Hockenson had a very good year in his second season with the Lions. Coming out of Iowa, Hockenson was supposed to be “The Next Gronk” and did not immediately live up to expectations because of injuries. In his first game as a pro, Hockenson lit NFL Twitter on fire by catching 6 passes for 131 yards and 1 touchdown against the Cardinals. The hype quickly died down as he underperformed the rest of the season. Then, in his second year as a pro, Hockenson showed people why he was drafted 8th overall and was one of the Lions’ best pass catchers. He put up career-highs as an NFL sophomore and can reach an even higher level of play in his third season as a pro. A lot of things have changed inside the Lions’ organization, but one thing is for sure, Hockenson will be ready to run over people for new quarterback Jared Goff.
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Hockenson had a career year in his second season as a pro. He shattered his rookie numbers and recorded a new high in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in a single season. Hockenson had some up and down weeks for a team that was down most of the season. Hockenson had some real headscratcher games, like his 2 catches for 18 yards and 0.8 fantasy points game against the Titans, but he also had better games, like his 14.4 game against the Falcons where he caught 5 passes for 59 yards and 1 touchdown. Hockenson is a fairly consistent scorer as in most games he averaged between 8-11 points. If all you needed from your TE position was 8 to 11 points a week, then Hockenson was your guy. He will look to improve this year in a basically brand new Lions’ team.
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I expect Hockenson to have a similar year to the one he had in 2020. And this prediction has nothing to do with Hockenson. He is the total package at the tight end position. He can block, so he is never off the field, and he can catch the ball really well using his great hands, great size, and deceptive speed. It’s the surroundings around him that I don’t trust as much. He has a new quarterback, new coach, and new receivers and all of that does not breed a recipe for success. Hockenson might be a stud, but if everyone around him stinks, then teams can double-team him and limit his fantasy numbers. Expect Hockenson to be targeted a ton in 2021.
ADP & Auction Value
ADP: 58, Rounds 4-5, TE5
Auction Value: $9
Fantasy draft experts rank Hockenson very highly despite knowing his situation in Detroit. If that doesn’t show you why people called him “Baby Gronk” coming out of college, I don’t know what will. Right now, he is behind Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Darren Waller, and Mark Andrews because all of those guys are in better offensive situations. But he is still ahead of great fantasy tight ends Mike Gesicki and fellow Iowa tight end, Noah Fant, because of his incredible physical skills. I expect a lot of targets to be thrown Hockenson’s way this season which could lead to a lot of points for fantasy owners.
T.J. Hockenson ia going to ball out man!! New baby Gronk.
— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) April 26, 2019
The issue with Hockenson is going to be his past injuries and the people he plays with on offense. Hockenson has already suffered from a concussion and an ankle sprain in his short career in the NFL. Those kinds of injuries don’t magically disappear and are something to keep an eye on. Also, the talent level around got much lower this offseason. Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones are gone. Replacing them are Jared Goff, Breshad Perriman, and not much else. This roster might have the worst receiving core in the league, which makes Hockenson’s job a lot harder. I also personally think Jared Goff is not good, so that will also limit Hockenson’s fantasy production. Hockenson will have some tough sledding in 2021, but he is still talented enough to carve out a TE2 position on any fantasy team.
If Jared Goff can get his act together, then Hockenson has the potential of having a great year. Hockenson has already established himself as a great receiving tight end, but he did that with Matthew Stafford. I think that Matthew Stafford is better than Jared Goff, but Goff is entering the prime of his career while Stafford has exited his. Goff has huge potential to prove himself with a fresh start in Detroit, and I bet that Hockenson is quickly going to become his favorite target. The ceiling for Hockenson is not very high, because of all of the changes around him, so expect him to remain in the top 10 of fantasy tight ends.
Detroit Lions Offense
The Detroit offense has done a complete overhaul this offseason. They have traded their longtime franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford and have also lost two dynamic receivers in Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. Not all hope is lost in Detroit though, as they swapped quarterbacks with the Rams and obtained Jared Goff. They also have a promising young and speedy running back in D’Andre Swift and the new face of the offense, tight end T.J. Hockenson. The Lions are sparse for talent in their receiving core as their top wide receivers are Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. They did obtain their anchor on the offensive line by drafting top tackle Penei Sewell with their first pick. The problem with the Lions is that they are going to give enough time for Jared Goff to throw, the issue is that they have no one to throw to. Dan Campell better find answers fast or we could see another struggling season for a team that finished with the 12th fewest points and 13th fewest yards in the NFL last season.
Strength of Schedule
If things weren’t challenging enough for the Lions, they also have the 6th hardest schedule heading into the 2021 season. This is because they have to play their longtime rivals the Packers, Bears, and Vikings twice a year, but also new enemies like the NFC West, AFC North, Eagles, Broncos, and Falcons. This sucks as a Lions fan because the NFC West and the AFC North are the two hardest divisions in football. These two divisions have 7 teams that can reasonably make the playoffs like the Ravens, Browns, Steelers, Seahawks, Rams, Cardinals, and 49ers. Looking at the schedule, I can only see 4 or 5 wins in their schedule. I think that can only beat the Eagles, Falcons, Broncos, Bengals, and maybe a game against the Bears. I am not guaranteeing that those games are wins, but that’s probably their best shot to get a win. Other than that, they are playing playoff team after playoff team every week. I hate to say it, but the Lions are not going to the playoffs and will get another top 10 draft pick in the 2022 draft.
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