Dynasty Dilemma: Hayden Hurst
By Cody Folden
Going into his 6th season, Hayden Hurst is the definition of a dynasty dilemma. Coming out of the draft in 2018 already at 25 years old, was a significant “con” coming out. I will argue that with his age he came into the league as a very good blocker and still is. With career stats of 177 receptions for 1,718 yards and 14 TDs, these numbers are not the best to look at from a fantasy perspective.
Drafted by Baltimore in 2018, in the first round, everyone started buying into the notion that they got their starting tight end. Baltimore then drafted Mark Andrews in the same draft and it was apparent in training camp Mark Andrews was the receiving threat and Hayden Hurst was the blocking tight end. Out of his 70 career games, he has started 31. Injury has been a part of that, lasting only 2 seasons in Baltimore. He then got 2 years in the Atlanta Falcons organization, expected in fantasy circles to make big strides because, again, he was the number 1 guy. Then, they draft Kyle Pitts. In his first season with Atlanta he started 9 out of 16 games and then 5 out of 13 in the next season, Pitts was a big reason for that. Hurst then signed a 1-year prove-it deal with Cincinnati where he put up 52 receptions 414 yards and 2 touchdowns. He now gets a 3-year deal with the Carolina Panthers who desperately need pass catchers.
A huge reason to buy is his catch percentage in the last 2 years was 83.9% and 76.5%. He catches balls when they are thrown his way. With what looks like a rookie quarterback coming in and a backup in Andy Dalton. You need sure hands. He instantly becomes one of the best targets on the team and with the rumors of Adam Thielen also ending up there. You couldn't ask for two better veteran football players to come and be security blankets for a rookie QB.
Hurst, like stated above, is a good blocker. The Carolina Panthers will probably be in the top 5 rushing offenses in the upcoming year and Hurst is going to make that prediction a reality. Miles Sanders, D’Onta Forman and Chuba Hubbard will need good blocking. With a good offensive line already, Hurst only builds into that narrative.
One of the significant reasons why you would sell Hurst in fantasy is impatience. If you are the manager that drafted him way back in 2018 and you still have him, this isn’t for you. Fantasy Football is obviously about getting results. He finally started all the games that he played, for the first time last year. Although, because of an injury, not a full season. 13 out of 13 is a good number but he has only been available for a full regular season schedule twice; his second year in the league (Baltimore) and his third year (Atlanta). In those 32 games, he also only started 13 of them. The inconsistency in games started and played over the entirety of his career is definitely a concern.
Hayden Hurst in year 5 had his second-highest yards per game in his career with 31.8. I know for most, that is lackluster. We have to remember that the tight-end position in fantasy football is a barren wasteland. Sometimes you need multiple tight ends on your roster to make a good team stay just that. If you don’t have one of the top 4 tight ends in your league you will have probably 3 or 4 of these types of guys on your roster. With a new 3-year deal, he will be on the field and will be a great dump-off reception candidate for, at least, his age 30 and 31 seasons. If you can pick him up on waivers I would, if you don't have him, find out which manager does and gauge how impatient he is, and offer a late-round rookie pick to get consistency, if healthy.
Cody Folden joined the Dynasty Pros team in 2023. He plays in many dynasty leagues but dabbles in other leagues like devy, contract, and scouting leagues. He loves to dive deep into learning about prospects coming up through college and seeing them thrive when they get to the league.