Hayden Hurst Is Finding His Groove
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Image Credit: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Hayden Hurst.

In The Blitz, RotoViz writers react to the latest news and help you place it within the context of our 2020 research and recommendations.

Sometimes, a player needs a change of scenery to find his niche and produce for real and fantasy football. For one former first-round pick, a change in the offensive scheme is just what he needed. Tight end Hayden Hurst appears to be enjoying his new home with the Atlanta Falcons and is beginning to solidify his role on their high-powered offense.

Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst caught seven of eight targets for 62 receiving yards in a 34-27 win over Denver. Hurst has seemingly found his niche in this offense, as he has seven targets or more in three straight games and 50-plus receiving yards in four straight. The former Raven may not be the second coming of 2019 Austin Hooper, but he’s been pretty darn close, offering fantasy managers a good weekly floor. Hurst gets a Week 10 bye before an excellent matchup against the Saints in Week 11.

Polar Opposite Offensive System

After spending two seasons in one of the most run-heavy systems in football, Hurst now finds himself a key component of one of the most pass-heavy offenses in football. During his time with the Baltimore Ravens, it quickly became apparent that Hurst was not even the TE1 on his team despite his first-round draft capital. A tight end from the same class, who went two rounds later (Mark Andrews), was the preferred option on that offense.

The Ravens sent Hurst and a fourth-round pick to the Falcons in exchange for their second and fifth-round picks. The Falcons lost Hooper to the Cleveland Browns and were excited to land the athletic first-round pick. After topping 10 fantasy points once in his first five games, Hurst has now topped double-digit fantasy points in each of his last four.

 

Looking Ahead

Hurst is an older tight end (27) for only being in his third season. His unorthodox journey to the NFL took a pit stop in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, where he pitched in their system for two seasons before returning to the University of South Carolina. Quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons have long supported multiple receiving options each season. Hurst finds himself as a mid TE1 with upside through half a season. 

Julio Jones is nearing the end of his playing career but looks as dominant as ever. Calvin Ridley has erupted in his third season and appears ready to assume the WR1 mantle in Atlanta. After that, the pass-catching options are spotty at best. This season, Hurst has received at least five targets in seven of nine games, topped 50 receiving yards in six of nine games, and has scored three touchdowns. Hurst could be a sneaky buy in dynasty leagues, especially those with TE Premium scoring, and will be considered a must-start as long as he remains a Falcon.

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Sam Wallace

A featured writer for RotoViz, Sam specializes in dynasty. One of our favorite social media voices, he's developing a reputation as a breakout expert.

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