Disclaimer: Before I dive in to this, and seem like I’m trashing on Ertz, I just want to preface that I’d be ecstatic to have Ertz on my team. You’ve heard the saying “the lesser of two evils”, right? Well, this Ertz vs Kittle situation is more to the tone of “the greater of two greats”.
Securing one of the top 3 Tight Ends in your 2019 Fantasy Football Draft is crucial for succeeding in your league this year. Kelce, Kittle, and Ertz are all phenomenal players and are an unquestionable advantage to possess. These giants outscore the other TEs in Fantasy Points by a wide margin, making it an absolute positional advantage in the required TE roster spot, which looks to be a baron wasteland outside these three guys. If you aren’t fortunate enough to grab Kelce in the early-mid 2nd round don’t be upset, as Kittle and Ertz will be left waiting for you to draft them at the start of the 3rd round! But what if you’re on the clock and both are an option for you to choose from? Who do you draft? ADP will say to pick Ertz, however I believe Kittle will outscore him, thus making Kittle the better draftee in 2019.
Simply put, the reason many casuals and experts rank Ertz over Kittle this year is the fact he outscored Kittle last year by a meager 7.6 half-PPR points. It’s easy to think history will repeat itself because “it’s happened before”, however looking at the facts, projected regression in store for Ertz in a big way this year.
Last year, Ertz scored 22.3 half-PPR points, which was good enough to finish as the TE 2. Ertz’s 156 targets in the 2018 season actually finished as the most targets for a TE in NFL history. This stat should ensure safety for him, right? Well, that clear path may get a little foggy when you look at what has changed for the Eagle’s offense comparing last year to the upcoming 2019 season. For offensive roster additions, the Eagles added Desean Jackson, along with two rookies Miles sanders and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Jackson is the clear outside WR starter in Philly. He is a speed demon with sure hands, one in which the Eagles haven’t had since…well…Desean Jackson back in 2013. Jackson will surely require 5-8 targets a game, obviously taking away from Ertz’s target share from 2018. Speaking of targets going elsewhere, rookies Whiteside and Sanders will surely play a role in that as well. Admittedly, rookies usually aren’t target hogs, and I project that fact to hold true here as well. However, Whiteside does offer a big Redzone presence that may see an all important redzone target or two a game go his way instead of Ertz’s. Alshon Jeffery, Philly’s WR 1 was absent from weeks 1-3 last year. Ertz averaged 11 targets per game in that stretch, and in the 13 remaining games Alshon played, Ertz averaged 9.4 targets a game. That is an incredibly high targets per game for anyone, let alone a tight end. However, with Jeffery back Ertz averages 1.6 less targets per game, which is absolutely worth noting. Also worth noting is second year TE Dallas Goedert’s impressive end of season stretch last year. The Eagles are going to be running a lot of 2 TE sets this year, further becoming a detriment to Ertz’s target volume. All this being said, Ertz is still the absolute #1 target in the Philadelphia Eagles’s offense. However with all the aforementioned projections, I’m not convinced his volume in 2019 will constitute as high of a ceiling he had last year.
George Kittle started the 2018 season red hot, and only finished hotter. A true breakout star, Kittle is the epitome of a mismatch for small Corners and slow Linebackers who are unlucky enough to have the task of guarding him. Too big for small Corners to body, too fast for Linebackers to catch, and the route running of a true technician, Kittle is the modern day TE all coaches want. Last year, Kittle finished with 88 receptions, an NFL record breaking 1,377 yards, and a surprisingly low 5 Touchdowns. This was good enough for 214.7 fantasy points and a finish as the TE 3 last year. Fun fact, his 214.7 fantasy points would’ve ranked him as the WR 11, between Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen. That’s a WR 1 you get to put in your TE slot! (Ertz would’ve finished last year as the WR 10). What makes this feat even more impressive is Kittle accomplished this with a meager 5 touchdowns on the year. That may seem awful, which it honestly is. However, the fact that he scored that many fantasy points with what I believe is his floor in touchdowns, only points to positive regression in that department. Thus Kittle will score a plethora more fantasy points next season on positive touchdown regression alone. Touchdowns are the toughest stat to project for a player, as they can be volatile, changing from year to year with inconsistency. That’s why it’s always smart to rank players based on previous season Yardage and receptions, as these stats are easier to repeat and predict. This is why players like Julio Jones and Ezekiel Elliot always are projected, and finish as top tier. Not based on touchdowns, but their overall yardage and usage. Did I mention Kittle broke the single season yardage for a TE last year? *winky face* What is more impressive about Kittle, is he managed to put this historic season together while playing with San Francisco’s QB 2 and QB3 a majority of the season, as starter Jimmy G was injured during week 3. This ensures Kittle is QB proof, and no matter whom is throwing the ball, Kittle will perform as an Elite TE. Ertz’s QB Carson Wentz is injury prone himself, thus thrusting Nick Foles in to action the past two years. However, the former Super Bowl MVP is now a Jacksonville Jaguar, and If wentz gets hurt again QB Cody Kessler will take the reigns. Ertz has never had production outside of Wentz and Foles, so it’s hard to just say he will absolutely remain an elite Fantasy TE if Wentz is to get hurt…again. This fact tells me that Kittle not only has the higher upside, but is also safer, because he has PROVEN to be elite with 3 different QBs. You can’t predict injury, however you absolutely need to plan for it. Especially when the QB throwing the ball has injury history and an unproven QB, with no track record of throwing to Ertz, will step in to the starting job.
All in all, if you are on the clock staring down Kittle and Ertz, there really is no WRONG answer on whom to draft. Both are truly elite at their position and will undoubtedly be the #1 target on their teams. However, with the facts provided above, I’m truly adamant that Kittle has both the higher ceiling and floor for the 2019 NFL Fantasy season. Good luck drafting, and remember to grab a TE early!