Kyle Rudolph: Heavily-Targeted Vikings' TE Is Solid Starting Fantasy Option

Richard LangfordCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 16:  Kyle Rudolph #82 of the Minnesota Vikings scores a touchdown  during the NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

After his two-touchdown performance against the 49ers' defense, Minnesota Vikings' tight end Kyle Rudolph proved he is a reliable option for fantasy owners. 

Rudolph filled up the stat sheet by going for five catches, 36 yards and the two touchdowns. He did so efficiently on six targets, and it was on a week when he was a fantasy afterthought. Players like this aren't supposed to produce against the 49ers. 

Rudolph proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he belongs on the field with the big boys. Check out his spectacular one-hand grab around a defender for a touchdown in the No. 3 catch of the week. 

Rudolph is not going to blow people away for big plays, but he is a sure-handed receiver with the size to beat safeties and the athleticism to beat linebackers. He is also one of quarterback Christian Ponder's favorite targets.

Next to Percy Harvin, Rudolph was the Vikings' most targeted player. That is true not just for the game but for the season. Rudolph is averaging six targets a game. 

All signs point towards the second-year QB continuing to look Rudolph's way often, especially in the red zone. This is where Rudolph's true value comes from.

When they get close to the end zone, Minnesota will look to pound the ball in with Adrian Peterson as a first option, and they will look to Rudolph second. The speedy, but small, Harvin is not a great weapon on a short field.  

The 6'5", 258-pound tight end is this team's best red-zone receiver. Ponder, who has thrown every pass for the Vikings this season, has four touchdown passes on the season, Rudolph has caught three of them. 

His feel for the flow of the game is improving each week, and it is going to lead Rudolph to a double-digit touchdown season. 

The second-year pro is not headed for a 1,000-yard season or any mind-blowing reception numbers, but he will be a consistent performer that should be considered a low-mid starting fantasy tight end in standard leagues.