TJ Hockenson Lands In Strong Fantasy Spot With Matt Patricia's Lions - Roto Street Journal
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TJ Hockenson Lands In Strong Fantasy Spot With Matt Patricia’s Lions

Now that Rob Gronkowski has retired, we’re going to have to hear every year about which guy is the “next Gronk.” Truthfully, nobody will ever really be the next Gronk, but in the 2019 draft class, TJ Hockenson is the safest bet. In a season in which he took home the Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight end, Hockenson caught 49 passes for 760 yards and 6 TDs, all on an Iowa team that ran the ball on almost 53% of their snaps in the defense-happy Big 10. The Gronk comparisons don’t just stem from Hockenson’s superb athleticism and great hands — he’s also a fantastic blocker with the ability to physically overpower defensive players at the line of scrimmage. He should step in immediately on a Detroit team that can certainly use a weapon of his caliber.

The Lions did just sign Jesse James to a 4-year, $25 million (11M guaranteed) deal this offseason, which could theoretically interfere with Hockenson’s development. However, Hockenson’s Iowa team used the 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE) on 20% of their snaps in 2018 and in the majority of their medium-to-long yardage situations, utilizing the formation as a way to get Hockenson and Noah Fant on the field at the same time. The same formation with James and Hockenson could be a great way to get both guys some reps while integrating the rookie into the pro game, especially early in the 2019 season.

Matt Patricia clearly missed his boy Gronk, as he tried to trade for him last offseason and now used the 8th overall pick to take a guy he hopes will be Gronk 2.0. Patricia has remarked in the days following the draft that the NFL is “always moving towards the tight end position,” adding, “That’s the mismatch everyone’s trying to figure out.” Hockenson may not be the next Gronk right away, but his head coach clearly plans on giving him the opportunity to be the weapon that the Lions — and fantasy owners — think he can be.

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