Lions rookie LaPorta emerges as top fantasy football option

Detroit Lions rookie tight end Sam LaPorta turned in a solid fantasy football stat line in his first career NFL game.

Sam LaPorta in his first NFL action vs the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sam LaPorta in his first NFL action vs the Kansas City Chiefs. / David Eulitt/GettyImages
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In his first career NFL regular season game, Sam LaPorta and the Detroit Lions defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in their own barn 21-20. The game mostly featured sloppy offensive play from both sides, but LaPorta and teammate Amon-Ra St. Brown really stood out for Detroit.

Generally speaking, rookie tight ends do not produce at the NFL level right away, but LaPorta might be different. The Iowa product joins a long list of extremely talented fellow tight ends from his alma mater, which happens to include former Lions Pro Bowler and highest-paid tight end in NFL history, T.J. Hockenson. George Kittle has been an NFL All-Pro three times, and Noah Fant is no slouch either.

The latter two had relatively productive rookie seasons, while Hockenson did not. Kittle and Fant each surpassed 40 catches and 500 receiving yards in their debut seasons, but also had three receiving touchdowns or fewer. For fantasy football purposes, that is both good and bad. That said, LaPorta is already rapidly approaching that catch threshold. The 2023 second-round pick made five receptions on five targets against Kansas City, and parlayed that into 39 yards - not uber efficient, but reliable, and 8.9 fantasy points in the bank. For Dan Campbell and Jared Goff, reliable is important.

LaPorta actually finished fourth in targets on the night (5) with Marvin Jones Jr. (6), Josh Reynolds (7), and St. Brown (9) all ahead of him. His five targets saw him earn a modest 14.3 percent target share, but the Iowa product also played 58-of-70 snaps on offense (83 percent). Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson used his rookie tight end in a variety of ways, including in the slot and out wide.

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In short, LaPorta has now established himself as a top-tier waiver wire target for next week, if he's still available in your fantasy league. The 22-year-old is rostered in just 35 percent of ESPN's fantasy leagues, and that number could double after the weekend. The target share and route running volume could stand to improve, but LaPorta and the Lions are still a work in progress. The rookie is easily a fine stash and an acceptable fantasy TE2 if needed.