Will Kyle Rudolph Become an Elite Fantasy Football Tight End in 2013?

Ryan LesterSenior Writer IMay 14, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 05:  Tight end Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings runs after a catch against cornerback Sam Shields #37 of the Green Bay Packers in the first half during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 5, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Obviously, a brilliant Pro Bowl appearance is not a good measure of future success, but Kyle Rudolph's five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown en route to the MVP honors gave a glimpse into his potential.

There were times during the season when Rudolph flashed that same brilliance, particularly when he scored five touchdowns in the first six games. 

After 25 receptions on 41 targets during that stretch, Rudolph basically went into the Witness Protection Program. He was nowhere to be seen in the next three games, catching just two passes on two targets for 17 yards.

Just when fantasy football players began to jump ship, he scored in each of his next three games, averaging 56.7 yards along the way. Clearly he was back.

Week 12 proved to be a trap, as Rudolph wasn't even targeted for the third time in seven games. Percy Harvin didn’t even play in the game against the Chicago Bears—Micheal Jenkins led the Vikings in targets that day.

Rudolph scored one more touchdown over the final three games but averaged just 27 yards.

Rudolph finished the season with 53 catches for 493 yards and nine touchdowns. Clearly, Rudolph has it going on in the red zone, but he was nowhere in the neighborhood of elite tight ends when it comes to receiving yards.

There is reason to believe that he can make the leap.

The Vikings brought in Greg Jennings. Not only should he help quarterback Christian Ponder’s development, but he should stretch the field, giving Rudolph more room to work in the middle.

As good as Harvin was for the Vikings, Jennings is best in the same space that Rudolph tends to work in.

Rudolph’s success is tied to Ponder, which is a bit scary, but as the fifth or six tight end coming off the board in most fantasy drafts, he should be a solid value pick.

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