Tight end John Carlson has been a disappointment through his first season and half with the Minnesota Vikings, but with Kyle Rudolph (broken foot) expected to be out 4-6 weeks after being injured in Week 9 he was in line for opportunities starting with Thursday night’s game against the Washington Redskins. Carlson did not disappoint, with seven receptions for 98 yards and his first touchdown in a Vikings’ uniform while being targeted a team-high seven times. The earliest Rudolph could return looks like Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens, so should fantasy football owners now have Carlson on their radar?
Carlson has two seasons with 50-plus catches on his resume, in 2008 (55 receptions for 627 yards and five touchdowns) and 2009 (51 receptions for 574 yards and seven touchdowns) with the Seattle Seahawks, but he has fallen completely off the fantasy radar after a dismal 2010 season (31 catches), missing the entire 2011 season with a shoulder injury and catching just eight passes last season for the Vikings in 14 games played.
Assuming Rudolph returns and is at full strength in Week 14, Carlson’s window to be a contributor for fantasy owners looks likely to be narrowed to the next three weeks. Week 11 brings a matchup with the Seahawks, who are in the top half of the league against opposing tight ends (6.3 fantasy points per game, ESPN scoring), but they have allowed 18 catches to the position over their last three games. After that Minnesota’s next three opponents, including Baltimore in Week 14, all come into Week 10 in the bottom half of the league against opposing tight ends.
Fantasy owners who are looking for a TE2 in deep leagues could consider adding Carlson, since he should continue to be a prominent target in the Vikings’ passing game while Rudolph is out. But only one top tier tight end (Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys) still has a bye coming, and Carlson is unlikely to stand out among the crowd as a potential fill-in in that scenario. His value would get a bit of a boost if Rudolph suffers a setback and misses more than the next few games or were declared out for the season, but I think Carlson’s performance against the Redskins will serve as his high-water mark for the season and fantasy owners should not chase that box score going forward.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.