ago

Makes A Winning Return
Matthew Beniers23 hours ago

Logs Two Points Against Anaheim
Stuart Skinner24 hours ago

Grabs A 43-Save Shutout
Tristan Jarry24 hours ago

Records His Second Shutout
Matthew Tkachuk24 hours ago

Rolls To Four Points Versus Montreal
T.J. Oshie24 hours ago

Exits With An Upper-Body Injury
Mikey Anderson1 day ago

Injured On First Shift Thursday
CJ McCollum1 day ago

Drops 23 Points In Easy Win Over Denver
Jamal Murray1 day ago

Salvages Solid Performance In Loss
Brandon Ingram1 day ago

Secures A Triple-Double Against Denver
Jaylen Brown1 day ago

Collects Another 30-Point Game
Jayson Tatum1 day ago

Drops 40 Points In Blowout Win
Naz Reid1 day ago

Set To Miss Significant Amount Of Time
Linus Ullmark1 day ago

Allows One Goal In Overtime Victory
David Pastrnak1 day ago

Scores Game-Winning Goal
Baker Mayfield2 days ago

Kyle Trask To Compete In Training Camp
Courtland Sutton2 days ago

Broncos Could Still Trade Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton
Ryan Lindgren2 days ago

A Game-Time Decision Against New Jersey
Seth Jones2 days ago

Expects To Play Thursday
David Savard2 days ago

A Game-Time Call Thursday
Marvin Jones Jr.3 days ago

Expected To Sign With Lions
Ryan Tannehill3 days ago

Titans Expect Ryan Tannehill To Be Their Starter
Desmond Ridder3 days ago

Falcons Officially Name Desmond Ridder Their Starter
Lamar Jackson3 days ago

Patriots Won't Pursue Lamar Jackson
Brendon Todd3 days ago

Has Success At TPC San Antonio
Ben Martin3 days ago

Has Value At TPC San Antonio
Nick Taylor3 days ago

A Boom-Or-Bust Option At Valero
Taylor Pendrith3 days ago

A Sleeper Option At TPC San Antonio
Chris Kirk3 days ago

A Good Option At The Valero Texas Open
Matt Kuchar3 days ago

Loves Playing TPC San Antonio
Will Gordon3 days ago

Offers A Wild-Card Option At Valero
Cam Davis3 days ago

Can Keep His Current Form At TPC San Antonio
Austin Ekeler4 days ago

Chargers Prefer To Keep Austin Ekeler
Mark Hubbard4 days ago

A Low-Risk Value Option At Valero
Tyler Duncan4 days ago

Start Tyler Duncan At TPC San Antonio
Emiliano Grillo4 days ago

Not Recommended At Valero
Patrick Rodgers4 days ago

Don't Give Patrick Rodgers A Shot At Valero
Adam Schenk4 days ago

Wants To Keep Momentum Rolling At Valero
Ryan Moore4 days ago

Cannot Get Past The Cut Lately
Stephan Jaeger4 days ago

Could Warm Things Up At Valero
Si Woo Kim4 days ago

A Possible Contender At Valero
Taylor Montgomery4 days ago

Attempting To Find Weekend Consistency
Corey Conners4 days ago

Trying To Recreate A Little Magic
Lamar Jackson4 days ago

Texans Not Expected To Pursue Lamar Jackson
Desmond Ridder4 days ago

Preparing To Be Falcons Starter
Thomas Detry4 days ago

Continues To Impress In Rookie Season
Kyler Murray4 days ago

No Timeline For Kyler Murray
Buffalo Bills4 days ago

Von Miller On Schedule In His Recovery
Aaron Rai4 days ago

Brings Positive Momentum To Valero Texas Open
Javonte Williams4 days ago

Making "Great Strides" In Recovery
Akshay Bhatia4 days ago

Looks To Stay Hot In Texas
Matthew Stafford4 days ago

Won't Have Any Limitations
Trey Lance4 days ago

Has A Chance To Regain Starting Job
DJ Chark4 days ago

Undergoes Ankle Surgery
Michael Thomas4 days ago

Making Progress In Recovery
Aaron Rodgers4 days ago

Trade Could Involve Two Second-Round Picks
Irv Smith Jr.4 days ago

Agrees To One-Year Deal With Bengals
Todd Gilliland5 days ago

Impressive At COTA
Ty Gibbs5 days ago

Finds His Footing At COTA
Chris Buescher5 days ago

Continues To Shine On Road Courses
NASCAR5 days ago

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Finishes Seventh
Austin Cindric5 days ago

Has A Solid Day
Marlon Vera5 days ago

Has Four-Fight Winning Streak Snapped
Cory Sandhagen5 days ago

Dominates Striking Department
Yana Santos5 days ago

Dominated In Decision Loss
Holly Holm5 days ago

Dominates In Co-Main Event
Austin Lingo5 days ago

Suffers Submission Loss
Nate Landwehr5 days ago

Shines With Second-Round Submission Win
Andrea Lee5 days ago

Suffers Defeat In Close Matchup Saturday
Maycee Barber5 days ago

Takes Close Matchup On Saturday
Chidi Njokuani5 days ago

Takes Close Loss In Split-Decision Showing
Albert Duraev5 days ago

Holds Off Opponent In Tight Split Decision
William Byron5 days ago

Rounds Out Top Five At COTA
Ross Chastain5 days ago

Caught Up To Fourth At COTA On Sunday
Alex Bowman5 days ago

Brings Home Third Place Finish At COTA
Kyle Busch5 days ago

Scrambles Up To Second At Austin
Tyler Reddick5 days ago

Dominates And Wins At COTA