Irv Smith Jr.
TE - MIN
Arif Hasan of The Athletic writes Irv Smith has the talent and opportunity to become the No. 3 weapon in the Vikings' passing game.
The tight end position has one of the longest learning curves coming out of the draft, but Smith is now entering his third season in the NFL. Kyle Rudolph is in New York and the third-year pro has a clear path to the starting role. The Vikings have a limited number of pass-catchers behind Justin Jefferson and an aging Adam Thielen, which presents a big opportunity for the former Crimson Tide to become the No. 3 option in the passing game. The Vikings routinely play with two tight ends on the field more than most, so he should have ample playing time. When Rudolph went down with an injury late last year, Smith had 15 catches for 183 yards and three touchdowns in weeks 14-17. During that time, he ranked as the TE4. It's a small sample size to be sure, but fantasy managers shouldn't be surprised if he breaks into the top-10 for tight ends. He's currently being drafted as the TE11, which is a nice spot for fantasy managers to target him.
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is not planning for a breakout year from third-year tight end Irv Smith Jr. despite the absence of Kyle Rudolph. "Honestly, I don’t think it’s any bigger role for him whatsoever," explained Zimmer. "I think it’s a bigger role for Tyler Conklin. He’s kind of emerged as a guy that’s moving upward and with those two guys, we have a lot of weapons there. Irv always has been able to do what he’s been able to do whether Kyle was here or not. We’re excited about these two young tight ends that we have."
This has to be painful for managers who have high roster shares of the young tight end. Instead of sliding into a large role in 2021, it sounds like he'll merely split time with Conklin. In an offense that already features Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen, these latest comments from Zimmer further smother any hope that Smith might finish as a top-12 tight end. Fantasy managers shall adjust accordingly and treat Smith merely as a depth piece.
Irv Smith Jr. caught two of three targets for 30 yards in the Vikings’ 37-35 win over the Lions on Sunday.
Smith Jr.'s performance was a bit disappointing on a night where Kirk Cousins threw for 405 yards. He posted 36/311/2 across 16 games as a rookie and went 30/365/5 across 11 games in his second season. Smith Jr. will look to take the next step forward in his third season in 2021.
Irv Smith Jr. corralled six of nine targets for 53 yards and two TDs in the Vikings' 52-33 loss to the Saints on Christmas.
Smith Jr.'s huge day came out of nowhere after he disappointed a week ago. It's nearly impossible to predict his production on a weekly basis, but he'll be on the streaming radar for Week 17 against the Lions if Kyle Rudolph remains out.
Irv Smith Jr. caught three of four targets for 37 yards in the Vikings’ 33-27 loss to the Bears on Sunday.
Smith Jr. flopped in Sunday's favorable matchup, as Tyler Conklin finished with the stronger performance. Kyle Rudolph could return in Week 16, and Smith Jr. won't be a recommended play against New Orleans on Christmas Day.
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