It took about half a season for former Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet to establish himself as a viable offensive threat for Chicago Bears in 2020. He spent most of the first half of the season playing second-fiddle to veteran and future Hall of Famer Jimmy Graham, but expect that to change in year two.
Through the first nine games of 2020, Kmet was targeted a grand total of eight times. Over the last seven games of the season, his usage increased, and he was targeted over five times per game.
Heading into the 2021 campaign, we should see Kmet’s playing time and usage continue to increase, as the Bears slowly groom him into the primary tight end role that Graham had occupied. Granted, Kmet is not yet the elite offensive threat Graham has been throughout his career – and he may never be – but the former Notre Dame standout is a more complete tight end in terms of his blocking skills and versatility.
Kmet is a bit of a throwback to bigger-bodied tight ends of years past, and that’s going to make him a fan favorite in Chicago moving forward. He’s also going to be a favorite of Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who will undoubtedly be looking for a safety net and outlet as he moves around in the pocket and goes through his progressions.
Kmet’s physical presence and ability to get open will be comforting to the younger signal-caller – especially in the red zone. Six of Fields’ 22 touchdown passes at Ohio State in 2020 were caught by tight ends.
From a fantasy standpoint, FantasyPros.com projects Kmet to catch 50 passes for 472 yards and 4 touchdowns during the 2021 campaign. In 2020, 13 tight ends caught 50 or more passes – including Graham – who caught exactly 50.
Additionally, FantasyPros also projects Kmet as high as the No. 10 tight end overall in Dynasty (Keeper) League drafts this season.
Regardless of whether we’re talking real life or fantasy, all signs point to Kmet having a breakthrough 2021 season in one of the nation’s biggest markets, which could lead to the former Irish tight end becoming a household name in NFL-watching homes.
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