3. Irv Smith Jr. – TE
I am putting Irv Smith Jr. in this position because of where I project him to rank position-wise at the end of the 2021 season. Besides Matthew Stafford being the fantasy QB1 and in the MVP discussion at the end of the year, my hottest take for the upcoming NFL season is that Smith will be a top-five fantasy tight end in 2021.
Smith is most likely going to assume the WR3 role on the Vikings this year. By that, I mean he will finish third on the team in targets. This exponential increase in volume over what he has seen his first two years in the league backing up former Vikings-turned-New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph will pay dividends towards his production.
After Rudolph got hurt in Week 12 last year and missed the rest of the season, from Weeks 13 to 16, where Smith was Minnesota’s starting tight end, he was the fifth-ranked tight end in fantasy.
Smith’s athleticism, along with his physicality, makes him a difficult matchup for linebackers and safeties. Don’t be surprised to see him in a similar receiving role to more athletic tight ends such as George Kittle and Travis Kelce. Smith can utilize his speed on shorter leak-outs in the flat or downfield on deep shots off of play-action.