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'It's Not Fantasy Football': True, But Falcons TE Kyle Pitts Deserves Better

Through two games, Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Pitts hasn't made much of a statistical impact. And yet, his head coach, Arthur Smith, doesn't seem to see the problem.

The Atlanta Falcons made Kyle Pitts the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history, and he instantly proved why, becoming one of just six rookies to make the Pro Bowl and recording the second-most receiving yards among rookie tight ends in league history.

Entering year two, Pitts appeared poised to emerge as one of the top offensive weapons in the league, but through two games, he's mustered just four receptions for 38 yards after a pair of identical two-catch, 19-yard performances.

He's seen just 10 targets across two games, and only had the ball go his way four times in Atlanta's 31-27 loss on Sunday to the Los Angeles Rams. Apart from the two receptions, Pitts also drew a defensive pass interference penalty that netted Atlanta over 30 yards, and nearly made a contested grab in the endzone for his second professional touchdown.

So, why hasn't he been more involved? Why did the Falcons draft him in the top-5 if they didn't plan on featuring him? Is there a plan to get him the ball more consistently?

Falcons coach Arthur Smith has been asked, and his answer didn't necessarily inspire confidence.

“Kyle's a huge part of our offense and you just have to take it with context," Smith said. "It's the same thing - we're trying to win, and he has a huge impact on the game ... It's not fantasy football. We're just trying to win, and we'll continue to look at everything and try to get better.”

Smith shared the same sentiments after last week's game - that Pitts, be it as a decoy or a blocker, made a big impact on the game. And yet, the same questions and the same answers after the same result - a narrow Falcons defeat after an inefficient (50 percent) performance in the red zone where Pitts should be especially impactful.

And therein lies the problem. While it's a definite positive that Pitts has drawn additional attention from defenses and helped foster big games from rookie receiver Drake London, a player of his caliber shouldn't just be a decoy.

Better, a player of his caliber needs to be a focal point each and every week - but Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota hinted that it might just not play out that way.

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“Week in and week out, (Pitts' targets are) going to depend," said Mariota. "There (were) a couple moments where they were doubling him. Just the way that the game flows where he's going to get his targets, he's going to find the ball, the ball will come to him. These first couple weeks, it just hasn't happened that way.”

Pitts is 6-6, 245 pounds and ran a 4.44 40-yard dash coming out of Florida. He's been dubbed a "Unicorn" for a reason: his freakish physical traits paired with proven ball skills and an ability to make jaw-dropping catches.

Considering Pitts' profile, his involvement shouldn't be dependent on "game flow" - he's a special talent with a proven track record of success that's worthy of an inflated target share.

Ultimately, Pitts is selfless; he'll do whatever it takes to win. But if history is any indication, the latter is dependent on his ability to produce.

The 21-year-old Pitts had three games with over 100 receiving yards last season. The Falcons' results from those games: win, win, win.

So yes, it's not fantasy football. The consequences are real - the loss of a game, a tired and disgruntled fanbase and added pressure to reach the win column for the first time.

But if the Falcons truly want to win as Smith implied, giving one of the NFL's most promising young offensive weapons more than three targets is probably a good place to start.

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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