So the story goes, when I started my top 20 tight end rankings for 2012 fantasy football, I decided ‘I’ll write about a few guys that weren’t in the top 20 but deserved some words’. Looking back, instead of defending my lack of love for Kellen Winslow or Martellus Bennett, I wish I’d spent a few moments with the youngster set to be the starting tight end in Minnesota – Kyle Rudolph.
In review of his 2011 rookie season, there isn’t too much to glean from it to say he’s fantasy sleeper material: 26 receptions, 249 yards and 3 touchdowns from his 39 targets. But, to quote a valley girl, ‘that was, like, soooo last season…gag me!’ Seeing as it was Kyle’s rookie year and he was still playing behind Visanthe Shiancoe, we’re going to look at how Minnesota treated their Tight Ends as a whole…there’s a joke about holes and tight ends in that last sentence but I’ll leave it up to your sick imagination to fill in the gap. But I digress, with their magical powers combined, Minnesota produced 62 receptions on 109 targets as well as 658 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Those type of numbers would’ve had a tight end that was sniffing around the outside of the top 10 last year if it had come from one Viking rather than the two. The good news for Kyle is he’s being given the opportunity to be that TE1 as they aren’t in pursuit of of free agent Visanthe, who as of this writing is still entertaining an offer to be tight end depth for the New England Patriots or perhaps the Eagles.
Another important thing to note about Kyle was his status going into the 2011 draft. Though he was considered the top tight end of the 2011 class, he missed combines due to a torn hamstring that derailed his junior year at Notre Dame and only gave a 4.82 40 when he was healthy enough to run and show off for scouts. He was a high end player with an injury that can take a while to heal. Well, I’m sure Minnesota will be laughing all the way to the end zone in 2012 as Kyle is finally getting up to top speed again, according to reports.
Alright, I know you’re out there so let me have it, you Negative Nellies. But Minnesota signed John Carlson over the off-season. Will Kyle even be given a shot to produce? I hear and understand your fear, NN, but through the magic that is the internet, I have learned that Carlson is to be used as the in line tight end while they’re going to send Rudolph out as the move tight end. But what does that mean?!? Seriously, NN, you should brush up on your football knowledge if you’re going to play this silly little game. What this all means is Kyle is going to be put out there in passing situations and be in motion to look for mismatches. At 6’6″ and nearly 260 pounds, let me tell you, he won’t have to look very far to find that.
Hrm, so who does Kyle remind you of? Let’s see, a tight end who should run about a 4.7 4o who’s around 6’6″ and about 260 pounds…yeah, I’m not stretching things and making that comparison but you know we’re talking about the Gronk. Though I do expect Christian Ponder to show improvement, he’s no Tom Brady so any comparisons of that nature are gonna have to come from some site that only gets hate traffic for being insane. I like to think we get love traffic for being inane, instead. Overall, I make this reference that’s not a reference because some of you play in dynasty leagues and for a guy who went into the 2011 draft considered to be the top tight end from his rookie class, Kyle is getting glossed over everywhere and not just with me. He’s averaging out to be the 20th tight end off the board in yahoo leagues, going at pick 155 while over at ESPN he’s getting treated as the 21st tight end but is all the way down at pick 205. In both situations, there is value to be had here for deeper leagues and perhaps even dynasty leagues. My numbers for Kyle will be cautious but Rudolph with his future so bright, might just drive your fantasy team tonight. See you thought you’d get to leave without a Rudolph pun but you didn’t.
2012 Projections: 50 receptions, 600 yards, 5 touchdowns
Before we leave off, I wanted to remind everyone that our 2012 Razzball Football Commenter Leagues opened up today. If you’d like to win some sweet swag, I strongly encourage you go back to that link and either join an already open league or request to commish one. As of this typing, the first 4 leagues were filled up so we’re now looking for more commishes. Any and all are welcome, we don’t discriminate…well, we do hate people who still use dial-up. I know you like the sound when it connects but live in the now! Oh and come join our leagues once your Netscape loads 10 minutes later. Hope to see you hop on board our RCLs!