Even with a quarterback on auto-pilot during the first few weeks of the season, Irv Smith Jr. was able to have a 9.0-point fantasy outing in Week 3 to the tune of 60 yards one week after Kyle Rudolph had the only other three-plus points performance (3.9 points) of any Vikings tight end until Week 6. Such has been Minnesota’s offense. In fact, from weeks 6 to 9 Smith Jr. and Rudolph have combined for only three 11-plus points fantasy performances topping at 16.8 in Week 7 (Kyle Rudolph).
Comparing the leading tight ends of the Vikings, Rudolph has had the upper hand all season long over Smith Jr. That is not to say Rudolph has been a good play, though, as he is the TE35 this season in points per game (Smith Jr. ranks 44th). Minnesota kept the passing game quiet during the first few weeks of the season and although Kirk Cousins has ramped it up lately it has mostly gone through Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
Considering how bad the tight end position has been around the league, and the lack of weekly viable options, what Rudolph has done should be taken into consideration. He has scored two touchdowns and combined for 98 receiving yards in his last three games and has an average of 10.9 fantasy points in that span. Smith Jr. hasn’t scored any touchdowns, but at least he’s been targeted five times per game and has 114 yards in his last three outings for an average of 7.8 points.
Fantasy Football Analysis, Minnesota Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr.
Through Week 9, only nine tight ends are averaging more than 10 fantasy points per game—and Hunter Henry has played just five games while Will Dissly is done for the year. On the other hand, up to 28 players at the position have had at least one game of 15-plus fantasy points and 18 players have even reached 20 fantasy points at least once. To sum up: no one knows how the tight end position works.
Basing our decision to start or sit Rudolph/Smith Jr. this weekend on past performances and matchup, only Rudolph should be considered (strictly as a streaming option). Rudolph has had back-to-back games of 16.8 and 11.3 points (58 and 23 yards, one touchdown in each) while Smith Jr. hasn’t bested 33 yards or 7.3 points in his last two. Dallas has played bad defense against TEs, giving up the 28th-most points per game to the position (14.9) this season and have allowed two TDs in its last three games. Thielen is expected to be out and I envision a Vikings team running more than passing, yet Rudolph should benefit from his absence as the no. 1 TE. If you don’t have any other option, start him, but avoid Smith Jr.
Kyle Rudolph: Start
Irv Smith Jr.: Sit