TE Irv Smith - Minnesota Vikings

6-4, 241Born: 8-9-1998College: AlabamaDrafted: Round 2, pick 2019

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Week 15: at Los Angeles Chargers

All TE vs LAC

FBG says: Tough matchup. Even without Adam Thielen, one of the league's top wide receivers, the Minnesota Vikings have continued to field one of the league's most efficient passing attacks. The Vikings rarely throw the ball, attempting the fourth-fewest passes in the NFL, but when they do, they utilize play-action at one of the highest-rates in the NFL, which bodes extremely well for their efficiency totals. Kirk Cousins' impressive performance this season has been a driving force behind the Vikings' improved performance through the air, even in the absence of one of their top-two pass-catchers. Without Adam Thielen, who has missed the better part of Minnesota's last seven games due to a hamstring injury, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, and Irv Smith, Jr. have all seen increased roles in the team's passing attack. Diggs leads the way as the top producer of the bunch, and with Thielen's status in question once again here in Week 15, Diggs should command the most targets of anyone on the team. If Thielen returns to action, his presence will bode well for the unit's cumulative production, but on an individual level, he would eat into every other pass-catcher's volume. The Los Angeles Chargers defense has faced the lowest passing volume of any team in the NFL while permitting the fourth-fewest passing yardage in the league. However, the unit's efficiency metrics, including their 6.2 net yards per attempt allowed, which ranks 16th in the league, are not as impressive. Along the defensive line, the Chargers field two top-tier pass rushers with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the edges. Bosa has 10.5 sacks on the season already, which ranks 7th in the NFL through 13 games. Additionally, the Chargers' already strong secondary received a boost a few weeks ago with the return of utility defensive back Derwin James. James can play on the outside at cornerback, inside at slot cornerback, and at the back-end of the defense at safety, making his value to the team's pass defense far greater than what may show up on the stat sheet. The Chargers already fielded a strong secondary, with Casey Heyward and Desmond King locking down the outside, and third-year safety Rayshawn Jenkins making massive improvements in coverage this season. Overall, the Chargers have only allowed a single 100-yard receiver on the season, and the return of Derwin James to the fold will only make it harder on all future pass-catchers to join the list of one. The Vikings' highly-efficient passing attack will need to post one of its strongest days this weekend if they have any hope of picking apart the Chargers through the air.

Recent Stats and Projections

WEEKOPPoSNAPRECYDTDFumLPts
11 vs DEN 51 3.0 20 1 0 8
13 at SEA 47 1.0 6 0 0 0.6
14 vs DET 51 3.0 21 0 0 2.1
15 at LAC 2.0 8 1 0 6.8
15 at LAC PROJ-Dodds * 2.7 * * * *
15 at LAC PROJ-Tremblay * 2.3 * * * *
15 at LAC PROJ-Bloom * 3.0 * * * *

Weekly Performance vs TE 1, TE 12, TE 24

Percentile ranks

Irv Smith's percentile rank in each category, among TE with more than 50 fantasy points.

Recent Game Summaries

2019 Week 11 vs DEN (3 / 3 / 20 / 1 rec)

After closing ground and taking playing time away from Rudolph, Smith finally made good and caught his first touchdown of his young career. He has watched Rudolph score 5 touchdowns in their last 5 games and wanted to get in on the action. It was the Vikings first touchdown of the game and was a nicely thrown ball by Cousins to Smith who had a step on his man in the seam. The ball was delivered just before Smith went out the back of the end zone and set off the first 20-point deficit at half time come back in the last 99 such games in the NFL. Smith finished the day catching all 3 of his targets and had his longest catch go for 10 yards. The rookie tight end should play a big role in the offense the rest of the season and be the tight end of the future for the Vikings.

2019 Week 10 vs DAL (6 / 5 / 34 / 0 rec)

When asked who Cousins trusts as a third receiver behind Thielen and Diggs, his answer was Smith. The rookie is quickly becoming a favorite target of his quarterback and is seeing his usage increase every week. Rudolph may have come down with the 2 red zone touchdowns this week, but Smith is the tight end the Vikings like to use to move up and down the field. The rookie caught 5 of his 6 targets this week and the lone incompletion was very questionable as to whether or not the defender got there early and could have been pass interference. His longest catch went for 9 yards and he is proving to be a big body tight end that Cousins likes to find across the middle when he needs a short completion. Smith may fully overtake Rudolph by the end of the season as the primary pass catching tight end.

2019 Week 8 vs WAS (3 / 3 / 21 / 0 rec)

The numbers do not jump off of the stat sheet this week, but Smith continues to push for more playing time in the Viking offense. Smith caught all 3 of his targets and showed an ability to run complex routes. He has seen his snap percentage increase almost every week while Rudolph has started to see a decline. Smith's longest catch went for 11 yards against the Redskins and he looks to be one of the missing pieces in the Viking offense. Until a third receiver steps up, Smith should continue to see steady targets in the offense.

2019 Week 7 vs DET (6 / 5 / 60 / 0 rec)

When Adam Thielen went down with injury there was instantly more targets to go around in the offense and the Vikings needed someone to step up. Bisi Johnson did his part with 4 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown, but they needed more. Enter rookie Irv Smith who finished second on the team in receiving this week. Smith caught 5 of his 6 targets for 60 yards and helped the Vikings keep pace with the Detroit offense. He may not have found the end zone, but he helped extend drives and showed the offensive prowess that led to his high draft pick. Smith will continue to push Rudolph for playing time the rest of the season and has already surpassed him in yardage. Look for Smith to get his first career touchdown in the coming weeks as he plays a bigger role in the offense.

2019 Week 6 vs PHI (2 / 2 / 29 / 0 rec)

The Vikings are starting to realize they have 2 good tight ends on their roster and are working to get both of them the ball. Rudolph still saw more work this week and will continue to be the number 1 tight end, but Smith showed why they drafted him in the 2nd round with a big 29-yard catch down the sideline. His only other target and catch went for no gain, but Smith showed he has big play ability and is not afraid to go up and get the ball. Smith is the tight end of the future for the Vikings and it is just a matter of when they want to make the switch to him and not it.

2019 Week 4 vs CHI (1 / 1 / 5 / 0 rec)

Smith was unable to build off of his big game a week ago. He had a single target and reception this week and did not challenge Rudolph for more playing time going forward. Smith projects out as the more athletic tight end but does not appear to be ready in this offense just yet. By the end of the season it will be Smith headlining the tight end group, but it is still too early to pass the torch.

2019 Week 3 vs OAK (3 / 3 / 60 / 0 rec)

There has not been much to celebrate for the Vikings through the air, but the emergence of Smith may be one of them. He broke out this week with 3 catches for 60 yards and led the team in receiving yards. He had a long catch and run down the side line for 26 yards and he continues to push Rudolph for playing time and targets in the offense. Smith seems to be clicking with Cousins more than Rudolph right now and we could see his playing time increase over the next few weeks if he continues to produce. The Vikings are very high on Smith and could move to him as the full-time starter before the season is over.

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Schedule

15@ Los Angeles Chargers
16vs Green Bay Packers
17vs Chicago Bears