NFL player prop of the day: T.J. Hockenson will feast in Detroit

·3 min read

There isn't much exciting about the Detroit Lions offense these days. Gone are Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. However, even when dumpster diving, one can often find something valuable. That valuable commodity in this offense will likely be third year tight end T.J. Hockenson. 

In 2020, Hockenson caught 67 of his 101 targets for 723 yards and 6 touchdowns. Oddsmakers are predicting a slight bump for Hockenson, as his 2021 over/under for receiving yards is set at 775.5 yards at BetMGM. 

Hockenson has the pedigree

The Detroit Lions used the 8th overall pick in the 2019 draft to select Hockenson. Hockenson's high draft status caused him to draw comparisons to fellow Iowa alum George Kittle. Hockenson was also drafted ahead of fellow Hawkeye tight end Noah Fant, who went 20th overall in the same draft. At the combine, Hockenson graded out as a tremendous athlete, posting a 9.18 Relative Athletic Score

Hockenson posted 367 yards in his rookie season, but that campaign was shortened due to injury. In 2020, Hockenson nearly doubled his production by posting 723 yards. This was despite dealing with a toe injury for a good part of the season. In addition to dealing with an injury himself, his quarterback was extremely banged up. Matthew Stafford played through injuries to his thumb, elbow, rib, knee and ankle. 

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 13: T.J. Hockenson #88 of the Detroit Lions scores a 1-yard receiving touchdown during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field on December 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
T.J. Hockenson of the Detroit Lions scores a receiving touchdown during a 2020 regular season game against the Green Bay Packers. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Tight ends also tend to break out at an older age. George Kittle and Travis Kelce broke out at the age of 25. Darren Waller had his first big season at the age of 26. Hockenson just turned 24 years old, so there's plenty of room for growth in the Lions' tight end. 

The opportunity is definitely there

Here's a quick question for you: who is the number one receiver on the Lions? Is it journeyman Tyrell Williams? Is it rookie fourth round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown? Do the Lions even know the answer to this question themselves?

Anyway you slice it, the Lions receiving core is ugly. There are also questions about the health and outlook for second-year running back D'Andre Swift. The offense as a whole just offers no excitement. 

However, someone in this offense will have to get the receptions and the yards. Even the Adam Gase led New York Jets threw for over 3000 yards last season. 

Not often is the tight end the number one receiving option on a team. It wouldn't be surprising to see Hockenson command a role similar to the one of Darren Waller in Las Vegas. There simply is not much high-end NFL talent on the offensive side of the ball. 

Connections that matter

Jared Goff enters his first season as the quarterback for the Lions, after he was acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in the trade that sent Stafford to LA. Throughout training camp, it's been reported that Hockenson has been having the best summer of anyone in Detroit camp and that he's quickly established himself as Goff's number one target. 

Dan Campbell enters his first season as the Lions' head coach after spending the majority of the past 10 seasons as a tight end coach with the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints. It'll be interesting to see how the former tight end coach utilizes his top tight end. It should only help Hockenson. 

Treasure in a dumpster

The Lions are going to be bad. They have the second lowest projected win total in the league and their offense is expected to score the second fewest points in the league. However, even in a pile of garbage, one can pull out something useful.

T.J. Hockenson will be that useful asset in the Lions' offense. I'd draft him with confidence in fantasy leagues. I think he could post 100 receptions in this pitiful offense, and 775 yards should come relatively easily with volume that high. 

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