Up until last week’s barn-burner vs. the Lions, it had been a barren wasteland in terms of fantasy football for tight ends on Minnesota’s roster. Neither Kyle Rudolph nor Irv Smith Jr. had gone over double-digit fantasy points in a game all season. But last Sunday vs. Detroit, both achieved the feat, with Rudolph posting a 5-58-1 line for 16.8 FPTS and Smith going for 5-60-0 and 11 FPTS. One week of production shouldn’t give us much faith, but considering WR Adam Thielen (hamstring) is already out and the matchup bodes well, it wouldn’t surprise me if both TEs return value on Thursday night.
Fantasy Football Analysis, Minnesota Vikings TEs Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr.
So let’s break down both TEs heading into TNF at home vs. Washington. For one, being at home inside helps a lot for the passing game. Thielen was averaging just over 5.0 targets per game through seven games this season, so those will be spread out to WRs Stefon Diggs and Olabisi Johnson, and both Rudolph and Smith.
Despite generally seeing more snaps per game, Smith has been more productive than Rudolph, posting 153 yards on 12 catches, though no trips to the end zone. But Rudolph caught his first TD last week vs. the Lions, so it isn’t like he’s being looked at in the red zone a ton (they almost have the same red zone targets this season). Washington hasn’t been torched by TEs this season, but that’s mostly because everyone else on a particular offense does the torching (deep threats, RBs). This shouldn’t shy you off of either Rudolph or Smith; both are pretty decent streaming options with the Vikings offense favored heavily, plus with the increased target share, their floors are elevated a bit. Smith has been more consistent and is more of a big-play threat, though sees slightly less snaps. Rudolph is more likely to catch a TD but doesn’t offer as much upside. I’d lean Smith over Rudolph, but like both plays.
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