With Austin Hooper off the roster, the Falcons needed to fill the void at tight end. They think they found a solution by trading for tight end Hayden Hurst this offseason. Hurst is entering the third year of his NFL career but has yet to surpass 30 catches in a season and has just three touchdowns in his career. Compare that with Hooper’s stats which are highlighted with back-to-back seasons of more than 70 catches and most recently 787 yards and six touchdowns.
Fantasy Football players have concerned about Hurst’s ability to step right in and take over where Hooper left off. Luckily Sports Illustrated’s fantasy football analysts Corey Parson and Frank Taddeo chime in with their rankings.
Read the transcript from their conversation:
Bill Enright: The Atlanta Falcons failed to resign tight end Austin Hooper this offseason, so they went out and traded Hayden Hurst who quarterback Matt Ryan calls "the fastest and most athletic tight end I've ever played with." Considering he's played with all Famer tight end Tony Gonzalez and the aforementioned Austin Hooper, that's pretty high praise for Hayden Hurst. Let's find out what our fantasy analysts have to say about him. Let's bring on Corey Parson and Frank Taddeo. Corey, I'm going to start with you. Are you buying into Hayden Hurst being a top 12 tight end in 2020?
Corey Parson: Top Twelve is a big number right there, but I'll tell you this: he will be able to flirt with that now. The Atlanta Falcons offense ran through the tight end obviously with Dirk Koetter back as the offensive coordinator. We saw last year, Austin Hooper getting 97 targets. He caught a whole bunch of passes, but he scored 6 touchdowns. I don't think that's something that's going to change that offense. So, yes, I think Hayden Hurst definitely does have a good chance to have a career year. So, I'm buying Hayden Hurst.
Bill Enright: Frank, let me go over to you. Hurst is entering only his third year in the NFL, he played the first two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He only has 3 touchdowns to his name. His career-high is 30 catches in a single season. Where do you see Hurst finishing as a tight end this year?
Frank Taddeo: Yeah, I think that Corey nailed it right on the head and it is volume. Obviously, in this offense where it's going to be predicated upon a lot of looks to the tight end position with a team that really likes to throw the ball with Matt Ryan. I actually envision that he will be an easy top 10 finishers this year at the tight end position as we know it is one of the weakest positions in fantasy football. So it's not somebody that I'm going to be looking to maybe jump out at or make sure I secure. I think he's going to be a late-round steal for a lot of fantasy owners out there, because I don't think they going to be looking as much because they're going to be saying, "oh, well, maybe he wasn't able to produce." Obviously, he had Mark Andrews in front of him. It's his just time to shine. And you've got to love when we do a little bit more research that you highlight, Bill, and hearing Matt Ryan's words, that he's one of the fastest and best tight ends that he's ever worked with. Considering that he's already worked with Tony Gonzalez, he has already been there. I mean, this for me, that's music to my ears. I think that all fantasy owners need to listen to those kinds of words. He is definitely going to be a player that finishes in the top 10 at the position in 2020.
Bill Enright: Frank, Corey, really appreciate your insight. Plenty more fantasy football news, strategy, and advice, you can find it by going to SI.com/fantasy.
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