Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions
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With the NFL trade deadline looming and the Vikings having lost starting tight end Irv Smith to a high-ankle sprain in Week 8, they swung a rare in-division trade with the Lions Tuesday, acquiring T.J. Hockenson in a deal that sees multiple draft picks move back and forth between the teams. The Vikings sent a 2023 second-round pick and a 2024 fourth-rounder to the Lions, with the Vikings receiving a pair of fourth-rounders back along with the former first-round pick.

It's a big deal for the Vikings, who have embraced a more pass-heavy approach under new coach Kevin O'Connell and are in the pole position for a playoff spot at 6-1, in first place in the NFC North. However, for Fantasy purposes, it probably doesn't represent a substantial change in how we should be viewing Hockenson's value moving forward. 

Hockenson is the No. 5 tight end in points per game, but that's pretty heavily skewed by one massive performance – his eight-catch, 179-yard, two-touchdown game in Week 4. Otherwise, he has topped 10 PPR points just twice in five other games. He's been a viable starting option at the tight end position for Fantasy in Detroit, but not necessarily one you can truly rely on every week, and I'm guessing he'll probably be the same in Minnesota.

To be clear, I think he's a better player than Smith, and should command more than Smith's 13% target share. He was at 18% in Detroit, and I think that's probably a fair expectation for him in the long run in Minnesota. He's got more competition for targets from Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen than he had in Detroit, but I think he should be right around Thielen in target share – they'll probably both be in the 18-20% range. That's where Hockenson has settled over the past few seasons despite the competition around him, so it seems pretty safe to assume that's where he'll remain.

I plugged in a 19% target share for Hockenson into my projections along with a 67% catch rate and 11.0 yards per reception -- he's at 65% and 11.1, respectively, for his career, and he came out to TE6 for the rest of the season -- well behind the Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert, and George Kittle group, but in the same range as Pat Freiermuth, Kyle Pitts, Dalton Schultz, and Greg Dulcich. Which is pretty much where he's been all season. That's where I expect him to end up in Minnesota, though I'd probably push him more to the front end of that group. 

Again, in the long run.

For Week 9 against the Commanders, it might be tougher for him to get there. He'll have three days of practice to get up to speed in the offense, assuming he reports in time for Wednesday and should be active. But he may not be fully up to speed in time to play a full snap share, so it's harder to say he'll get enough targets to be worth trusting in Fantasy for this week. 

That being said, this is a better offense than the one he's leaving behind, with an upgrade at QB and less defensive attention focused on Hockenson. It's not unreasonable to think we could see an increase in efficiency from Hockenson, something he has historically struggled with in Detroit. Something like 4.5 receptions and 50-ish yards per game seems like a fair assumption moving forward, with a decent chance to score a touchdown every week should keep Hockenson in the TE5-7 range in his new home. I'll rank him a little lower than that in Week 9 given the quick turnaround, but if you've been starting him so far, you should probably keep starting him, both this week and moving forward.

As for the impact on the Lions, I'll be interested to see if rookie fifth-rounder James Mitchell can get more opportunities moving forward. He's got a decent athletic profile and his 435-yard career-high in college is more impressive than it seems – he did that in nine games on a team that only passed for 2,207 yards. That's not bad, and he might have gone higher in the draft if not for a season-ending knee injury in 2021. He's not someone most Fantasy players need to know about, but he's worth keeping an eye on if he gets an expanded role for the Lions moving forward.