Many experts rightfully pegged former Notre Dame TE Kyle Rudolph as a sleeper candidate coming into the 2012 season. Rudolph finished as TE9 by finding the endzone at a consistent rate during his sophomore campaign. In 2013 Rudolph is being drafted at pick 7.11 as the 6th TE off of the board. The 7th round is too high for a player who’s small-sample fantasy production has relied on fantasy football’s least predictable stat, touchdowns.
Rudolph made his living in the red zone last season, but when outside of the red zone Rudolph was awful and it showed in his small yardage totals. Rudolph never posted more than 67 yards in a single game in 2012. Here are his 2012 stats outside of the red zone:
Rudolph didn’t catch a single TD from outside of the red zone all season. He also posted a low yards/target average. If you remove Rudolph’s red zone production, he would have averaged 2.49 PPG in standard formats. To summarize how bad Rudolph is outside of the red zone – here is how Gronk, who also scores a large percentage of his fantasy points on TDs, fared outside of the red zone in 2012.
Gronkowski, who is the same height and only weighs 6 more pounds than Rudolph, scored 3 TDs outside of the end zone even though he had 14 fewer targets than Rudolph. Gronk also averaged 40 more yards per game outside of the 20 yard line, along with more than doubling Rudolph’s yards per target average.
Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Rudolph’s outstanding 53% redzone TD rate in 2012 was an outlier from his days at Notre Dame.
Rudolph battled hamstring problems all season during his final year at Notre Dame which probably contributed to his drop off in redzone TD rate, but even at his peak he only had a 30% red zone TD rate. Considering Rudolph’s 53% red zone TD rate in 2012 was such an outlier from his college days, dropping that percentage down to 45% seems like a reasonable expectation moving forward. Here are the numbers Rudolph would have finished with in 2012 with a 45% redzone TD rate:
Even though the 5% drop in red zone touchdown rate would only cost Rudolph 1.35 TDs, it would have dropped him to TE11 in standard scoring leagues.
Rudolph is not enough of a factor outside of the redzone to be drafted in the 7th round. With such a thin TE group in 2013, Rudolph could easily finish as a top 10 TE, but his low upside does not warrant him being drafted much higher than players such as Greg Olsen (9.07) who has a very sustainable red zone TD rate (21%), and is a factor outside of the opponents’ 20.
The TE Similarity Score App also suggests Rudolph’s ceiling is very low.
Rudolphs ADP may be elevated because of the thin TE position in 2013, but drafting him towards the end of the 7th round leaves very little room for error. More consistent, higher upside, and predictable TEs can be found in the later rounds.