Speculation is one of the toughest aspects of fantasy football, especially in the dynasty community. If you’ve been around fantasy football long enough, you’ve likely come across different people touting their model for identifying prospects or how what shows up on film is more important than what shows up on paper.
It gets even tougher to accurately project a player when he hasn’t played a regular-season snap and is heading into his sophomore season. Like I mentioned in a previous piece about Parris Campbell, how do you properly evaluate a rookie when there’s not much to assess?
Let’s peel back the layers and see if we can project fantasy value for Jalen Hurd heading into 2020.
College Production Profile
Not so long ago, Hurd was a five-star running back recruit from the state of Tennessee who decided to stay in-state and become a Volunteer. Through his first 2.5 seasons, he was an effective and efficient runner who was a second-team All-SEC pick as a sophomore.
However, a concussion derailed his junior season. After being denied a request to change positions due to the injury, he transferred to Baylor. He sat out a season and then played out his final year as a wide receiver while still having involvement in the run game.
His size and ability to play anywhere on the field made him a unique prospect heading into the 2019 NFL combine and draft season.
Hurd only competed in one testing event at the 2019 NFL combine: the bench press. While excelling in that regard, he held off on the rest of his testing until his pro day.
Using his unofficial forty-yard dash time from his pro day, which was an uninspiring 4.66, and plugging it into the RotoViz Freak Score Calculator, there are a few encouraging comps for Hurd.
His forty time is nothing to write home about, but it bears repeating that he performed well in college and flashed the athletic ability to transition between multiple offensive positions. Robert Woods is the comp that stands out to me the most. A productive possession receiver, Woods has also shown a willingness and ability to be a ball-carrier when asked.
Over the last two seasons, Woods has rushed the ball 36 times for 272 yards and two touchdowns. For a wide receiver who isn’t a traditional hybrid player, those are noteworthy numbers. A smart head coach in Sean McVay can maximize the talent of an athlete like Woods. I believe Kyle Shanahan can do the same with Hurd this coming season.
Rookie Season Review
In Week 1 of the preseason, Hurd flashed his athleticism by hauling in two touchdowns passes. The 49ers looked like geniuses by snagging him in the early third round of the draft, especially considering he was the 11th wide receiver taken. However, this success was short-lived.
A stress fracture in his back forced Hurd to miss his entire rookie season. The news from the 49ers camp is that he will be ready for offseason activities and the 2020 preseason.
Shanahan has quickly become one of the most innovative head coaches in the league. The Super Bowl runner-up this past season, Shanahan excelled at getting the most from his offensive playmakers. Adding Hurd to the mix will only make the 49ers offense more potent next season.
An equally athletic rookie wideout, Deebo Samuel performed very well in Shanahan’s system. A healthy Hurd will be able to add a new wrinkle to that offense.
The 49ers have the players and personnel on both sides of the ball to be competitive for some time. One storyline to keep an eye on is the contract situation of veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. He will be 33 years old this month and, while still playing at a high level, will open up nearly 100 targets in the passing game should he leave.
Hurd is not going to be any cheaper to acquire than he is right now. Casual dynasty owners will likely part with him for next to nothing. Send out some offers to your league-mates and see if you can get him as an add-on. At this point, I would not offer anything more than a 2020 third-round pick, but his potential jump in production this season could be significant for the savvy fantasy owner. There’s a good chance he’s taking up space on someone’s taxi squad, or is perhaps not even owned at all.