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A year ago, we told you to make T.J. Hockenson a draft priority. The immensely talented Detroit Lion was coming off a forgettable rookie season, and fickle draftniks were treating him like a bust. We showed you the historical performances of the league’s all-time best tight ends and noted their rookie seasons looked eerily like Hockenson’s.
Hopefully, you heeded our advice last year. Hockenson was the 14th tight end drafted, on average. He finished as the No. 5 fantasy tight end behind only Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Logan Thomas, and Robert Tonyan Jr.
Top 10 Fantasy Tight Ends, 2020
|1||Travis Kelce KC||15||105||1416||13.5||11||312.8|
|2||Darren Waller LV||16||107||1195||11.2||9||280.5|
|3||Logan Thomas WAS||16||72||670||9.3||6||176.9|
|4||Robert Tonyan Jr Jr GB||16||52||586||11.3||11||176.6|
|5||T.J. Hockenson DET||16||67||723||10.8||6||175.3|
|6||Mark Andrews BAL||14||58||701||12.1||7||170.1|
|7||Mike Gesicki MIA||15||53||703||13.3||6||159.3|
|8||Rob Gronkowski TB||16||45||623||13.8||7||149.3|
|9||Hayden Hurst ATL||16||56||571||10.2||6||149.1|
|10||Dalton Schultz DAL||16||63||615||9.8||4||148.5|
While last year’s TEX ranking more than paid for the draft-day cost, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is the year Hockenson goes from every-week fantasy starter to fantasy league winner.
Only Two Tight Ends were Difference Makers in 2020
You'll note only Travis Kelce (312.8) and Darren Waller (280.5) meaningfully exceeded the baseline in the table above. Four tight ends scored between 170 and 180 PPR points, and another ten players scored at least 140 points. On a per-game basis, the tight end pool was deep but flat.
Top 20 Fantasy Tight Ends, Points-per-Game, 2020
|1||Travis Kelce KC||15||105||1416||13.5||11||20.9|
|2||Darren Waller LV||16||107||1195||11.2||9||17.5|
|3||George Kittle SF||8||48||634||13.2||2||15.6|
|4||Mark Andrews BAL||14||58||701||12.1||7||12.2|
|5||Logan Thomas WAS||16||72||670||9.3||6||11.1|
|6||Robert Tonyan Jr Jr GB||16||52||586||11.3||11||11.0|
|7||T.J. Hockenson DET||16||67||723||10.8||6||11.0|
|8||Mike Gesicki MIA||15||53||703||13.3||6||10.6|
|9||Dallas Goedert PHI||11||46||524||11.4||3||10.6|
|10||Hunter Henry LAC||14||60||613||10.2||4||10.4|
|11||Noah Fant DEN||15||62||673||10.9||3||9.8|
|12||Eric Ebron PIT||15||56||558||10||5||9.5|
|13||Jonnu Smith TEN||15||41||448||10.9||8||9.3|
|14||Rob Gronkowski TB||16||45||623||13.8||7||9.3|
|15||Hayden Hurst ATL||16||56||571||10.2||6||9.3|
|16||Dalton Schultz DAL||16||63||615||9.8||4||9.3|
|17||Jimmy Graham CHI||16||50||456||9.1||8||9.0|
|18||Evan Engram NYG||16||63||654||10.4||1||8.9|
|19||Austin Hooper CLE||13||46||435||9.5||4||8.7|
|20||Jared Cook NO||15||37||504||13.6||7||8.6|
George Kittle joins the elite camp on a per-game basis – he missed half the season but was his usual self (15.6 fantasy points), and Mark Andrews moves into the Top 5. But beyond those four, it’s tightly bunched from No. 5 Logan Thomas (11.1 points) to No. 21 Tyler Higbee (8.4 points). You might argue there’s a big difference between 11.1 points and 8.4 points per game, but that's within the statistical noise in a weekly head-to-head setting. A touchdown catch vaults the 8.4 point-per-game player into a Top 5 finish, while the lack of a touchdown drops the 11.1 point player out of the Top 12 for the week. It’s a game of inches.
Hockenson Will Rise Out of the Crowded Pack
- Hockenson is as skilled as any tight end in the league
- He’s entering his prime
- New head coach Dan Campbell is a former tight end and tight ends coach
- New offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn values tight ends in the passing game
- Detroit will field a top-10 offensive line
- New quarterback Jared Goff loves throwing to short- and intermediate routes
- The Lions wide receivers are uninspiring
Elite Traits and Entering his Prime
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