Week 4 came and went in the National Football League and Tight End U had a good week. Let’s go!
T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant
Let’s start with Noah Fant and Seattle’s visit to Detroit for a date with his old Iowa running mate, T.J. Hockenson. You look at Fant’s line of 1 reception on 1 target for 2 yards and you think, “OMG this guy is going to be wasted in Seattle with this rebuild.” And that’s probably right. He’s stuck on a team that should be run-first right now (they’re averaging 5.2 yards per carry; maybe run more??) and with a quarterback situation that can only be described as “doo doo.”
That 1 reception though? FOR A TOUCHDOWN. Fant is on the board! That’s now 10 receptions for 56 yards and 1 touchdown on the season. It’s still a slow start, but it’s good to see him on the board.
Hockenson was experiencing a similarly slow start to the season and I highlighted it last week. Through 3 games, Hockenson had just 10 receptions for 82 yards and a score. He landed that lone touchdown in Week 3, Detroit’s 28-24 loss to Minnesota.
Hockenson used that as a spring board into this week, where he turned into a goddamn missile. Hockenson was unguardable, snagging 8 receptions on 12 targets for a career-high 179 yards and 2 touchdowns. Here’s touchdown #1:
He then added a second score in a frantic fourth quarter that saw Detroit claw back to within 3 after his second touchdown.
This was Hockenson’s first 100-yard game since he went for 6-131-1 in a 27-27 tie with Arizona on September 8, 2019 (Hockenson’s first NFL game). I’ll raise my hand and say I’m one of those dorks that has Hockenson on his fantasy team and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Of course, Detroit is gonna Detroit again - the Lions had 520 yards of total offense, they averaged almost 8 yards per play, but the defense completely collapsed and gave up 555 yards on almost 9 yards per play. Seattle had 9 drives, total, and scored 48 points. That’s SO Detroit - a huge offensive day and they lose, 48-45.
Honorable mention: Matt Nelson
Not a tight end of course, but with Seattle and Detroit playing, we can’t forget Nelson. Nelson played 15 snaps as Detroit’s utility lineman. He’s in that “good story” category, a guy that looked to be going to grad school, got bigger, and now he’s playing as an offensive lineman in the NFL, converting from defensive tackle. That’s awesome and deserves praise here, even if this is tight end-centric.
Another in the “good story” group, and maybe at the top of the list. Hesse didn’t light the world on fire in Atlanta’s 23-20 win over Cleveland, but it’s a hard act to follow when Hockensen and Fant each scored and Hesse is just the second tight end in Atlanta anyway. But we have to mention Hesse, a former defensive end turned tight end that has stuck in the league. He caught his only target Sunday, a 22-yard reception.
Kittle made his debut last week in San Francisco’s weird 11-10 loss in Denver. He followed that up with 2 receptions for 24 yards and his typically excellent blocking in San Francisco’s 24-9 win over the defending champion Rams in a game Kittle described as a “body bag game.” It would’ve been more, but he had a touchdown overturned on review. DAMNIT.
Broncos corner - nah. They stink. They lost in Oakland/Las Vegas again (they haven’t won away against the Raiders since 2015, when the Broncos won Super Bowl 50). I’m not necessarily surprised they lost, but it’s a game they must win if they have playoff aspirations. Just typing that sentence and including the words “playoff aspirations” with this team made me do a Kirk Ferentz snort.
But while we’re here - Josey Jewell finished with 14 tackles, 7 solo, and had a tackle for loss in Vegas. He’s having a good season after missing the first two weeks.