Just breathe Chicken Little; the sky isn’t falling.

 

But it may feel like it.

Through three weeks, Kyle Rudolph has caught just eight passes for 75 yards with one touchdown on 11 targets (2.7 catches, 25 yards, .33 touchdowns and 3.7 targets per game), putting the Vikings tight end on pace for about 42 receptions for 400 yards, five touchdowns and 59 targets.

Those would all be career-lows for any season the Notre Dame product has played 16 games.

At his position in fantasy, he’s tied for 18th in receptions, 22nd in receiving yards and tied for ninth in touchdown catches. 

Yet, Rudolph, drafted as a top-10 tight end in fantasy, remains one.

That it is so definitive says enough about the state of the position in our crazy little game.

Needless to say, the tide shall turn.

He had a similar stretch to this one last season – when he caught a career-high 83 passes for a career-high 840 yards and seven touchdowns on 132 targets (the targets bested his career high by 39).

Weeks 7-10 in 2016 he totaled 20 targets with 113 receiving yards on 13 catches and two touchdowns. That’s five targets and about 28 receiving yards, four receptions and .5 touchdowns per game.

He came out of that just fine.

That is because at 6-6, 265 pounds and with his 10 ¾-inch hands, he is a physical specimen in the prime of his career who has too much history of productivity when healthy – injuries have cost him 16 games over his seven-year career – to maintain a pedestrian pace.

Don’t worry about what Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are doing, either. They are second and third, respectively, in the ENTIRE NFL in receiving yards – a strong indicator of this passing game’s prospects for the rest of this season.

Their play benefits Rudolph.

As defenses wise up to the talent of Diggs and Thielen, they’ll put more emphasis on slowing them down, creating more room for Rudolph to operate.

FantasyPros pegs Rudolph as the No. 6 tight end in standard and No. 8 in PPR this week and No. 5 the rest of the season in standard and No. 3 in PPR.

Here’s how I compare him to the rest of FantasyPros’ top 10 tight ends in standard scoring for the rest of the season (evaluations also apply to PPR):

  • No. 1 Rob Gronkowski > Rudolph; for obvious reasons in standard and PPR.
  • No. 2 Travis Kelce > Rudolph; for (slightly less) obvious reasons in standard and PPR.
  • No. 3 Zach Ertz > Rudolph; Ertz is a targets machine in a passing attack where he’s a top dog.
  • Rudolph > No. 4 Delanie Walker; Walker is 33 years old and on pace to see his targets decline for a second consecutive season in an up-and-coming offense looking to feed other mouths as it builds for the future.
  • Rudolph > No. 6 Jordan Reed; both have injury concerns, but Reed’s are flaring up now with him day to day and having missed Week 3.
  • Rudolph > No. 7 Martellus Bennett; barring injuries to Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams AND Randall Cobb, Bennett is fourth in the pecking order with not many targets to spare for him.
  • No. 8 Jimmy Graham > Rudolph; injury concerns are there for both, but Graham is the clear-cut No. 2 guy in a Seattle offense that’s becoming more Russell Wilson driven.
  • Rudolph > No. 9 Eric Ebron; opportunity in the red zone is there for him with Anquan Boldin gone, but he hasn’t stepped up. Too many drops. Matthew Stafford’s love of Golden Tate doesn’t help. 
  • Rudolph > No. 10 Coby Fleener; New Orleans gets another mouth back this week: Willie Snead.

Verdict: Don’t abandon ship on Rudolph; sit tight. Look to buy low if an owner in your league is panicking and you’re in need at tight end.

Want to talk more fantasy football? E-mail Mike at mike.nelson@startribune.com or heckle him on Twitter @mike_e_nelson.

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