Two young, promising tight ends continue our Fantasy Feud series.
Outside of the top two guys, the tight end position is relatively deep, and the top 15 or so players usually finish the season very closely knit when it comes to fantasy points. For instance, last season, the number seven tight end and the number 11 option were separated by just five points. With this congested position, a ton of debate is possible, and we start with Kyle Rudolph and Martellus Bennett.
Making the case for Rudolph
If you read my “Pump The Brakes” column regarding Rudolph, it’s probably already known which of these tight ends I prefer. Rudolph had a very fantasy relevant sophomore campaign last season, catching 53 balls for nine scores. That’s right, almost six percent of his catches were for a score. While some fantasy owners think that is a good thing, I do not. To me, Rudolph is a strong candidate for a touchdown or bust fantasy tight end. His 53 catches ranked 15th among tight end last year and his aDOT (average depth of target) was 6.1, the sixth-lowest among his position. Basically, he was hardly a factor unless he was in the red zone, but he made up for it when the Vikings did manage to get into the red zone. His 16 red zone targets last season was good enough for fourth among tight ends. Standing at a massive 6’8″, 258 pounds, Rudolph will be practically impossible to guard in the end zone. However, when he doesn’t score touchdowns, he is very, very inconsistent. He posted three games with only two grabs, and of course, killed fantasy owners with his three doughnut performances. And as incredibly incredible Adrian Peterson is, he can’t consistently drive this offense up and down the field to get Rudolph into the red zone. Clearly, outside of AP, I’m not sold on this offense, as well as Rudolph’s ability to be a consistent fantasy tight end. I have him ranked 14th at the position.
Making the case for Bennett
Despite not getting the attention that Rudolph has, I personally think Bennett is an all around better player. Bennett is actually bigger than Rudolph, standing at 6’6″, 265 lbs. He also has sub-4.70 speed that makes him more of a threat inside the 20’s than Rudolph. Bennett was in the right situation to make a name for himself last season, catching 55 balls for 626 yards and five scores. It’s funny, actually. He hyperextended his knee in Week 5, playing hurt for the majority of the season, but he still caught two more passes than Rudolph. New York was a solid fit for Bennett, but now that he is with the Bears, it may be an even better one. New head coach Marc Trestman will be implementing a short passing style of offense, which could heavily feature the athletic tight end. Bennett will serve as the athletic pass catching tight end that the Bears haven’t had in their offense since Greg Olsen was in town. As long as he improves his hands after sporting the league’s 11th-worst drop percentage (7.8), Bennett could very well be a top-10 fantasy option at the tight end position. His top notch blocking ability will keep him on the field often, especially when you consider how bad the Bears’ offensive line was a season ago.
I’m taking the safer, more talented player in Bennett in my fantasy leagues. Simply, I am not a firm believer in Rudolph, and won’t be until he becomes more of a factor outside of the red zone. Sure, he has a ton of upside, but at 26-years old, so does Bennett. He is also a bit more of a safer option in the process. I think Brandon Marshall’s ridiculous 194 targets go down a bit, and a chunk of them head to Bennett in what appears to be an intermediate passing attack. As long as he can stay on the field, Bennett will be one of the more productive fantasy tight ends in 2013.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.