A position that many of us dread in redrafts is the tight end spot. Especially once the studs such as Kelce, Waller, Pitts, Kittle and Andrews are off the board.

After the stud tight ends are selected it’s hit and miss with the rest at the position who you will roster, not enough consistency for my liking. For instance, in 2021 only three players at the position had over 14 PPG average and the following six were two points per game behind. Drafting a potential breakout candidate can be the difference between winning and losing a Championship. Therefore, this is why I have made the case for Irv Smith Jr. as a standout breakout candidate and a must draft player ahead of this year’s redraft and keepers leagues.

The ADP of Irv Smith Jr. is criminal at this point in time. When you consider that he is the only legitimate tight end that the Vikings have to line up. Furthermore, he has new coaching staff that will look to throw the ball more. Smith Jr. is a player that has the potential to be a stud this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished inside the top eight tight ends for 2022. After all, the Vikings have 97 departed tight end targets up for grabs this year.

The signs were there…

Let’s head back to 2020, the Vikings were a run first offense and Smith Jr. was sat third on the depth chart behind Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Conklin. Since then, Rudolph has underwhelmed for the New York Giants and since been released whilst Tyler Conklin has joined the green side of New York with the Jets. This is Smith Jr’s best opportunity for the Vikings since he was drafted by them in 2019.

In 2020 we had a bite size sample of Smith Jr’s potential. This was a player who had a 73% pass catching rate and ranked 8th amongst tight ends in Yard per Throw. Furthermore, he had five touchdowns on the year which ranked 13th across all tight ends. Also, it appears that the new Vikings head coach is an admirer of the Vikings tight end having said this week ‘Irv Smith Jr. is going to be a huge part in what we do as an organization this year’.

Breakout year denied…

Last year, prior to a torn meniscus it was Irv Smith Jr. who was slated as the Vikings number one tight end on their depth chart. When the 2022 season starts Smith Jr. will turn 24 and have one year left on his rookie contract – a year where he’ll have the bit between his teeth.

Fantasy Outlook

It appears that Irv Smith Jr. is good to go ahead of the 2022 campaign. He has been participating at the Vikings off-season training camp and was spotted completing running routes at the recent open practices.

The ADP for Smith Jr. blows my mind. For context, on Sleeper he is currently ranked as the 19th tight end off the board in PPR leagues. A tip for the savvy fantasy players out there, when the stud tight ends are off the board you are better off continuing to find value in other positions and reap the benefits of Smith Jr’s ridiculous ADP across most fantasy platforms.

Last season the Vikings surprised a lot of us as they ranked 12th in neutral passing rate across the league. If they continue at that pace in 2022 then Smith Jr. could be in for a very nice year. As I have already touched on, he will need to have a career year as he will become an unrestricted free agent in 2023, this should give him all of the motivation he needs especially with just shy of a hundred targets going free.

In his last campaign in 2020, his numbers made for great reading albeit in a sample size portion but in a year where he has no real competition and departed targets for the taking, I am expecting big things.

Draft Irv Smith Jr. this year and thank me for it at the end of the year!

You can follow Luke on Twitter @MCRsBlue to keep up with his work. Keep your eyes peeled for more articles from our great team, coming soon.

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