August 18 update: Smith is on track to return for Week 1, per Adam Schefter.
August 2 update: Irv Smith Jr. has suffered a thumb injury in training camp and underwent surgery Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports, with the potential that he could be available for the season opener.
Irv Smith Jr. could be the next great Minnesota Vikings tight end. The 6 ft. 2 Alabama product was drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He played in both 2019 and 2020 before tearing his meniscus in the final preseason game in 2021. Smith was sidelined the entire season and is looking ahead to making his return in 2022.
Irv Smith Jr.’s injury
Injury suffered: Torn MCL (knee)
When it happened: August 27, 2021
He suffered the injury in the final preseason game ahead of the 2021 season. The Vikings were playing the Kansas City Chiefs. Initially, the prognosis was that he would miss five months. Smith missed the entire season but is reported to be healthy heading into the near year.
Latest news ahead of training camp
New head coach Kevin O’Connell confirmed on Tuesday, July 26 that Smith Jr. would have no limitations heading into training camp. He is entering his age-24 season and has a chance to break out in the new Vikings offense. This will be the final year of his rookie contract.
2022 Fantasy football outlook
Smith Jr. is being drafted as the TE14 in half-PPR scoring formats at FantasyPros. For reference, that has him going just behind Cole Kmet and before Robert Tonyan. Smith Jr. has maxed out playing in 13 games and had 30 receptions for 365 yards and five touchdowns. He has always played behind someone on the depth chart, but this season will be the TE1 on the Vikings. He will be the third or fourth target in the passing game behind wide receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson and running back Dalvin Cook. He’s a decent late-round flier, but you better have a stacked roster if you run him as your main tight end all year.