On August 29th the San Francisco 49ers traded veteran tight end Vance McDonald and a 2018 5th round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2018 4th round pick. The trade on the surface isn’t a major one. The 49ers were likely to release McDonald as part of their roster cuts, and the Steelers have been looking for a veteran presence at tight end since Health Miller retired a year ago.
49ers trading TE Vance McDonald and a fifth-round pick to the Steelers for a fourth-round pick, per sources. Steelers upgrade TE.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 29, 2017
While, in reality, this trade isn’t likely to change the season outlook for either team, this trade does provide some fantasy impact for both the new Steeler McDonald and new 49ers starting tight end George Kittle. While the fantasy impact is minimal, the changes could have some impact in either two starting tight end leagues or deep 16 team leagues, so let’s take a look.
Even on a dysfunctional 49ers team, TE Vance McDonald was able to catch more TD's (4) than any Steelers TE in 2016
— Jimmy Norkewicz (@dorkewicz) August 29, 2017
Last season McDonald finished as the TE30, a far cry from being a starting fantasy tight end in any league. However, with a merry-go-round quarterback situation on a poor team in San Francisco, you would expect McDonald to struggle. Now in Pittsburgh, he enters one the most explosive passing offenses in the league. McDonald had 24 catches on 45 targets for 391 yards and four touchdowns in 11 games last season. With an improved quarterback situation and being in the middle of a high powered offense, McDonald should have a better season in 2017.
Now while McDonald is a more valuable fantasy tight end in Pittsburgh than in San Francisco, he is still a low-end TE2. He is currently my TE20 in PPR scoring. Unless you are in a two tight end league or a deep 16+ team league, McDonald shouldn’t be drafted. However, he can be a bye week filler and a solid value in daily fantasy leagues.
McDonald has never finished a season with more than 30 catches or four touchdowns in his four year career, but he can get you a solid seven points per week plus a possible a redzone touchdown. I project McDonald to get about 40 catches on 64 targets for 550 yards and five touchdowns, giving him 125 fantasy points in PPR leagues.
— RotoUnderworld (@rotounderworld) August 29, 2017
Drafted in the fifth round, at pick 146 overall, Kittle is the future at the tight end spot for the 49ers and now is the starter entering the 2017 season. After the trade, Kittle is listed as the starter on the team’s depth chart and according to reports he has been a star in training camp. So far during the preseason, Kittle has been quiet; catching three passes for 33 yards and one touchdown in two games. While at Iowa, Kittle was labeled a “blocking tight end”, yet he has a solid receiving career at Iowa.
RELATED: George Kittle Scouting Report
During his last two seasons at Iowa, Kittle had ten touchdowns despite being on a run first team. Now that Kittle is the starter, he is my TE29 in redraft leagues. However, he could finish the season as a mid TE2 if he gets a high enough of the target share this season. Veteran Pierre Garcon is expected to be the team’s main passing threat, but behind him it’s an open competition for targets. If Kittle can get around 80 targets, he should finish the season around the TE18 area, giving him some value in standard 12 team leagues. However, I wouldn’t draft Kittle in redraft leagues, but he would be on my watch list.
While Kittle’s redraft value isn’t very appealing, his dynasty value should be interesting. Kittle will now contribute as a rookie and should get a boost in any rookie drafts that haven’t happened yet. For start-up dynasty drafts, Kittle should be drafted in all standard size leagues and viewed as a potential TE1 starting as soon as next season.