Irv Smith Flashes Once Again
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Image Credit: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Irv Smith Jr.

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The tight position requires patience; you know this. It’s challenging to wait for the progression and development of a prospect we initially liked when other tight ends are posting strong numbers each week. However, if you have the roster space to do so, stashing, waiting, and hitting on a young tight end can alter the landscape of your dynasty team for years to come. One sophomore tight end continues to trend in the right direction, and I believe his future success will be more than worth the wait. In Week 14, Irv Smith Jr. once again flashed his upside and potential.

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) won’t play in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rudolph had been having a solid stretch of games before he was held without a catch last week. Irv Smith Jr. is back for Minnesota though and should see some solid usage with Rudolph sidelined. Smith is a solid TE2 option against a defense allowing the 10th-most fantasy points per game to the position.

Steady, Promising Progression

Smith brought an encouraging two-year production profile from the University of Alabama, an impressive combine performance, and second-round draft capital. A Day 2 pick, especially a second-round pick, is not a cheap pick to spend on a tight end. The Vikings did not have an immediate need at the tight end position when they selected Smith, but it seemed to be a good investment and still feels that way a year later.

Despite playing second fiddle to Rudolph, Smith posted six games with at least seven fantasy points as a rookie. That’s a decent floor for a rookie backup in a 2TE league. He managed to finish as a TE1 once as a rookie and already has three such instances this year. Smith has been a bit more volatile as a sophomore as wide receiver rookie sensation Justin Jefferson and running back Dalvin Cook continue to carry the load. Still, it’s encouraging to see Smith get more production as the season progresses. His 16.3 fantasy points in Week 14 were the fourth time he’s topped 10 points this season.

How To Play It

The current starting tight end for the Vikings remains Rudolph. The veteran is under contract through the 2023 season, but the team could let him go after this season and sustain a dead cap hit worth just over $4 million. That’s noteworthy because the same move before the season would have cost them almost $13 million. Adam Thielen and Jefferson look to anchor the wide receiver room, and Cook has been nothing but stellar this season. Should the team decide to move on from Rudolph, Smith immediately becomes fantasy relevant. He is someone I am buying regardless of what happens with Rudolph since I believe in his talent and potential. There are various, cheap options to target at the tight end position, but Smith is my favorite of them all.

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Sam Wallace

A featured writer for RotoViz, Sam specializes in dynasty. One of our favorite social media voices, he's developing a reputation as a breakout expert.

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