One of the oldest adages in fantasy football is that you don’t ever get value from a rookie tight end. It just so rarely happens. However, we might have to start making an exception to that rule when it comes to T.J. Hockenson. The eighth overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft wasted no time introducing himself to the league last Sunday, hauling in six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown in his professional debut. It’s not like the Cardinals looked to be an easy matchup for the rookie, either. In 2018, Arizona allowed both the fewest receiving yards per game (37.4) and the fewest overall targets (83) to the position of any team in the NFC. Though those trends didn’t seem to dissuade Hockenson.
The heavy involvement of Hockenson also went directly against how the Lions segmented their passing attack for the entirety of last year. Detroit targeted its TEs on a mere 12% of passing attempts in 2018 - the lowest rate in the NFL. Still, you could attribute this phenomenon to a lot of things. Most pressing, the lack of an option at the position with the offensive capabilities of Hockenson. Additionally, the Lions have a new offensive co-ordinator in Darrell Bevell, so any unrest you might have about Detroit reverting back to its old tendencies in Week 2 can be put to the side. Hockenson played 64 of the Lions’ 88 offensive snaps and ran a route on 64.1% of those opportunities. He’s going to be a mainstay in the game plan.
Fantasy Impact: It truly takes so little to be a viable candidate at tight end that even a version of Hockenson that regresses to the mean should have a shot at finishing Top-10 at the position this weekend. His mix of expected volume, upside, and pedigree is a welcomed sight at the position.