Every summer, we take a deep dive into the fantasy football average draft position (ADP) of players on each real-life NFL team. We do this so that we can determine which guys are undervalued, overvalued, or valued just right. As we Goldilocks this ADP, our draft board forms based on our opinions of players and where they go in fantasy football drafts. Since drafters draft (mostly) by site algorithms, site algorithms drive ADP on that site. So, we use FantasyPros’ aggregate average draft position data in order to smooth out those edges. To really smooth out the edges, I will use half-PPR average draft position, which you can find here. I waited for the Atlanta Falcons finally traded wide receiver Julio Jones to start the sleeper, breakout, and bust article series, so that I wouldn’t look like a fool for having to rewrite a whole article because of Julio Jones. He’s finally gone, and the Atlanta Falcons have an interesting setup for 2021. Their #1 ball carrier and their #1 pass catcher both left and the Falcons replaced them with a journeyman and a rookie tight end.
While we won’t touch on Mike Davis (RB29, 71 overall) I do like him at his draft price. Instead, we will look at a sleeper, breakout, and bust for the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. And yes, I get to name the same guy for two slots; it’s my article. If you don’t like it, name your own.
Breakout: Russell Gage, Wide Receiver (WR94, 298 OVR)
Gage quietly ended 2020 with 786 yards on 72 catches. He had just four touchdowns, so he never made it to the upper echelon of stream guys. But, he averaged just about 4.5 catches for 50 yards per game, which was extremely solid. He turned I on down the stretch in 2020, throwing an extra catch for eight yards on top of those figures in the last seven games. He also scored three of his four touchdowns in that span, as well.
Gage played just 70% of the team’s snaps, but he had a 15% hog rate (per PlayerProfiler.com). This means that when he was on the field, he saw targets. This comes on the back of a 2019 campaign with just 49% of the team’s snaps and a 16.5% hog rate (top-ten). With Julio Jones moving on, that means more snaps for Gage, which means more targets for Gage. He could, and should, easily surpass the 120 target mark this season, after getting 109 in Julio Jones’ shadow—and part-time snaps—in 2020.
Sleeper: Kyle Pitts, Tight End (TE7, 90 OVR)
Kyle Pitts is the greatest generational tight end prospect since the last time we said this about a generational tight end prospect. I get that it’s hard to take the fantasy football community seriously when just two seasons ago, we absolutely torched your trust by overhyping T.J. Hockenson in his rookie year.
But, Pitts is different. The Atlanta Falcons drafted him higher than any tight end ever, and then they traded their top targeted player of the last half-decade. Clearly, there’s a plan here for Pitts. He’s incredible and has an easy 120 targets ahead of him this season. That would put him in the upper echelons not only of the 2021 fantasy football tight ends but of any fantasy football rookie tight end ever drafted. It’s highly likely we get a tight end-in-name-only season out of Kyle Pitts this year, as he can play all over the field as a traditional wide receiver or as a tight end.
There’s also the issue that tight end is an overwhelmingly boring position. Outside of the top five guys, you have what we have come to call The Blob(tm) here at Football Absurdity. Very few guys going outside of the top-five have a very good shot to end up inside the top-three. Pitts is one of the exceptions. Smash that draft button at his TE7 value and rake in that value all season long.
Bust: Kyle Pitts, Tight End (TE7, 90 OVR)
Remember T.J. Hockenson? How he hurt you? Remember Noah Fant? Evan Engram and Jeremy Shockey are the last two tight ends to finish with double-digit half-PPR fantasy points in half of their games in their rookie year. It’s highly likely that Kyle Pitts joins their ranks, but how far can we push this? No rookie tight end in the fantasy football era has ever had 9+ weeks of double-digit half-PPR fantasy production. Pitts is TE7 by average draft position, but this does not include the Atlanta Falcons moving on from Julio Jones at this point. I did a mock draft with Evan Hoovler on our Twitch Stream yesterday. Kyle Pitts went off the board as the #5 tight end, ahead of T.J Hockenson.
That’s too much, don’t do that. Hockenson established himself as undoubtedly the best offensive weapon on the Detroit Lions and should be the focal point of the Lions’ offense. Last season, with Marvin Jones and (sometimes) Kenny Golladay around Hockenson, received 101 targets, notching at least four in all his games but one. He turned this into four catches for at least 60 yards and/or a touchdown in 12-of-16 games. Pitts could break that, but I wouldn’t place my chips on that over Hockenson. At TE7, however? Smash.