Irv Smith Jr. caught 30-of-43 targets for 365 yards (12.2 Y/R) and five touchdowns in his age-22 season, finishing as TE22 in half-PPR points per game. Veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph signed with the Giants, leaving Smith as the clear-cut top option at the position. Tight ends traditionally take longer to develop, so to see Smith with two 300+ yard seasons under his belt while sharing time with Rudolph is impressive. This is a player with second-round draft capital and untapped upside, ready to be unlocked with an increased role. Smith should be able to set career-highs across the board in his third year in the NFL.
Smith was only able to post an 11.62% target share last season. Playing in a run-heavy offense with two stud wide receivers, it might be difficult for Smith to stay fantasy-relevant due to the limited volume. The team also likes backup Tyler Conklin, who could conceivably step right into the Rudolph role. We have also heard head coach Mike Zimmer say that he doesn’t expect Smith’s role to change too much. This is all bad news for a player who we’re really projecting forward with his current draft cost. Even though his early-career production is impressive, there’s a lot of downside to Smith.
Smith is currently being drafted as TE13 (133.7 ADP), which shows that his upside is already baked into his price. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Smith puts up more than 500-600 yards in this run-heavy offense as the number-three target, perhaps even number-four behind Dalvin Cook. This makes Smith an overpriced tight end right now. He needs the Vikings to pass more in order to provide enough fantasy value to justify this cost. Look elsewhere if you’re looking for a breakout tight end, like Adam Trautman of the Saints.