As fantasy football draft season kicks into high gear, one of the toughest positions to evaluate is tight end. Beyond the top few elite options like Travis Kelce and George Kittle, there is a lot of debate around the next tier of tight ends. Two players in that next tier who are sure to spark plenty of draft room debates are T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews.
Both Hockenson and Andrews have proven they can put up big numbers, but they took different paths to get there. Andrews has been a model of consistency with Lamar Jackson in Baltimore, while Hockenson broke out last season after being traded to Minnesota. The question fantasy owners everywhere are asking is – which one should you draft as your TE1 in 2023?
Background on T.J. Hockenson
T.J. Hockenson was drafted 8th overall by the Detroit Lions in 2019. He made an immediate impact as a rookie, catching 32 passes for 367 yards and 2 touchdowns in 12 games. In 2020, he took a big step forward with 67 receptions for 723 yards and 6 touchdowns, earning his first Pro Bowl nod.
Hockenson’s numbers dipped a bit in 2021 to 61/583/4 as Detroit struggled offensively. Through 7 games with the Lions in 2022, he had just 26 catches before being traded to the Vikings at the deadline. The change of scenery did Hockenson a world of good, as he put up 60/519/3 in just 10 games with Minnesota.
Now entering his 5th NFL season at age 26, Hockenson finally looks poised to join the elite tight ends. Playing with Kirk Cousins in Minnesota’s high-powered passing offense, Hockenson should see plenty of opportunities to produce big numbers.
Background on Mark Andrews
Mark Andrews has been a focal point of Baltimore’s offense ever since entering the league in 2018. He has increased his targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns each of the past three seasons. Andrews went nuclear in 2021, catching 107 balls for 1,361 yards and 9 touchdowns – a historic season for a tight end.
While his 2022 numbers came back down to earth (73/847/5 in 15 games), Andrews proved he can be a top fantasy tight end. Having Lamar Jackson’s trust in the passing game, along with a lack of high-end receiving options in Baltimore, ensures Andrews will remain heavily involved.
Now entering his 5th season at age 27, Andrews hopes to replicate his monster 2021 performance. With new offensive coordinator Todd Monken looking to improve the Ravens’ passing attack, Andrews should see plenty of chances to make plays in 2022.
Here is a table comparing the actual 2022 stats for T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews:
|Yards Per Reception
This table shows the actual production for both tight ends in 2022. Hockenson played in 2 more games but still outpaced Andrews in targets, receptions and receiving yards. Andrews had a slight edge in yards per reception and scored one more touchdown.
But overall, Hockenson was the superior fantasy producer. This illustrates why I believe Hockenson has more upside entering 2023 based on what he showed this past season after being traded to Minnesota.
At first glance, Andrews wins handily based on his massive 2021 numbers. Andrews’ stats are skewed by that historic season. When comparing just 2022, it was much closer:
Hockenson actually outpaced Andrews in targets, receptions, and yards in 2022. Andrews scored one more touchdown, but the overall fantasy production was nearly identical.
Here is a table comparing the projected 2023 stats for T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews:
|Yards Per Reception
This table illustrates my projection that Hockenson will outproduce Andrews in key stats like receptions, yards, and touchdowns in 2023. I’m forecasting a more featured role for Hockenson in Minnesota’s high-powered offense compared to Andrews, who has more competition for targets in Baltimore.
While it’s very close, you can see I’m anticipating Hockenson to take the next step and finish as the TE3 overall behind Kelce and Kittle. Drafting him as your TE1 gives you elite upside at a discount cost compared to the top tight ends.
Opportunity and Situation in 2023
Both Hockenson and Andrews have clear paths to elite production in 2023. Here is a breakdown of their projected opportunity and situation:
- Playing with Kirk Cousins in high-volume Vikings offense
- Will be top 2 option in passing game behind Justin Jefferson
- Talented young WRs will prevent defense from focusing on him
- Offense should be among NFL’s leaders in pass attempts
- Has great chemistry with Cousins based on 2022 finish
- Opportunity for 100+ targets and heavy red zone usage
- Has Lamar Jackson’s trust and figures to remain focal point of passing attack
- Ravens hired new OC Todd Monken to improve pass game
- Lack of elite WR options gives Andrews massive target share
- Could push for 30%+ target share like in 2021
- Will be top red zone threat on an offense that should score often
- Opportunity for 120+ targets if Ravens pass volume increases
Both players have a clear path to elite fantasy production in 2023. Andrews has a slight edge in projected volume based on his history as the go-to option for Jackson. But Hockenson has the better QB and surrounding offensive talent.
Draft T.J. Hockenson as Your TE1
It’s very close between Andrews and Hockenson for 2023. Both have proven they can produce as elite fantasy tight ends. However, I give the slight edge to T.J. Hockenson for several reasons:
- Younger player entering prime at age 26
- Has massive target upside in Vikings offense
- Outproduced Andrews when comparing just 2022
- Has less competition for targets than Andrews
- Kirk Cousins supports TEs more than Lamar Jackson
- Hockenson’s arrow still pointing up, while Andrews may have peaked
Drafting Hockenson ahead of Andrews does come with some risk, as Andrews’ production is safer based on his history. But in fantasy football, you often have to chase upside over safety, and Hockenson simply offers more upside.
Look for Hockenson to push for 100+ receptions, 1,200+ yards, and 8+ touchdowns in 2023. He is poised to finish as a top-three fantasy tight end this season. Don’t be afraid to draft T.J. Hockenson over Mark Andrews as your TE1.