Dennis Pitta and Kyle Rudolph both had their 2013 seasons limited by injury, with Pitta not playing until December after a preseason hip injury and Rudolph missing the final eight games with a broken foot. But both are likely to be popular choices for fantasy football owners this year, with new offensive coordinators bringing expectations of big production.
Is Pitta the better fantasy option for this year? Or is Rudolph the guy?
The Case for Dennis Pitta
Pitta was fairly productive in the four games he played last season, with 20 receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown. Now that he’s fully healthy, a return to 2012 production (61 receptions for 669 yards and seven touchdowns), or even better, is a possibility.
Ravens’ offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak traditionally coaxed good production out of tight ends during his time with the Houston Texans, including Garrett Graham last year (49 catches for 545 yards and five touchdowns). It’s safe to say Pitta at 100 percent healthy will be a prominent part of Baltimore’s offense.
The Case For Kyle Rudolph
Despite a lackluster quarterback situation, Rudolph had 30 receptions (for 313 yards) and three touchdowns in his eight games last year. It’s worth noting his best game of the season (nine catches for 97 yards and a touchdown) came in a game Matt Cassel started, and Cassel is in line to be Minnesota’s Week 1 starter right now.
New Vikings’ offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s system has produced a top-seven fantasy tight end in six of the last seven seasons, including a breakout campaign from Jordan Cameron (80 receptions for 917 yards and seven touchdowns) last year. Turner’s imagination should put Rudolph in the slot more this year, which creates a major potential mismatch for defenses.
Rudolph has 15 touchdowns in 39 career games, and his role as a primary red zone threat will remain this year.
Rudolph and Pitta are both part a large second-tier of tight ends after Jimmy Graham, and each will be worth drafting as a TE1 in all leagues regardless of scoring format. I like Pitta’s upside a bit better in PPR leagues, but touchdown scoring can help mask an otherwise bad week and that makes Rudolph my choice here.