TE Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
HT: 6-6, WT: 259, Born: 11-9-1989, College: Notre Dame, Drafted: Round 2
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Average draft position
Current as of May 21st. [Full ADP list]Overall: M Leshoure (87), D Jackson (88), Kyle Rudolph (89), M Ingram (90), S Vereen (91)
Position: V Davis (78-TE6), D Pitta (85-TE7), Kyle Rudolph (89 - TE8), G Olsen (100-TE9), A Gates (103-TE10)
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PPR Average draft position
Current as of May 21st. [Full PPR ADP list]Overall: C Shorts (76), J Maclin (77), Kyle Rudolph (78), M Leshoure (79), M Austin (80)
Position: V Davis (73-TE5), D Pitta (74-TE6), Kyle Rudolph (78 - TE7), O Daniels (90-TE8), T Gonzalez (93-TE9)
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Even with the upgraded wide receiving corps, Rudolph is still that short and medium yardage threat. With Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson keeping defensive backs off the line of scrimmage, Rudolph will be creating serious miss-matches over the middle of the field and in the short flats. He won't average much more than 10 yards per reception, but his red zone catches will make him a solid fantasy threat.
With Adrian Peterson carrying the offense, and upgraded receiving corps, Rudolph could be the odd man out when it comes to catching the ball. He won't be completely shut out of the offense, but with only one or two catches a game, Rudolph will struggle to keep his game on track. If he falls back into the 25-30 reception range again this year, he's going to be a huge disappointment from a fantasy prospective.
Rudolph emerged as a legitimate NFL and fantasy tight end last season, posting almost 500 yards receiving and nine receiving touchdowns. Even more impressive was the fact that the Vikings only had 18 passing TDS as a team. Rudolph was the safety blanket that Christian Ponder looked to when he needed a big play, especially after Percy Harvin was lost for the season. Rudolph worked the flats and the sidelines like a ten-year pro, and showed nice soft hands when it counted the most - in the end zone.
|1||at Detroit Lions|
|2||at Chicago Bears|
|7||at New York Giants|
|8||Green Bay Packers|
|9||at Dallas Cowboys|
|11||at Seattle Seahawks|
|12||at Green Bay Packers|
|14||at Baltimore Ravens|
|16||at Cincinnati Bengals|
2012 Game Summaries
Week 1 - There has been some buzz about Rudolph this off-season, especially about the chemistry he and Christian Ponder have been working to build. Ponder looked for all day-he threw to him short (which Rudolph was able to turn into a long gain), he threw to him deep (which set up a field goal) and Rudolph did a great job of using his size, speed and hands to overcome coverage. It’s too early to be definitive but it looks as though Rudolph is on his way to being a big factor in this offense going forward.
Week 2 - Kyle Rudolph had a slightly quieter Sunday than the previous week, though he still contributed quite a bit and scored a touchdown at that pulled the Vikings to within one score of tying. On the play, Rudolph ran a very short route, paused and turned at the one which froze the defender covering him. The Rudolph stepped to his left where Ponder threw a ball away from the defender and Rudolph caught, before turning up into the end zone for a score. Rudolph continues to be heavily involved in the passing game and has proved to be a very reliable target.
Week 3 - The chemistry developing between Ponder and Rudolph is striking, as the tight end was targeted 4 times on the opening drive and caught each one. His fourth reception on the opening drive was for a touchdown, as Rudolph was able to beat Aldon Smith to the corner of the end zone and catch an accurately thrown ball. On the second touchdown reception, Rudolph hadn’t turned before the ball was thrown. Tightly covered, Rudolph was able to turn around and bring the ball to his body with one hand due to the placement of the pass on the defender’s side. The timing and execution of the play showed just how far the second year tight end has come in both Ponder’s trust and his development. Rudolph’s final tally was 5 receptions on 6 targets, for 36 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Week 4 - After a huge couple of games, Rudolph came crashing back down to earth. He was completely ignored until the third quarter when he finally was thrown to twice for completions, though neither big and neither in the red zone, much less anywhere near the end zone. On the bright side, he was frequently targeted in the fourth quarter , though the intense coverage kept him from hauling in any of his late targets. He is going to get more attention and so far he is having an issue with it. He and the offense will have to make some adjustments going forward but those late targets are a good sign that Ponder still trusts him when it counts.
