The Minnesota Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph is an excellent target for fantasy football owners looking to get value from the tight end position later in their drafts.
Today, I will discuss Rudolph, as well as some other tight ends who will give you great draft day returns without having to break the bank.
I took a week-long hiatus to spend time with family, do some gardening, and celebrate a birthday, but I also participated in more MFL10 drafts over at MyFantasyLeague.com. If you haven’t heard of them yet, or participated in any, you really should get on it. They are addicting, better than mock drafting, and there is monetary incentive for a minimal fee. Plus, they are best ball format and if elected are draft only.
Anyhow, back to the topic at hand.
Tight end is a position that is becoming more and more critical to fantasy football, especially with the dominance of the “Big Three” over the past several seasons. In reality, there will be great disparity within the position in 2014, but if you miss out on one of the elite options there are plenty of serviceable players to roll out there every week — and of course some deeper or undervalued targets.
All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference
3. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz is currently being drafted as a fantasy starter in most 12-team leagues (ADP 12). However, he is likely getting overlooked due to the amount of weapons in Philadelphia, as well as the presence of Brent Celek. The Eagles will be running plenty of two-TE sets this year, which should benefit Ertz, and they’ve been vocal about how much they liked what they saw from him last season.
In 2013, Ertz caught 36 passes for 469 yards and four touchdowns. Not fantastic numbers, but not awful either, and he has room to improve in his second season. Remember, rookies at the tight end position don’t tend to wow anyone. Sure, he could be pedestrian and waiver fodder by Week 3, but he could also be on the cusp of a big season.
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Zach Ertz’s 2014 Projections:
55 receptions, 710 yards, 6 TD
2. Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Walker had a nice breakout season in 2013, and with Ken Whisenhunt now in town fawning over him, he should be in for a very nice 2014. He hauled in 60 catches for 517 yards and six touchdowns last season, and that may have been a preview of what is about to come in 2014.
Walker is a big and physical target who is now in an offense that favors tight ends even more. The Titans also upgraded their offensive line this off-season, boosting the team’s passing capabilities.
Consider this: according FantasyPros.com, he is currently getting drafted 21st among tight ends in mock drafts and I am buying him where I can — and getting him late as well.
Delanie Walker’s 2014 Projections:
80 receptions, 700 yards, 8 TD
1. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
I have to contain my homer excitement for Rudolph this season…but…I…can’t contain it!
Kyle Rudolph is a massive talent, and last season’s unfortunate injury hurt his fantasy stock this year. That is great news for owners like myself, and hopefully you!
He will have a new quarterback in either Matt Cassel or Teddy Bridgewater. Rudolph would fare even better if Bridgewater wins the job, as rookie quarterbacks tend to love their safety net — and his 6-foot-6 tight end is a big one.
Most importantly, there is a new offensive coordinator in town, and his name is Norv Turner. How much do the Vikings value Rudolph as a part of their future? They just extended him for five years and $36.5 million. Both are very positive things. If we take a look at Norval’s track record with tight ends, it only adds to the excitement. Turner has cranked out top 10 fantasy tight ends on a regular basis over the past 10 seasons.
A few big examples:
» Jordan Cameron in 2013: 80 catches (117 targets!), 917 yards and 11 touchdowns
» Antonio Gates averaged 105+ targets during Turner’s time in San Diego
Needless to say, he targets tight ends plenty, and because of this you are all but guaranteed a top 10, if not a top five weapon in his offenses. Wait on tight end, but I’d strike no later than the seventh round with Rudolph. He currently has an ADP of 92.
Kyle Rudolph’s 2014 Projections:
65 receptions, 785 yards, 8 TD