Kyle Rudolph hype is the perpetual motion machine that powers all fantasy football writers. He had one good season and every year since then has been a hope that he returns to his former glory, and he never does. This all comes on the heels of a completely unsustainable 493-yard, nine-touchdown 2012 season. In the three seasons after that, he had ten total, and fantasy football players keep chasing that purple dragon. The first month of the season had fantasy owners getting back aboard the Rudolph hype train after several years of continually swearing him off in week eight.[embedit snippet=”jeff-ads”]
So far this season, Rudolph leads the Vikings in targets at 7.7 targets per game, but that includes four games of eight or more targets. While his targets are the most on the team, his catch rate is abysmal, at 57.4%, so he doesn’t have the surest hands in the league. He is, however, a massive target in the red zone for Sam Bradford. Bradford needs that large target, given the size of his other receivers and because their running game is suddenly falling off the face of the earth. That opportunity gives him a chance of being a top-ten tight end just based on the opportunity he will receive. After all, the baseline for a TE1 is seven points, which is ten yards and a score. You’re chasing targets and TD opportunity at tight end.
And this week, Rudolph will get opportunities in spades. The Vikings take on the Detroit Lions, who are literally the worst in the NFL against tight ends this season. They’re averaging a tight end score a game this season, and have given up the seven-point threshold for a TE1 seven times already this year (eight if you give a generous rounding to Richard Rodgers’ just nice 6.9 fantasy points). They’re awful against the position and are ripe to be victimized by the Vikings and their Kyle Rudolph focused passing game.
Kyle Rudolph, like the clear majority of tight ends, is not worth using on a week-to-week basis, despite his target volume. He has a low catch rate, which offsets the volume he will get in negative matchups. Luckily for Rudolph owners, he is in a positive matchup. The matchup also precludes the use of the wide receivers, funneling targets towards Rudolph. He is a shoo-in for top-ten tight end production, and given the loss of Reed, Gronk, and Eifert, has a chance at the number one spot this week. Despite his recent woes, he’s worth starting in nearly every situation this week.