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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: T.J. Hockenson No. 57

T.J. Hockenson comes in at 57 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

T.J. Hockenson #88 of the Detroit Lions lines up during the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Ford Field on October 4, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

In 2020 T.J. Hockenson ranked fifth in PPR points for tight ends. The tight end position is a weak one in fantasy football, with just a small group of elite plays, but Hockenson is set up to see consistent opportunity in 2021 which could push him solidly into the front of the second tier of fantasy tight ends.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official and often updated fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 57, T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions, TE

Hockenson had a strong 2020, as he caught 67-of-101 targets for 723 yards and six touchdowns. Amazingly those 723 yards ranked him third in tight end receiving yards. It was a distant third, as Travis Kelce finished with 1,416 yards and Darren Waller had 1,196. He was also one of only five tight ends to top 100 targets.

Competition for touches

here is where Hockenson gets his edge. The Lions let Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones go and replaced them with Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman. Last season Golladay was hurt more often than not, which helped Hockenson to Top 5 tight end usage, but Jones was still the go-to receiver. This year Hockenson won’t need to worry about Golladay or Jones and could end up leading the team in targets.

Team offensive expectations

Expectations are low for the Lions. They are firmly in tank mode after trading away Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff and draft picks. They did little to revamp their wide receiver room after losing Golladay and Jones. And they have a new coach who is paving the road to the No. 1 pick with old school football platitudes.

What’s his upside?

The Lions offense will be bad, but without strong competition for targets, Hockenson’s upside is high, especially at his position. Projecting him for under 100 targets just doesn’t make sense and that kind of usage automatically gives him Top 5 upside.

What’s his downside?

Other than injury, Hockensons’s downside is poor efficiency and lack of touchdowns in a weak offense. In non-PPR leagues, he could fall out of the Top 5 based on poor touchdown and yardage numbers, but in PPR, he should be safe even if he’s closer to the bottom than the top of his projections.

Projection

75 receptions, 105 targets, 850 yards, 7 touchdowns