The Meteoric Rise of a Fantasy Football Tight End

Fantasy football managers know the big names of the tight ends around the NFL:  Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley, and others.  But there’s one name coming out of the Minnesota Vikings camp that could be joining this elite group very soon:  Kyle Rudolph.

Rudolph, who is 6-foot-6 and 258 pounds out of Notre Dame, was a second-round selection by the Vikings in the 2011 NFL Draft.  In his rookie campaign, while sharing time with Visanthe Shiancoe, Rudolph posted 8 starts, 26 receptions, 249 yards, and 3 touchdowns in 15 games.

Shiancoe is now with the New England Patriots, and while the Vikings signed former Seattle Seahawks TE John Carlson in the offseason, Carlson sprained his MCL and is out for 2-4 weeks.

This has allowed Rudolph an opportunity to shine in training camp, and shine, he has.

Mark Craig of the Star-Tribune describes Rudolph as having “10-foot fishing nets for hands.”

“He’s a guy that has a chance to be special,” Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier told Kevin Seifert of “He works very hard and is very talented, there’s no question about that. But the way he can catch the football is second-to-none. … His catching radius is amazing. If Christian gets it close to him, he knows that Kyle is going to come up with the football. That gives him a lot of confidence.”

“Kyle has had a great offseason,” Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave told Mike Wobschall for the team website. “He has gained strength without losing any movement. He is one of the guys that we are going to count on to contribute who wasn’t a full-time starter last year.”

Multiple sources have described Rudolph as one of quarterback Christian Ponder’s favorite targets.

The Vikings offense likely won’t be terribly exciting.  Like Rudolph, Ponder is in just his second year, so kinks still need to be ironed out.  Nevertheless, their opponents are going to have to worry about stopping Adrian Peterson, which should open up the pass offense a little bit.

Further, the Vikings defense was atrocious last year, allowing the second-most points per game in the NFL.  That’s going to force Minnesota to throw a lot, and with defensive backs focused on wide receiver Percy Harvin, Rudolph could very likely be quite a busy guy on the receiving end of Ponder’s passes.

We have Rudolph among our list of Top 10 fantasy football tight ends.  Managers of teams in keeper or dynasty leagues should be all over him, and even redraft-leaguers should expect a nice showing from him in 2012.

Even better, he’s currently being selected in Yahoo fantasy football leagues in the 14th round as the No. 26 tight end, which makes him a fantastic bargain.  Perhaps even a “sleeper,” to continue the overuse of a clichéd term.

So get your fantasy football team names through us, and then take our advice and select Kyle Rudolph as your tight end once all the studs are gone.

You won’t regret it.