The NFL needs tight ends. Your dynasty fantasy football teams need tight ends. T.J. Hockenson is a really good tight end.
The NFL is really lacking tight ends that produce consistently in the receiving game. With the NFL consistently moving more and more toward the passing game, the NFL needs more tight ends that can catch the football. I’m sure if you are tight-end-needy in any of your dynasty teams, you see how sparse the top-end production is at the position. If you have a player like Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, or George Kittle in dynasty, you understand how valuable that is.
This tight end class is really good at the top end. Similar to the draft a couple of years ago with OJ Howard, Evan Engram, and David Njoku, as well as George Kittle a little further down the board, this class is going to give us some really high-quality tight ends. With the lack of fantasy production at the position, people need to be drafting these tight ends, and they are lasting typically until the end of the first round.
I understand that this is typically where tight ends end up in rookie drafts, but the need for productive tight ends is real in both the NFL and your dynasty leagues, and your dynasty rookie drafts are not accounting for that yet.
T.J. Hockenson is the best tight end in this class. Some people will argue for Noah Fant, and I will entertain those arguments. Some people will even argue for Irv Smith, and I think that’s a valid opinion to have but for me, T.J. Hockenson is the clear player to get from both an NFL standpoint and a dynasty standpoint.
Formerly, it had been a widely-held opinion that Noah Fant was the electric receiving tight end from Iowa’s offense, and T.J. Hockenson was more of the blocking tight end. That started to branch off into the belief that Noah Fant can’t block and that T.J. Hockenson isn’t a great pass catcher.
Neither of those things are true, and the dynasty and NFL Draft communities have closed the gaps on their evaluations of those areas.
Both tight ends are pretty well rounded, and neither project to be stuck in a role where they are strictly a receiving tight end or strictly a blocking tight end. Both will receive first-round draft capital, and both will be utilized in the blocking and receiving aspects of the position.
So what separates them as dynasty fantasy football assets?
T.J. Hockenson is a more polished player, even as a receiver. This may be considered blasphemy by some, but I think that at this very moment, T.J. Hockenson is a better receiving tight end than Noah Fant. Sure, Noah Fant has a higher ceiling as a receiver due to his insane athleticism, but he has further to go to be an immediate to top-end-producer in the NFL.
Noah Fant needs to work on his route running. He did a lot of different things in college, but his elite athleticism made it easy for him to get lazy in his technique and round out of his breaks and still succeed at that level. He is still going to be able to win with athleticism at the NFL level, but he isn’t going to be able to do it as consistently as he did in college.
He needs to be a stronger route runner to find his way into the top tiers of tight ends at the NFL level. Does he have the athletic traits to do that? Absolutely. Is it going to be an immediate transition? Probably not. In the meantime, he will continue to find ways to win with his athleticism, but at a much lower rate than he was able to win in college.
T.J. Hockenson, while not the athletic freak that Noah Fant is, is an excellent athlete in his own right, and he is a far more polished route runner. He does a good job of separating with physicality at the top of his routes. He runs crisp out of his breaks and shows impressive attention to detail that just doesn’t show up in Noah Fant’s tape.
T.J. Hockenson has better hands than Noah Fant.
Don’t get me wrong, they both have fantastic hands. They both catch the ball away from their frame very well. They both catch the ball well through contact. There aren’t any hands issues here, but I think that T.J. Hockenson just has stronger hands and better hand placement. He “plucks” the ball out of the air better than Noah Fant in my opinion. This is splitting hairs, but the important part to note here is that Hockenson catches the ball at least as well as Fant, something that is not a consensus opinion right now.
Finally, Hockenson is clearly the better blocker. Fant isn’t bad in this area, but he isn’t on Hockenson’s level. Many people will give the advantage to Fant here because they believe that he will be used less as a blocker, but I don’t think that teams are going to be dictating whether they are passing or running based on their tight end’s skill set too often. Hockenson is not going to be limited in his pass catching reps simply because he is a strong blocker. If anything, I think that his ability as a blocker is going to make it very hard for offensive coordinators to take him off the field.
I don’t know that you can go wrong with either of these tight ends, but I want T.J. Hockenson on my dynasty fantasy football rosters. The better part? Noah Fant is going earlier in rookie drafts than T.J. Hockenson. I’d love to be able to select T.J. Hockenson as the second tight end off the board, with a projection for early steady production that may eventually rank him among the elite tight ends in the NFL.