Irv Smith Jr
David Berding/Associated Press

Why Irv Smith Jr. Should Be A Tight End To Target In Fantasy Football 2021

When picturing the Vikings’ offense, Dalvin Cook is the first name that comes to mind, followed closely by Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, but the Vikings are consistently mediocre at another spot: tight end. However, in 2019, Irv Smith Jr. (who was sneakily the best TE in his class) was taken by the Vikings, only to be the backup behind Kyle Rudolph for the past two seasons.

Irv Smith Jr. No Longer Has Competition At The TE Position

But sitting behind Rudolph is no longer a problem for Smith Jr. this year, as Rudolph is on the Giants after being unhappy with his usage rate in Minnesota. The additional opportunities resulting from Rudolph’s departure should propel Smith Jr. to the primary tight end spot, and although Cook, Jefferson, and Thielen will see more targets than him, Smith Jr. will nevertheless have a large role in Minnesota’s offense (and he is the first guy to tell you that he plans to score a lot in 2021).

When Kyle Rudolph was out with an injury in 2020, Smith Jr. took on his role well, becoming the TE4 during weeks 14-17. Sure, it was a small sample size, but it proves Smith Jr. will become a star when given the opportunity to be the primary TE. Right now, the TE position is one of the shallowest in fantasy and tight ends drop off dramatically in production after the Big Three of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller. Right now, on most draft boards, Smith Jr. is TE13, below guys like Rob Gronkowski and Dallas Goedert.

While Smith Jr’s fantasy stock is rising, he is still disrespected on nearly every draft board. If you cannot get one of the top three tight ends, Irv Smith Jr. is a good consolation prize in a later round, as he will give you great production at the TE position and he has the upside to break into the top 5 on a weekly basis.

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