Player Analysis: Kyle Rudolph
By: Nic Brown (Twitter: @nicosaurus31)
When filling your TE slot on your fantasy teams this year the big 5 (Gronk/Reed/Kelce/Olsen/Graham) get the majority of the hype, but there’s another name knockin at the door: Kyle Rudolph. Currently rated below the likes of Delanie Walker, Zach Ertz, Cameron Brate, and even Eric Ebron, Rudolph is an absolute STEAL if leagues draft according to those rankings.
He finished 2016 tied for 3rd in points (120.0 in standard, full PPR scoring), one point behind Olsen and only 13 behind Mr. Kelce. His receptions (83 – 3rd in NFL), yards (840 – 4th),
and touchdowns (7 – 3rd) put him shoulder to shoulder with the big boys.
If you’re looking on the surface at the team he plays for and the awful offense they put on the field, you’re missing the deep dive into what makes Rudolph so valuable at the TE position: he really doesn’t have much for competition.
You could give some credit for his big year to learning from Norv Turner, the man largely responsible for Antonio Gates’ development, but I’m going to raise a glass to the ineptitude of the rest of Minnesota’s offense. A garbage offensive line, no running game, and a quarterback that had 0.5 seconds to read/react led to maaany targets for Rudolph. In 2015, he had 49 catches on 71 targets. In 2016, it jumped to 83 catches on 132 targets. You might argue that only 83 catches on that many targets isn’t encouraging but by comparison, Greg Olsen had 80 catches on 127 targets.
During the 2nd half of the season, including your precious fantasy playoff run, Rudolph was top 2 at the tight end position in terms of targets (75), catches (51), and yards (517).
The best part of his future is that Minnesota has done very little to change the status quo. They signed a couple bodies for the offensive line and a new running back, but they lost 2 wide receivers and will need Rudolph to continue to be a focal point of the offense.
In Redraft leagues, if you can grab him in the 7th or 8th round and get similar value of a player going 4 or 5 rounds higher, that’s a win.
In Dynasty leagues, he’s definitely worth a look in the middle rounds. Most likely his owner will have realized how good he can be – but it can’t hurt to shoot low and hope they bite.