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Notes: T.J. Hockenson projected as a top 5 fantasy TE in 2021

Plan on drafting him early or not at all.

Los Angeles Chargers v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

One of the most exciting players on the Detroit Lions, third-year tight end T.J. Hockenson is quickly gaining notoriety at the national level. In just the last two weeks, he’s been billed one of the best players in the league under the age of 25 by an NFL.com analyst and impressed his peers at last week’s Tight End University summit of NFL tight ends. At Pride of Detroit, we believe he’s on track for another Pro Bowl season in 2021 and apparently so do you, our readers.

The recognition extends beyond the Lions fanbase, though, and Lions Wire’s Jeff Risdon scanned the fantasy projections to see what outsiders expected of the 2019 first-round pick. Checking on multiple fantasy football sites (Fantasy Pros, FTN Fantasy, NFL Analysis, Number Fire, and Fantasy Data), Risdon found almost all of them calling for Hockenson to haul in more catches for more yards than he did in his Pro Bowl season last year.

A couple of caveats on expectations are worth acknowledging. First, Risdon makes the point that these projections are over a 17-game regular season rather than the old schedule of only 16 games, but it would still be great to post the kinds of numbers that resulted in postseason honors last year. Second, as the CBS Sports Staff mentioned in their 2021 outlook for Hockenson, there will be a different quarterback throwing the ball to him this year. Whatever folks may think of Jared Goff’s abilities relative to Matthew Stafford, the fact is Goff’s also a Pro Bowl signal caller and chemistry between quarterback and tight end appears to be good from the get-go.

In spite of the roster churn on offense, the CBS Sports Staff is quite enthusiastic about Hock’s fantasy value:

After his breakout 2020, T.J. Hockenson should be drafted as a top-five tight end as early as Round 7. The truth is, we’re hopeful 2020 was just the beginning of the breakout, as Hockenson has a huge target opportunity with Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola all gone.

The Huddle’s David Dorey found Hockenson “rising in fantasy drafts,” being drafted even higher on average than CBS’ seventh-round recommendation during the summer:

The outlook for Hockenson is bright, and he’s regularly drafted as the No. 4 tight end in fantasy drafts this summer, behind only Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle. That’s translated into fifth to sixth-round selections, though his draft stock creeps higher each week as more drafters seek value in their fantasy tight end without an earlier-pick price tag.

As we see more of the new look Lions offense in action, we’ll get a better idea of how high Hockenson’s production might go. In the meantime, it is just really good to see how relaxed and confident the former Iowa Hawkeye looks these days.

Now, on to the rest of today’s Notes:

  • Jared Goff earned himself some Detroit sports street cred:

  • EA’s official Madden account posted images explaining new home field advantages for each team in the newest edition of the game. While the Detroit Lions’ advantage was kind of boring, at least it wasn’t borne out of disrespect like Washington’s “advantage.”

  • Speaking of home fields, it looks like the Chicago Bears will play their home games at Soldier Field until at least 2026. According to the Chicago Tribune (by way of Pro Football Talk), the team has an option to “affordably” break their stadium lease for $84 million in 2026.

  • Staying with the Bears, it looks like they are one of seven teams that has not yet signed a longer extension on a franchise tagged player: