Kyle Rudolph found himself as the No. 1 option in the Minnesota Vikings passing game with the injury to Percy Harvin in Week 9. With the trade rumors swirling around Harvin’s possible move out of Minnesota, Rudolph’s status as Christian Ponder’s top option could be extended into the 2013 fantasy football season.
That would probably be bad for his fantasy stock.
Rudolph finished the 2012 season as a top-10 tight end in ESPN standard scoring, which is more an indictment of the position than an endorsement of his statistics. He finished as the ninth-best tight end with 99 fantasy points in standard leagues, which is the same total as Harvin: the 40th-ranked wide receiver.
On 93 targets, the second-year tight end caught 53 passes for 493 yards and nine touchdowns in 16 games. The receiving scores led his team by far—Harvin finished in second place with three—but his catches and yardage trailed the Vikings all-purpose playmaker.
Harvin recorded 62 receptions for 677 yards in nine games.
Rudolph went un-targeted in three games last year. Harvin played Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals, was hurt Week 9 against the Seattle Seahawks and missed Week 14 against the Chicago Bears. Those three zeroes—which, along with a two-catch, eight-yard performance in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions combine for four goose eggs—are enough to discourage fantasy football owners from looking Rudolph’s way for production.
How high will Kyle Rudolph finish among fantasy tight ends in 2013?
Aside from the zeroes, Rudolph averaged 3.9 catches for 34.6 yards and 0.71 touchdowns per game with Harvin in the lineup. Without him, he averaged 4.1 grabs for 41.9 yards and 0.57 TDs.
Harvin’s absence wouldn’t help matters; Rudolph’s best two games came with his teammate on the field. He totaled 36 yards and two TDs against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3 and added a two-point conversion to his 56 yards and a touchdown on six catches against the Washington Redskins in Week 6.
Rudolph’s best three games without Harvin were also his first three games without him: He scored a touchdown in each appearance from Week 10 to Week 13, totaling 18 grabs for 170 yards and three scores. In the five games since (including the playoffs), he amassed just 11 receptions for 123 yards and a single trip to the end zone.
That translates to an average game of 2.2 catches, 24.6 yards and 0.2 TDs. That's not something you’d like to see from a No. 1 fantasy tight end.
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