Will Kyle Rudolph Be The Breakout Tight End Of 2014?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There’s no questioning the ability when it comes to Kyle Rudolph, who has scored 15 TD in three seasons in the NFL. The big question is always going to be if he can stay on the field, and that is something that we have to keep in mind.

He missed time last season due to a broken foot, being limited to 8 games. However, could that injury have actually been a blessing in disguise? According to Phil Ervin of Fox Sports North (click here for the article):

“It’s the result of dieting his way to a 15-pound decrease this summer, an effort borne from rehabbing from a broken foot and amplified when Turner asked him to slim down and get ready to catch more passes.”

Now listed at 260 lbs., down from 275, you have to wonder how his production will be impacted. Remember, in his sophomore season (the one year he’s played all 16 games), he had 53 receptions for 493 yards and 9 TD. That was before Norv Turner joined Minnesota.

As ESPN points out (click here for the article) there’s no surprise that the tight end is going to be an important role in Turner’s offense:

“Rudolph spent his offseason watching film of tight ends in Turner’s offenses, from the Cleveland Browns’ Jordan Cameron all the way back to the Dallas Cowboys’ Jay Novacek, and slimmed down in an effort to speed up. He knew what kind of a role could be waiting for him with Turner as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator, and he wanted to put himself into position to seize it.”

Turner showed off that speed with a 51 yard gain in the team’s second preseason game, finishing with 4 catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. The real question is, just how high is his ceiling?

Quarterback play could be an issue, with Matt Cassel, Christian Ponder and rookie Teddy Birdgewater all potentially seeing time. None of those names are going to excite you much, are they?

You also have Adrian Peterson, who is going to be the centerpiece of the offense, along with sophomore standout Cordarrelle Patterson and veteran Greg Jennings in the mix. That’s not to say that Rudolph isn’t going to be an important part of the offense, as was recently displayed, just don’t go pushing him into the Top 5.

It’s possible that he finishes the year as a Top 10 option, but it’s also hard to anticipate him being that much more productive than that second season (likely with fewer TD). That means he should be considered more of a low-end TE1, but much better suited as a high-end TE2 with significant upside.

He’s currently the tenth tight end coming off the board, with an ADP of 93.4. That’s a reasonable spot for him, though I’d still prefer Zach Ertz, who’s going nearly 30 picks later (120.4). The cost certainly is t prohibitive, though, and the upside is there.

If you prefer Rudoplh to Ertz, then feel free to draft him there. Personally, I’d wait another round and grab Ertz.

Sources – Fox Sports North, ESPN, Fantasy Pros

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Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings:

Quick Hit: Why The Panthers' Jonathan Stewart Is Worth A Late Round Flier
Two Running Backs Most Likely To Emerge As Top 10 Option By Year's End

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