TJ Hockenson
(Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

TJ Hockenson Is A Lock To Finish As A Top 5 TE In 2021

The land of great fantasy tight ends is one with a small population. That population realistically consists of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and (following his tremendous 2020 season) Darren Waller. For this upcoming season, however, Detroit Lions tight end TJ Hockenson will not be too far behind this elite group and a top-five TE finish seems inevitable for him.

To start off with the obvious, there are new faces in Detroit. The team has downgraded at quarterback, going from Matt Stafford, who looks the part of a top 10 quarterback now that he is paired with coaching genius Sean McVay, to Jared Goff, who was unable to solidy his position as an above-average starting quarterback despite McVay’s presence on the team.

Alex wrote earlier about how the team’s quarterback change is a reason to fade Hockenson, but it is not an actual downgrade in the fantasy football world, especially for Hockenson. For one, Goff’s reliance on shorter throws is far more suitable for Hockenson’s playstyle than Stafford’s gunslinging was. Hockenson’s average yards traveled per target was only 7 yards last year, which suits Goff’s arm perfectly and should result in him being targeted even more than last season. Moreover, Detroit has an excellent offensive line this year, which should be benefical for Goff and therefore Hockenson as well.

New head coach Dan “Kneecap Biting” Campbell is a former tight end coach, which only adds more fantasy value to Hockenson. Campbell, having worked closely with tight ends in the past, should understand the talent Hockenson possesses and will likely look to incorporate him heavily into the offensive gameplan.

Next, couple Goff’s incompetence with a horrendous Lions defense, and the result is a laughable amount of garbage time fantasy points for Hockenson. The Lions will be behind in most of the games they play and will need to throw the ball often, which only further bolsters my confidence in Hockenson. Furthermore, if we are being honest, Quintez Cephus and Amon-Ra St. Brown are not exactly Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. The Lions lost two very capable receivers this offseason and did little to replace them, which means Hockenson is the true number one target on this offense that will be needing to throw the ball a LOT.

Now I understand that this may mean that defenses tend to focus on him more, but that is honestly a lazy reason to fade him. Sure, he will be a point of emphasis for defenses, but that does not diminish his value too much in my opinion. Do you think defenses have no idea that DK Metcalf or Tyreek Hill can play? Of course not, but they are talented enough to make an impact against defensive coverages dedicated to stopping them. TJ Hockenson is not Tyreek Hill, but he is a really talented player who will find ways to get the ball.

One of my biggest pieces of advice for this year’s draft is that if you cannot secure one of the three elite tight ends in Kelce, Kittle, and Waller, do not try and draft “sleeper” tight ends and hope they work out. It is an unlikely outcome. Instead look to get TJ Hockenson, whose value is relatively low, and save yourself a lot of stress and time on the waiver wire.

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