Despite playing the game with a calf injury, Kittle played 92% of the snaps while seeing a season-high 11 targets. Unfortunately, he tied his season low with 4 receptions and his 2nd lowest yardage total of the season. It was mostly a number of missed connections between Kittle and both Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, but it also seemed as if the calf injury may have had a role in him not getting his typical separation from defenders.
Kittle is arguably the most talented TE in the league, but his elite blocking skills frequently keep him from being a massive factor in the passing game, especially since the team has capable WRs they can go to. Kittle should still have the occasional eruption game, but it’s also likely that he’ll have many middling performances, which may keep him from earning his lofty draft-day investment. Regardless, his weekly floor at least helps fantasy managers from avoiding the near-zero performances that many TEs produce.
Kittle has been a safety net for his QBs since he entered the league, and Sunday night was no different. Kittle saw 9 targets against Green Bay for a 22.5% target share.
Garoppolo looked for Kittle throughout the game on screens, intermediate routes, deep balls and even a carry he took for 9 yards. Kittle finished the game with 7 catches for 92 yards, including a 39-yard catch-and-run.
Kittle gets a nice matchup against a Seattle secondary that just surrendered 70 yards and a TD to Tyler Conklin.
We have San Francisco TEs with the 3rd easiest strength of schedule for the rest of season.
You already got the bad news on Kittle when you checked your Week 2 fantasy scores. So let’s start with something positive: A week after running routes on just 57.1% of San Francisco dropbacks, Kittle led the team at 88.2% vs. Philly.
Of course, he garnered just 4 targets among Jimmy Garoppolo’s 30 attempts, catching them all for a meager 17 yards. Blame an embarrassing average target depth of minus-2 yards.
That number stood at 5.6 in Week 1. And Kittle’s lowest full-season ADOT so far has been 5.9. So we’ll hope this was a blip. Jimmy Garoppolo’s overall ADOT was also down vs. Week 1, coming up shortest in the league for Week 2.
If you have Kittle, don’t quit on him just yet. Look for more routes to become more targets and for screen passes to make up a much lower percentage of his opportunities.
Next comes a matchup with Green Bay, which has allowed 3 TE scores through 2 games.
With the 49ers rolling out to a big lead and controlling this game until the Lions made a wild 4th quarter comeback, Kittle was targeted just 5 times as Jimmy Garoppolo was only needed to throw the ball 25 times. Although his 20% target share was solid, and he was easily the 2nd most-targeted 49er, it was Deebo Samuel who was on fire, leading to the WR dominating with 12 targets at the expense of Kittle.
As always, it’s not a matter of talent with Kittle, it’s both a matter of opportunity and elite blocking ability that keep him from performing as well as Travis Kelce each week. In games like this week’s, he was having a blast blocking and annihilating Detroit defenders, and there will be other week’s where Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are featured. Of course there will be huge weeks for Kittle, and he’ll be a top-end fantasy TE, but there’ll be peaks and valleys.