NFL Week 9 and the NFL trade deadline kicks off with a bang as the Detroit Lions trade tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings!

This trade is following the injury to Vikings starting tight end Irv Smith that is expected to keep him out of the lineup for the next 8-to-10 weeks. 

The tight end position has been one of the more inconsistent and frustrating positions to predict this season with only the top few guys providing consistent production. With this move we now have to re-evaluate how we view Hockenson's fantasy football value moving forward as he joins the Vikings offense and figure out who will be the next man up in Detroit to fill the void left by the Hockenson trade.



What the T.J. Hockenson Trade Means for Fantasy Football and the Minnesota Vikings

In T.J. Hockenson the Vikings are landing the current TE4 in full-point PPR leagues. Those who do a little digging also understand that his current ranking is wildly inflated due to his eight-catch, 179-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Seattle Seahawks back in Week 4. No other week this season did Hockenson finish with more than four catches. No other week had he seen higher than seven targets and until this past week, where he had 80-yards receiving, he hadn't exceeded 50-yards in any week other than Week 4. The lack of production was not because Hockenson wasn't on the field however, he had an 84% snap share this season and a near 85% route participation. Basically, if Hockenson was on the field, and it was a passing play, he was out there but Jared Goff just wasn't really looking his way all too often. 

With his move to the Minnesota Vikings he will find himself as the third-option behind All-Pro receiver Justin Jefferson and red zone fiend Adam Thielen. Hockenson is a far more athletic tight end than Irv Smith and more of a pure pass catcher which made give him more opportunities to be on the field. Smith rarely played more than 60% of the Vikings offensive snaps and he wasn't always out there running routes even on passing plays. Hockenson is a tight end that you acquire to be out there trying to the catch the football. Something that may actually benefit Hockenson here is how he would be used in this Vikings offense. Irv Smith lined up in the slot almost 20% of the time while with Detroit Hockenson was in the slot just 8% of the time. With opposing defenses having to worry about Justin Jefferson down field and Adam Thielen over the middle there is certainly room, in a better offense, with a better quarterback from Hockenson to be a fantasy asset this season but those who have him rostered may need to find a replacement for Week 9 as there is a good chance he will be on a limited snap count as he familiarizes himself with the Vikings playbook.

What Does the T.J. Hockenson Trade Mean for Fantasy Football and the Detroit Lions?

With Hockenson now out of the picture in Detroit we look to see who is next on the depth chart to take his place. A quick glance looks to give the edge to Brock Wright who was undrafted last season but has averaged close to a 30% snap share per game this season. Against Dallas in Week 7 he saw his most extensive action, catching four passes for 57 yards while playing 50% of the team's offensive snaps. Behind him is 2022 5th round pick James Mitchell who has played less than 10% of snaps in three games worth of action this season. Ultimately, no tight end here is worth an immediate add off the waiver wire outside of very deep leagues where you are desperate for someone that is going to get on the field.

Realistically, this move is good for Amon-Ra St.Brown, Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond who should absorb the majority of the targets vacated by the Hockenson trade assuming the Lions don't go out and acquire a pass catching tight end.

Raymond had a big Week 8, catching three passes on four targets for 76 yards. St. Brown led the team with seven catches and 10 targets while finishing with 69-yards. Josh Reynolds saw six targets but managed only two catches for 14 yards in this contest. 

The Lions are a team that will be trailing in a ton of games and therefore should have a high volume passing offense which should stabilize the fantasy value of the receivers in this offense and potentially even increase their red zone target shares as Hockenson had a 22% red zone target share this season.



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