Allen Park — ESPN’s Matthew Berry came to Detroit this week waving the fantasy football banner for running back Kerryon Johnson but also throwing a little cold water on the T.J. Hockenson hype.
Berry and his crew visited Lions training camp on Tuesday, filming television and digital segments before their live podcast taping later at night.
Berry, one of the original fantasy football experts as the pastime exploded into the mainstream, remains high on Johnson in Year 2 after touting him throughout his rookie season in Detroit.
“The fantasy community is very excited about him,” Berry told The Detroit News. “And look, fantasy success comes from two things: Talent and opportunity. We know Kerryon Johnson is crazy talented, and opportunity, I think with the release of Theo Riddick, that only opens up more targets in the passing game.”
Berry, who is hosting a live taping of ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Football Podcast on Tuesday night at Saint Andrew’s Hall in Detroit, did caution that Johnson could have goal-line carries and touchdowns vultured by C.J. Anderson and Zach Zenner.
Ultimately, Johnson should get close to 20 touches a game, Berry said, labeling him a mid-tier No. 2 running back with upside for more.
However, Berry cautioned that the hype surrounding Hockenson, a rookie tight end, in training camp might not result in great production.
According to Berry, Evan Engram of the New York Giants was the only rookie to finish in the top 10 in fantasy points for tight ends. Engram accomplished the feat in 2017, which was buoyed by injuries to wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall.
“I thought Hockenson was a great player coming out of college, I think it’s a great pick for the Lions,” Berry said of the Iowa product, who was picked No. 8 in April’s draft. “It’s hard for me to see Hockenson having a big fantasy impact this year.
“I think Hockenson, this year, is a better NFL player than he will be fantasy asset. But if you’re in a dynasty, I love Hockenson long term.”
Berry interviewed Lions wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay after practice and posted a photo on Instagram of himself and producer Daniel Dopp, a Midland native and Lions fan, sitting in an oversized chair at the Allen Park complex.
But Berry also cautioned about investing a high fantasy pick on Golladay.
“We know he’s talented, but what’s his opportunity?” Berry said. “Because it’s not going to be a very pass-heavy offense, and we expect the Lions’ defense to be better this year, so maybe they’re not in as many shootouts.
“Having said that, I love Golladay as a player. I have him inside my top 20 as a wide receiver. He’s absolutely a starter, and in a more pass-heavy offense, I think he’d be a superstar in this league.”
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.