I was originally going to highlight Delanie Walker here, but with the late-week injury, even if he’s active, I doubt he will do much. The slick stream play there is rookie Jonnu Smith, who already has two touchdowns in a part-time role. But no, in a week of good tight end matchups, it’s time for the Kyle Rudolph show as the Vikings host the Baltimore Ravens. Though I am not a huge believer in Kyle Rudolph on a week-to-week basis, I understand that with fantasy football tight ends, it’s all about matchup and opportunity, and Rudolph has all the opportunity in a good matchup to produce this weekend.
First, opportunity. The Vikings will be without the hyper-talented Stefon Diggs this weekend, which means that Case Keenum will rely on Adam Thielen and Rudolph. Rudolph’s usage since Diggs tweaked his groin indicates that he will be peppered with targets this weekend, as he has 18 targets over the last two games (Diggs hurt his groin two games ago, and missed last week). Rudolph’s snap count has also steadily increased from week one (84.6%) to last week (97.4%). Half of Rudolph’s six red zone targets came in the last two games, as well. Remember, 20 yards and a touchdown is what we’re hoping for as a base for tight ends, so getting red zone targets is key.
The snaps and targets come against a chump tight end defense with the Baltimore Ravens. Granted, they gave up three touchdowns to Marcedes Lewis in London, so their numbers are a bit skewed. But at the same time, they gave up three touchdowns to Marcedes Lewis. To put that in reference, the three scores match the number of scores Lewis had between December 23, 2013 and and September 23, 2017. You can call that performance fluky if you want, but the raccoons last week (sorry, raccoons are known as “trash bears,” and the Chicago Bears are trash, so I thought I’d just shorten it) had two tight ends go for over eight fantasy points against them. They are, as the kids say, not good at stopping tight ends. Their six scores allowed rank second in the league. Even if you scale Lewis back to one score, that’s four touchdowns. That’s fifth. No matter how you cut it, tight ends against the Ravens are scoring more than teens after prom night.
Kyle Rudolph hasn’t lived up to his draft stock thus far, posting the nineteenth-most fantasy points per game among tight ends. He was drafted as a TE1, but was within the top fifteen just twice so far this year, the same as the two times he’s been outside the top twenty. He’s been less-than-stellar so far this year, but don’t stray from him this week. He’s in for a good game.