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Kyle Rudolph has long been an inexplicably sought after tight end in many fantasy football circles. Year after year, we chased his 2012 season to no avail. The Purple Dragon is on the verge of finally fulfilling those expectations, as he’s a shoo-in to have his biggest yardage total ever and he has an outside shot of surpassing his 2012 touchdown total with five scores through nine games. This weekend, however, he takes on the Arizona Cardinals, and it may be a rough go of it if you are counting on getting Rudolph into your lineups.
The Minnesota Vikings have been on a massive skid lately. Since starting 5-0 and averaging 23.8 points per game in their first five games, the Vikings are going for nearly ten fewer points per game, averaging an even 14 in their four game slide. Rudolph hasn’t been immune to that decline. During the Vikings’ win streak to start the season, he averaged 47.2 yards per game and scored in three-of-five games. During the skid, Rudolph has gone for just 39 yards per game and has scored in two-of-four games. Granted, that figure should be taken with a grain of salt: his sole catch in week nine was a three-yard touchdown score. Without that, you’re looking at under 39 yards per game and one score over four games.
This week Rudolph takes on literally the best tight end defense in the NFL this season. They have absolutely dominated opposing TEs, allowing just 2.73 points per game to tight ends this season. Sometimes this can be a mirage, given the inconsistent tight end usage across the league. However, the Cardinals have done it against multiple top-fifteen tight ends this season (Martellus Bennett, Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen). They’ve also crushed matchup-based tight end plays like Cameron Brate and Vance McDonald. The high-water mark for the season is Jimmy Graham’s 53 yards in week seven, and no tight end has scored against the Cardinals this year.
Kyle Rudolph was useful to start the season, but he has quickly descended back into the morass of interchangeable tight ends. He’s been on a skid lately that mirrors the decline of the Vikings offense. This weekend he takes on a foe too formidable for him to overcome. Rudolph isn’t a bet I would want to make this weekend, and you could likely find at least half a dozen tight ends on your waiver wire that you should start over Rudolph this week.