Heading into a pivotal year of his career, will Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson finally break out in a big way for fantasy in 2022?
It took one game for T.J. Hockenson to make his presence felt in the NFL. In his debut against the Arizona Cardinals back in Week 1 of the 2019 season, Hockenson brought in six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. At that moment, the Detroit Lions certainly felt like they had landed a premier talent.
But since that historic debut, Hockenson has failed to register another 100-yard game. He just hasn’t yet broken into the upper echelon of NFL tight ends.
Heading into his fourth season in the league Hockenson is looking to change that narrative, especially with a contract extension on the horizon.
So what does that mean for fantasy managers? Is this the year the breakout finally arrives?
T.J. Hockenson 2022 fantasy outlook
Last season was supposed to be Hockenson’s full-on emergence, with the Lions so thin at wide receiver, and it started out on a promising note. In Week 1 he had eight catches for 97 yards and a score, and he followed in Week 2 with eight receptions for 66 yards and another touchdown.
It turns out that being one of the only real receiving threats on a bad offense made it easy for opposing defenses to take Hockenson away. Over 10 games from Week 3-Week 13, Hockenson cleared 50 receiving yards just three times with two touchdowns total. Then he missed the final five games with a thumb injury.
Hockenson clearly has rapport with Jared Goff, and the Lions’ infusion of offensive talent should allow more room for the Lions’ No. 1 tight end to operate. With that, though, comes the possibility of a lighter target share and/or inconsistent target shares week-to-week.
Considering he is going in the back end of the sixth round based on ADP, it’s hard to recommend Hockenson when there will be so much wide receiver talent available in that range.
If Hockenson slides to the seventh or eighth round it may be worth taking him, in the second tier of tight ends below the elites (TE7 by Fantasy Pros ADP). But there are too many variables to inspire a lot of confidence he’ll reach another level this year, and there’s more downside risk than might be easily seen.