Over/Under the Market: Overweight Irv Smith Jr.
Our Over/Under the Market series identifies teams, offenses, players, or player groups that we are either over or under the market. I base where the market or other fantasy players stand based on these players’ ADPs in redraft and best ball drafts and general discussion or “buzz”.
If you agree with these points, then you can use them to find value in your redraft or best ball drafts. You can also use it for Week 1 in Daily Fantasy on DraftKings or Fanduel, and in Sportsbook Futures bets.
Irv Smith Jr.:
I will start with the negatives. Yes, Irv Smith Jr. is returning from a season-long knee injury from last preseason. Yes, he injured his thumb and had surgery last week. But the hope is he will still be ready for the start of the NFL regular season on September 11.
When healthy, Smith is the unquestioned TE1 for the Vikings with no players threatening to cut into his playing time. At 6-2, 240 lbs., Smith is a big-bodied receiver for QB Kirk Cousins. What is also exciting for Smith’s 2022 outlook is his new head coach Kevin O’Connell. O’Connell was Cousins’ QB coach in Washington in 2017, so there is a familiarity there. He was the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl Champion LA Rams, so it is easy to connect the dots and think this offense could be more explosive this year. Also of note, WR Justin Jefferson said that the Vikings are “not a run-first offense anymore”.
While Smith will compete for targets with wide receivers Jefferson and Adam Thielen, even as a 3rd target, he will get plenty of looks. Cousins attempted 561 passes last season, and that was thought to be a very run-first offense. Last year TE Tyler Conklin, who filled in for Smith, was targeted 87 times and caught 61 passes for 593 yards. Smith is thought of by analysts as a much more gifted athlete than Conklin. So even as the 3rd target, Smith will see a lot of targets that should yield a significant increase in receiving yards and TDs from his 2020 campaign, in which he caught 5 TDs and racked up 365 yards.
While Smith only had a combined 676 receiving yards during 2019 and 2020, he also had 7 TDs in his role as TE2 at the time. He also had 12.2 yards per reception in 2020. This means Kirk Cousins can get the ball downfield to Smith and he can make defenders miss with his athleticism. Again, remember Kyle Rudolph is long gone. Now Tyler Conklin is gone (with the New York Jets). Smith is now set to get full playing time and in a potentially more pass-first offense. I have well established that I am very high on the Vikings’ offense this season. This includes Irv Smith Jr. and why I want to buy-in early, especially now as he’s recovering from thumb surgery.
The best news is the value for Irv Smith Jr. Whether it is in redraft leagues, best ball drafts, or daily fantasy, Irv Smith Jr. is coming at a discount. This is because of the unknowns in coming back from injury and not playing last season. The surgery last week added to those unknowns and further dropped his ADP a little bit.
Take advantage of these unknowns and jump on these discounts. His ADP per Fantasy Pros is #128 for fantasy drafts. His current ADP on Underdog Fantasy is #133 in best ball drafts. On DraftKings Week 1, Smith is priced at just $3400 or TE20. He is priced with some TE2 and much weaker tight ends in my opinion. My recommendation is to buy-low and draft Irv Smith Jr. in redraft leagues and best ball drafts. Get him now before his “price” goes up. Playing a receiver returning from a thumb injury is scary. But I’ll even play Smith on DraftKings Week 1 if the reports are he is fully recovered from his recent surgery.