Irv Smith Jr.
  • Irv Smith Jr.

  • TE
  • , Cincinnati Bengals
  • 25
  • 242 lbs
  • 6' 2"
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Scouting report

by Spencer Babbitt

MIN TE Irv Smith Jr. - Week 3 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 3 vs. Detroit Lions
Irv Smith Jr. saw increased involvement in the Minnesota offense in Week 2 with another week of recovery from his preseason thumb injury and a negative game script requiring additional passing volume from Kirk Cousins. Smith's eight targets were actually second on the team behind Justin Jefferson's 12, and Smith was even schemed a short red zone touchdown early in the game. Any tight end garnering eight targets and red zone looks in an offense like Minnesota's is worth TE1 consideration and Smith is no exception heading into a great Week 3 matchup against a weak Lions defense.

by Spencer Babbitt

MIN TE Irv Smith Jr. - Week 2 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 2 at Philadelphia Eagles
Irv Smith Jr. was left fighting for scraps behind Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn in Week 1 as he only registered two targets, both of which he failed to convert into receptions. The Vikings offense looked impressive against Green Bay, but until Smith works his way into a larger role and more targets from Kirk Cousins or someone suffers an injury, he is not playable in fantasy outside of the deepest of leagues.

by Spencer Babbitt

MIN TE Irv Smith Jr. - Week 1 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 1 vs. Green Bay Packers
Irv Smith Jr. suffered an injury to his thumb during training camp, but he has been ramping up his practice participation in recent days in anticipation of playing Week 1. If active, Smith should instantly take over the TE depth chart in Minnesota and profiles as a near every-snap player. Like many tight ends drafted after the upper tiers, Smith will likely be a touchdown-dependent fantasy option on a weekly basis, but he has intriguing physical tools and little target competition outside of Justin Jefferson and the rapidly-aging Adam Thielen. Check the injury reports later in the week to make sure Smith is trending toward playing, but if he is active he makes for a good streamer on the TE1 borderline.

by Spencer Babbitt

MIN TE Irv Smith Jr. - 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook

2022 Fantasy Upside
A popular breakout candidate in 2021, Irv Smith Jr. ended up suffering a season-ending knee injury leading up to Week 1 and did not get a chance to show his skills without Kyle Rudolph in the picture. Now Rudolph and Tyler Conklin have both left town, leaving Smith as the player projected to play the vast majority of TE snaps in Minnesota. Smith is a good athlete (he ran a 4.63 40-yard dash and posted a 71st percentile speed score entering the league), and showed flashes of his potential playing a part-time role in 2020 when he logged 12.2 yards per reception and five touchdowns. Given the current situation in Minnesota, Smith could finish amongst the leaders at TE in snap share and his target competition after Justin Jefferson is 30-year-old Adam Thielen and K.J. Osborn. We haven't seen what Smith can do on a starter's workload yet, but the opportunity and talent are there for him to make serious noise in 2022.

2022 Fantasy Downside
Smith has an extremely limited track record as he's been a part-time player in both of the seasons he's been healthy for to this point in his career. He has yet to catch more than 36 balls or exceed 365 yards in a season. Smith will get more opportunity than ever before this season, but there is no guarantee he will take advantage of that. And while there is minimal TE competition, it is possible Smith and the other TEs take a backseat to Jefferson, Thielen, Osborn, and even RB Dalvin Cook in new Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's offensive system. Relying on Smith to be your TE1 requires having faith in both him as an unproven commodity, and the Vikings offense as a whole with a new Head Coach.

2022 Bottom Line
Smith is a very intriguing TE option in the later rounds of drafts. He has the physical profile of a player who could be a big-time receiving TE and will be the clear leader at that position on his team. TE always gets murky in the middle or later rounds, but Smith has multiple variables working in his favor that make him an exciting TE1 flier.

by Frank Ammirante

MIN TE Irv Smith Jr. - 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook

Fantasy Upside
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.

Fantasy Downside
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.

Bottom Line
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.

by Richard Mejia

MIN TE Irv Smith Jr. - Week 17 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 17 at Detroit

Smith Jr. had his best game of the season last week against the New Orleans Saints as he caught 6-of-9 targets for 53 yards and two touchdowns. With the Saints secondary preoccupied with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, Smith Jr. was given free rein all over the field. Kirk Cousins was targeting him heavily towards the end of the game, a great sign for fantasy managers. With Dalvin Cook expected to miss this week’s game against the Detroit Lions, Smith Jr. should see more work, especially in the red zone. Count on him as a low-end TE1 this week.

by Richard Mejia

MIN TE Irv Smith Jr. - Week 16 Fantasy Football Outlook

Week 16 at New Orleans

Smith Jr. had a decent game last week against the Chicago Bears, as he caught 3-of-4 targets for 37 yards. With Kyle Rudolph out with injury, Smith Jr. has done well in his time as the starter. For those who streamed him, it was tough to see backup TE Tyler Conklin have the better day as he caught three receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. With the better draft pedigree and athleticism, Smith Jr. still makes the better bet to produce moving forward, however, his Week 16 matchup against the Saints might not be the week to start him. With the Saints ranking first in aFPA to TEs, Smith Jr. is a low-end TE2 option in the fantasy title game.

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