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Vikings T.J. Hockenson will be one of fantasy football’s best tight ends in 2023

A full season in Minnesota could do wonders.

When it comes to fantasy football, getting a solid tight end on your roster is like having an extra player against most opponents. The number of tight ends who are potential difference makers is pretty small, and most weeks you’ll be facing an opponent that can’t match you at that spot if you get a good one.

Today, we’re going to take a look at one particular tight end who could find himself moving up the ranks not only among fantasy football tight ends, but in the league in general.

Last season at the NFL trade deadline, the Minnesota Vikings made an in-division swap with the Detroit Lions to acquire tight end T.J. Hockenson. All Hockenson did after that in 10 games with Minnesota is catch 60 passes for 519 yards and three scores. Combined with his time in Detroit, he finished the 2022 season with more receptions and receiving yardage than any tight end in the league not named Travis Kelce, which is pretty darn good.

So, how could a full season in the Minnesota offense propel Hockenson even higher?

Hockenson is clearly a favorite target of quarterback Kirk Cousins, and his athletic ability gives him the ability to both get open and make contested catches. Considering that opposing defensive coordinators will primarily have to keep their focus on Justin Jefferson, Hockenson should have room to roam through opposing defenses. He should also be able to serve as the Vikings’ primary red zone threat when the team gets down close, which should help to enhance his touchdown number significantly as well. Hockenson has never had more than six touchdown catches in a season, but he certainly has the ability to collect more.

Of course, one of the things that works against Hockenson in this regard is the fact that the Vikings have a ton of other options. We’ve already talked about Jefferson, but we also need to remember that K.J. Osborn has earned his fair share of targets and that the team drafted Jordan Addison in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft to, ostensibly, replace Adam Thielen in the offense. With all of those different options for Cousins to find down near the goal stripe, Hockenson’s production could suffer a bit, though he will certainly get his share of opportunities.

Last year, Hockenson finished the year with a total of 86 receptions for 914 yards and three touchdowns. Could he become just the second tight end in Vikings’ history to break the 1,000-yard mark in a season? He definitely has the ability to do it, and I believe he’ll threaten that mark in 2023.

If you do take Hockenson and are concerned about injuries, you might also want to take a look at one of the newest Vikings in Josh Oliver. Oliver was the first player that the Vikings signed in free agency, and even though the book on him is that he’s primarily a blocker at the position, he has the athletic ability to be a threat in the passing game as well. He’s a big body at 6’5 and 250 pounds, and if something were to happen to Hockenson during the course of the season he would likely be the guy the Vikings would put into Hockenson’s role. I’m not sure if he’d be as productive as a healthy Hockenson would be, but the contract the Vikings gave him this offseason suggests that they have something more in mind for him than just in-line blocking.

Last season. T.J. Hockenson proved to be one of the best in-season trades that the Vikings have made in team history. Now, as he prepares for his first full season in purple, this could be the year that he establishes himself among the best tight ends in the NFL, and you’ll want to get him on your fantasy squad if you have the opportunity.