Fantasy football player profile: T.J. Hockenson


(As fantasy football dives headlong into draft season, some players warrant a little extra attention. All August, Dom Cintorino and Adam Pfeifer will do deep dives into some of the notable names. Follow along with our player profiles series. Today’s profile: T.J. Hockenson)

Fantasy Football Value 2021 – T.J. Hockenson

T.J. Hockenson, a former top-10 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, was one of the many tight ends who struggled as a rookie. Even Hockenson, who was one of the highest-regarded tight end prospects in quite some time, was underwhelming as a rookie. Back in 2019, he caught 32 balls for just 367 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 12 games played. However, he turned it up a notch in his second season. Last year, Hockenson finished as fantasy football’s TE4 in 0.5 PPR with 141.8 fantasy points. This was behind just Travis Kelce (260.3), Darren Waller (225.1) and Robert Tonyan (150.6). While it’s quite the dropoff from the top two tight ends, it was good to see what Hockenson is able to do given the opportunity. 

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Hockenson was able to turn his 101 targets into 67 receptions, 723 yards and 6 touchdowns. He started out the year scoring four touchdowns in his first six games, and then had just two in his final 10. Even though he was able to suit up in all 16 games, Hockenson failed to turn in a single 100-yard receiving game. He got past the 80-yard mark in back-to-back weeks (Weeks 12 and 13), but that was it. From Week 8 through the end of the season, Hockenson had the fourth-most targets (70) and receptions (45) among tight ends. During this time, he also had the third-most receiving yards (467). The expectation is for him to carry this momentum into his third season.

The chart below is from FTN Fantasy’s advanced receiving stats from the 2020 season. Filtering the table by target share among the Lions’ receiving options, Hockenson’s 17.91% was good for second on the team. He was just 14 targets shy of Marvin Jones (115), but the two saw a large share of the total targets. When comparing this percentage to tight ends across the league, Hockenson ranked sixth. There were four tight ends in 2020 that saw a target share greater than 20%. Hockenson should have no problem pushing his way into that 20-25% target share range. 

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Considering the options in the Lions’ wide receivers room, Hockenson is primed to see an uptick in volume. With the departure of both Jones and Kenny Golladay this offseason, this is an extremely below-average unit. The Lions brought in veteran wide receivers Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman, who will likely serve as two of the primary options. They also used their fourth-round pick in this year’s draft to bring in USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. This has the feel of the Las Vegas Raiders roster from the preseason a year ago, and not because of Tyrell Williams being the WR1 — both teams had/have a tight end on the cusp of a breakout as the clear No. 1 option in the offense. I had Darren Waller pegged as the target leader in Vegas before the season last year as I do Hockenson in Detroit this year. Obviously, Waller went on to be the TE2 and lead all tight ends in target share (27.81%). Is Hockenson just going to walk in and replicate what Waller did in 2020? Probably not. But he is in a favorable spot on a team that should be trailing in a majority of their games.

Hockenson had the second-lowest average depth of target (7.03 yards) of all tight ends who saw more than 100 targets on the season. However, Hockenson shined after the catch. His 329 yards after the catch were the fourth-most among tight ends. This stat is always telling, especially at the tight end position. Having a player like Hockenson who can make a play after the catch goes a long way. Especially if we see a slight increase with his aDOT. If that is the case, it won’t be a result of the quarterback change, as Jared Goff’s aDOT (6.53 yards) wasn’t all that close to Matthew Stafford’s (8.64). It would likely be a change in his role, as Hockenson becomes more involved in the passing game. 

Fantasy Football ADP Stock Watch – T.J. Hockenson

FTN Fantasy’s ADP tool currently has Hockenson being drafted as the TE6. His ADP of 54.72 pushes him right near the middle of the fifth round. While his ADP is pretty similar across the board, it peaks over on Yahoo at 50.10 (TE4). While it’s only a four-spot difference from Yahoo to the FTN consensus ADP, it still pushes him up past two other tight ends in the process. At this point in August, I don’t see his stock rising or falling a whole lot. There was talk about Hockenson missing time due to an “undisclosed injury,” but it doesn’t seem to be significant. If anything more were to come about this, we could see it fall, but Hockenson is safe right in that mid-50 range. 

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NFL Fantasy Football Ranking – T.J. Hockenson

Another player profile, another player I’m higher than everyone else on. One of my boldest rankings across all positions is where I have Hockenson. In the PPR rankings on FTN Fantasy, I currently have Hockenson as my second overall tight end, and I’m not willing to move him. Hockenson is the consensus TE4 across the board, as most of the FTN Fantasy analysts have him ranked right at TE4. Both Jeff Ratcliffe and Kyle Murray have him ranked as their TE6, which is the lowest of the bunch. There is a clear top-six tight ends, as both Jeff and Kyle had Kyle Pitts and Mark Andrews ranked ahead of Hockenson. 

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