He probably isn’t easily benched this week, Week 1, but Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson is an absolute must-start in fantasy against the Eagles.
Given where he was drafted, in the early-middle rounds just below the top tier of tight ends, a lot of T.J. Hockenson’s fantasy owners are probably starting him without much question in Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But there is a chance the Lions’ tight end is one of two viable options at the position on many fantasy rosters, which will lead to a weekly decision and certainly a decision in Week 1. With that in mind, Hockenson’s outlook is better than you might think.
Last year’s game against the Eagles was a forgettable one for the Lions as a team–a 44-6 blowout as Philadelphia ran for over 230 yards and Detroit only saved themselves from being shut out with a fourth quarter touchdown.
It was a true turning point in the 2021 season for the Lions.
That makes it easy to forget about what Hockenson did. He had 10 catches on 11 targets in that game, albeit for a relatively dismal 89 yards. Still, he was the TE1 for the week (Week 8) in 0.5-point PPR scoring.
The Eagles allowed the most receptions (107) and touchdowns (14) to tight ends last season, as well as the third-most targets (138) and the sixth-most yards (1,035).
Fantasy Football: T.J. Hockenson is a must-start vs. the Eagles in Week 1
The addition of wide receiver DJ Chark and Amon-Ra St. Brown being a factor from the beginning changes Hockenson’s circumstance entering the new season.
The matchup may also be more challenging this time around against Philadelphia, with the Eagles upgrading at safety with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and adding an above-average coverage linebacker in Kyzir White. One of those guys will surely be assigned to cover Hockenson regularly on Sunday.
Still, Hockenson may find himself peppered with targets from Jared Goff as the Lions’ already banged-up offensive line (right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai on IR with a back injury) tries to keep a formidable Eagles’ defensive line at bay.
Hockenson’s contested catch rate last year, as he lapped the tight end field, speaks for itself and reduces concern about potentially improved coverage on him.
Shy of the obvious starts at the top of the fantasy tight end heap, Hockenson is going to be startable most weeks just based on a prominent role in the Lions’ offense.
But in Week 1, he’s got sneaky potential to be a top-five fantasy tight end on the week. If there’s any question about starting him this week, over comparable or even lower-ranked options who can be seen with rose-colored glasses, there shouldn’t be.