Week 5 - Rudolph was primarily targeted as an outlet and had three short catches during the game as the Vikings did an excellent job sustaining drives. However, in the fourth quarter he made a difficult catch in double-coverage for a 15 yard touchdown. Rudolph spent much of the day in-line as a blocker as the Vikings rushed for 175 yards against the overwhelmed Tennessee defense. When he did run a route, it was often a quick out or slant to give quarterback Christian Ponder a short outlet option should he come under duress. Had the Titans pass-rush been more effective Rudolph would have likely seen more targets.
Week 6 - Christian Ponder continues to look for his tight end with great frequency, second only to Percy Harvin in the targeting pecking order. While Rudolph will occasionally drop a ball or two, he has vastly improved both his ability to catch and his route running—though his run and pass blocking is still a little shaky. Most of his targets came in the last quarter, including a reception for a two point conversion and a one yard touchdown. On the touchdown, Rudolph was lined up on the left edge of the offensive line. He engaged in a block, but quickly released the defender and ran for the back corner of the end zone. Nobody followed him and Ponder had an easy pass for the touchdown. The two point conversion was a much more impressive catch as Rudolph went to the back of the end zone and Ponder put the ball high up where only the six foot six inch Rudolph could get it—and even then the tight end had to make a leaping grab. If the Vivkings can keep using his size, he will continue to be a deadly end zone threat.
Week 7 - Rudolph was held without a catch for the first time this year, not so much because of his own poor play, but because of both game plan and Ponder’s inconsistencies. Rudolph was the target of Ponder’s first interception, but the throw was both above and behind the tight end; he had no chance to readjust. In the red zone, his presence actually pulled a defender away from Percy Harvin, giving the wide receiver enough space to catch and run for a touchdown. Ponder did try forcing the ball to Rudolph once, as Adrian Wilson had very tight coverage on a slant and was able to slap the ball away. Soon after Ponder was flushed from the pocket and overthrew the tight end yet again. The only time the two were able to connect was a great run and catch down the right sideline, where Rudolph showed a surprising amount of speed and was able to gain 19 yards. However, the play was called back because of an illegal formation. With the pass rush from the Arizona defense mounting and the run game working so well, Rudolph often found himself blocking as opposed to running routes.
Week 8 - Rudolph was invisible for long stretches against Tampa Bay. His first target did not come until late in the first half. He was in a mismatch against a defensive back, winning easily to convert a third down. His next involvement in the passing game did not arrive until garbage time late in the game. The Vikings did not have many chances in the red zone, where Rudolph has dominated defenses this season. Harvin and Simpson were the targets of choice for Ponder. Kyle Rudolph is a very promising, but still developing, tight end on a team that relies on the run game. Expect a high level of weekly fluctuation in his fantasy production that will depend on the volume of Minnesota’s trips to the red zone in a given game.
Week 9 - Not only was Rudolph non-existent in the passing game, he was also crushed by Red Bryant while trying to run block, resulting in Adrian Peterson losing yardage. The one time a football did hit Rudolph’s hands, Ponder was rolling out and under threw the tight end, and Rudolph couldn’t get low enough to catch the short ball. When Rudolph was able to release from the line of scrimmage, he was unable to shake coverage or find open space. Since the Seattle pass rush was relentless, these tight end routes were scrapped in favor of an extra blocker to keep pressure off of Ponder.
Week 10 - Rudolph's first reception came against off coverage underneath on third and 23. His second reception was a quick pass into the flat when he was immediately tackled for a loss, but he immediately caught a crossing route for 12 yards and a first down afterwards. On first and 10 to start the third quarter, Rudolph stayed in his route after Ponder was flushed from the pocket to catch a four yard pass running towards the sideline. Rudolph really showed off his talents on a third and 3 play when he only gained 3 yards. As the pass rush got to Ponder, he looked to his big tight end who was well covered. However, Rudolph's size allowed him to outmuscle the defender for position, before he snatched the ball out of the air and dragged him forward for a first down. Rudolph was showing off excellent hands all day, he caught another pass over the middle with one defender draped on his back and another in the vicinity of the football. The play went for a first down and close to 20 yards. Rudolph came back two plays later with a 20 yard reception that went for a touchdown. He lost his defender running across the field towards the sideline, before using a blocker to waltz into the endzone with ease.
