Game-By-Game Projections: George Kittle (2020 Fantasy Football)
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George Kittle missed two games because of injury last year, but that is legitimately the only negative thing to note about his season. Even ignoring his elite skill as a blocker (which is relevant to the 49ers’ run game but not to his fantasy stock), Kittle excelled in the passing game. He led all receivers – not just tight ends, but also wide receivers – in yards after the catch and missed tackles forced. He also led the league in yards per route run, breaking Julio Jones’ four-year streak of leading the league in that category.
In other words, Kittle put up one of the great seasons of all time for a tight end. Entering his age-27 season, with an identical (and elite) offensive system and with nearly the same personnel, Kittle should again put up a top-two fantasy season as a tight end, absent injury.
Here’s a game-by-game breakdown of how things could play out for Kittle this season.
Note: Fantasy scoring based on FantasyPros standard scoring methodology found here.
Week 1: v. Cardinals
Kittle got the gift of facing the Cardinals just once in 2019 because of knee and ankle injuries. He suffered those injuries in his first matchup against Arizona but played through them to the tune of a 6-78-1 line. That game was hardly a disappointment, but there could have been so much more, as the Cardinals allowed 41.5% MORE fantasy points to the tight end position as compared to the next worst team. There’s little reason to expect significant improvement, which means a monster game for Kittle to open the season.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 receptions, 118 yards, 1 receiving TDs
Week 2: at Jets
The Jets may have had all sorts of problems on offense last year, but they were stout on defense against tight ends, allowing just three touchdowns and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to the position. They should be equally up to the task this year, which means Kittle won’t have a huge day in a game the 49ers should win easily.
Predicted Stat Line: 5 receptions, 54 yards, 0 receiving TD
Week 3: at Giants
The Giants should be pretty frisky on offense if they can stay healthy, and the 49ers will be on the road for the second straight week (albeit in New Jersey for both games). The Giants were a bottom 10-defense against tight ends last year and allowed eight touchdowns to the position (fifth-most in the league). Needing some points, and against a defense that struggles to stop tight ends, Kittle should find plenty of room to do work.
Predicted Stat Line: 6 receptions, 78 yards, 1 receiving TD
Week 4: vs. Eagles
The Eagles defense ranked sixth in the league in fewest yards, receptions, and fantasy points allowed to tight ends last year, and they’ve made improvements on their defense. Still, on Sunday Night Football in San Francisco, it will be impossible to slow down Kittle entirely. It may not be his best game of the season, but there’s no doubt that Kittle will produce, as usual.
Predicted Stat Line: 5 receptions, 71 yards, 0 receiving TDs
Week 5: vs. Dolphins
The Dolphins have made significant improvements to their passing defense and were decent against tight ends last year, though they rarely faced significant competition. It’s a cross-country trip for Miami, however, so expecting them to stop a player like Kittle is asking too much. As he almost always will, Kittle will find ways to produce.
Predicted Stat Line: 6 receptions, 85 yards, 0 receiving TDs
Week 6: vs. Rams
In two games against the Rams last year, Kittle caught 13 of 16 targets for 182 yards and a touchdown. There’s little reason to expect a home matchup on Sunday Night Football to turn out differently. Kittle has a big game on a national stage against a division rival.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 receptions, 98 yards, 0 receiving TDs
Week 7: at Patriots
Although the Patriots were experts at limiting wide receivers last season, they were well above-average against tight ends, allowing just 64 receptions (fifth-fewest) and 688 receiving yards (seventh-fewest). And, of course, the old adage that Bill Belichick tries to take away his opponents’ best weapon will hold true here. With Kittle earning that title, he’ll have trouble producing here.
Predicted Stat Line: 3 receptions, 31 yards, 0 receiving TDs
Week 8: at Seahawks
Kittle was only able to play in one game against Seattle last year (seven catches, 86 yards), and it was a shame. The Seahawks weren’t quite as futile against tight ends as are the Cardinals, but they allowed the third-most fantasy points and the second-most receptions and receiving yards to the position. They did nothing this offseason to suggest that they’ll be any more effective against tight ends this year. In a critical divisional matchup, expect Kittle to have a huge game.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 receptions, 111 yards, 1 receiving TD
Week 9: vs. Packers
Kittle played the Packers twice in 2019, putting up a 6-129-1 line in the regular season and a 1-19 line in the playoffs. Both games were easy wins for the 49ers. At home in a Thursday Night Football matchup, with the Packers doing little to improve their roster this offseason, there’s every reason to expect an easy San Francisco victory. Although Kittle shone under similar circumstances in the regular season last year, the 49ers will opt to protect him a bit here and rely more on their ground game, against which Green Bay is susceptible.
Predicted Stat Line: 4 receptions, 49 yards, 0 receiving TDs
Week 10: at Saints
The Saints were one of the better defenses against opposing tight ends last year, though Kittle did put up a 6-67-1 line against them in a shootout. Absent an overly positive-game script or a top-tier defense against tight ends, Kittle is going to put up numbers regardless of the opponent. In a game that should be high-scoring, he should again do so here.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 receptions, 89 yards, 0 receiving TDs
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: at Rams
It’s deja vu for Kittle against the Rams, as Los Angeles continues to have no answer for the big tight end. Coming off a bye and with a division title in its sights, San Francisco will be clicking on all cylinders. That, of course, includes featuring Kittle.
Predicted Stat Line: 6 receptions, 85 yards, 0 receiving TDs
Week 13: vs. Bills
On Monday Night Football with the Bills looking to fully establish themselves as a powerhouse in the league, both teams should put on a show on defense. The Bills allowed the second-fewest yards and third-fewest receptions and fantasy points to opposing tight ends last year and should be equally up to the task in 2020. It should be a rare off game for Kittle against an outstanding defense against tight ends and in a defensive struggle.
Predicted Stat Line: 3 receptions, 34 yards, 0 receiving TDs
Week 14: vs. Redskins
Kittle did little against the Redskins last year but the game was played in a torrential downpour and Jimmy Garoppolo threw for just 151 yards. Expect a different story in this game against a team that allowed nine touchdowns and the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends last year. The game won’t be competitive, but Kittle will find the end zone.
Predicted Stat Line: 7 receptions, 62 yards, 1 receiving TD
Week 15: at Cowboys
In a huge Sunday Night Football matchup, both teams should be able to move the ball and put up points. The Cowboys were the only team to allow more than 100 receptions to opposing tight ends last year and one of only three to allow more than 1,000 yards receiving to the position. They should be equally sub-par this season against tight ends, leading to a big game for Kittle.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 receptions, 108 yards, 1 receiving TD
Week 16: at Cardinals
With a division crown in sight, the 49ers will put on a show in their penultimate regular-season game of the 2020 season. Facing the worst defense in the league against tight ends, Kittle will find the end zone for the third straight game, ending his fantasy playoffs in style.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 receptions, 72 yards, 1 receiving TD
Week 17: vs. Seahawks
Unlike last year’s final game that decided the division, the 49ers will have things wrapped up in a bow by this time. That means there’s no reason to push any of their big names, including Kittle, who gets some work early but then gets to take a breather as the team prepares for the playoffs.
Predicted Stat Line: 4 receptions, 50 yards, 0 receiving TDs
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2019 stats: 85 receptions, 1,053 receiving yards, 5 receiving TD
2020 prediction: 96 receptions,1195 receiving yards, 6 receiving TD
Kittle is one of the few players in the NFL about whom fantasy managers should have zero concerns. If healthy, he’s a lock to be top-two at his position and offers a major edge to his drafters. It should be another star season for a player just entering his prime.