Week 12 - Rudolph has a solid game for the Vikings before leaving in the 4th quarter due to a concussion. His status for next week’s game is in question. Rudolph was Christian Ponder’s safety valve in this game, and then the Bears were applying good pressure, Ponder looked to Rudolph to get out of trouble. Rudolph’s first catch turned out to be the biggest offensive play of the day for either team. In the second quarter, Ponder faked to Peterson going one way, and then rolled out to the other side of the field with Rudolph in the flat. Ponder flipped him the ball and he had a great 25 yard catch and run because the Bears were over-focused on Peterson. A few plays later, Ponder threw a jump ball to Rudolph in the end zone but it was broken up and the Vikings had to settle for a field goal attempt (that was blocked). In the second quarter, on 3rd and 1 from the Chicago 15, Ponder ran the same play action to Peterson and Rudolph was again wide open for a 13 yard catch and run. With first and goal from the two, the Vikings ran the same play to the opposite side of the field and for the third time Rudolph was wide open for the easy TD reception. Late in the third quarter, Rudolph made a great catch on a sideline route on 3rd and 4 to give the Vikings a 1st down. It was his final catch of the day before leaving the game.
Week 13 - Aside from Adrian Peterson, the only player who made a significant contribution to the offense was Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph caught almost everything that came his way, including a ridiculous one handed grab in the second quarter on a short out which showed his incredible hands and athleticism. On the play, Rudolph was set up off the right tackle and immediately at the snap, cut across the line on a drag route. He had great inside position on Packers linebacker AJ Hawk, leaving Rudolph essentially wide open. Christian Ponder has all the time in the world, but ends up doing what Ponder often does, which is throwing high and behind Rudolph. The tight end reaches back with his left hand, almost casually, grabs the ball and brings it in for a catch. This is one of the many reasons Ponder will lock onto Rudolph at times—even his worst throws, Rudolph finds a way to catch them. Similarly on Rudolph’s touchdown, the throw was a bit ill-conceived (Rudolph was bracketed by two defenders and the ball never should have reached him) but Ponder was able to make just enough of a good throw to give Rudolph a chance to score. Unfortunately, that tendency to throw to Rudolph in traffic bit the Vikings in the rear end during the last play of the third quarter as Ponder tried to beat safety Morgan Burnett with a throw to Rudolph and instead threw an interception. Rudolph had good position, and Burnett made a great play on the ball, but Ponder’s throw was again too slow getting to Rudolph.
Week 14 - Rudolph was targeted a couple times in the fourth quarter but he finished the game without a catch. He just wasn't a big part of the game plan after the Vikings opened up a 14-0 lead.
Week 15 - Rudolph caught Ponder's first pass of the day open on a play-action bootleg underneath. He ran away from the defender for a first down. Rudolph's second reception came on exactly the same play at the start of the third quarter except to the other side of the field.
Week 16 - As has been the case all year, when Christian Ponder is able to make a big throw, it is often Kyle Rudolph on the receiving end. Against the Texans was no different as Rudolph caught a 4 yard pass for a touchdown that put the Vikings ahead for good. On the play, Ponder faked play action and rolled to the left. Rudolph chipped his man at the line of scrimmage before running an out pattern to the left side of the end zone. Ponder threw him an accurate pass for the easy score. Rudolph also had a 27 yard reception on an out pattern from the right seam. Even though the Vikings offense doesn't call on Rudolph to be a large part of things, it is clear that Ponder trusts him and the two have a great rapport, particularly in the red zone.
Week 17 - Rudolph's first reception was a crossing route off of play-action that went for 10 yards. After letting a fastball in the flat go through his hands, Rudolph beat safety Jeron McMillian in single coverage of the middle for 10 yards on second and 10. Rudolph drew a holding penalty against single coverage in the endzone in the third quarter.
Week 18 - Rudolph's first reception came in the flat off of play action for a gain of six as he beat a defender to the sideline. Ponder caught a deep crossing route for 15 yards on first and 10. He caught the ball just before absorbing a hit from an arriving safety. Rudolph caught a 30+ yard pass in the dying seconds against prevent defense that was the final play of the game.