Fantasy football and the NFL season now go hand-in-hand. For many, drafting players and setting lineups each week in hopes of beating friends or co-workers has become the main incentive to keep up with the sport.
So, when the Ravens sent tight end Hayden Hurst to the Falcons in exchange for draft picks, it was more than a standard football trade to many. The swap will have an effect on the fantasy value and performance of both Hurst and the remaining tight ends on the Ravens roster.
On the latest Ravens Talk Podcast episode, NBC Sports Washington's Jordan Giorgio, Andrew Gillis and Ryan Wormeli discussed the trade and what's to come for both sides. From their analysis, one can begin to evaluate how the move will impact the fantasy football world.
Beginning in Baltimore, the trade doesn't mean that the Ravens are losing their No. 1 option at tight end. Though Hurst put up a solid 30 receptions for 349 yards and two touchdowns in 2019, it was Mark Andrews who had the breakout year on offense.
With 64 catches for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns, the Pro Bowler quickly became one of Lamar Jackson's go-to pass catchers. Now with Hurst departing, Andrews looks to be in line for even more production. Despite his impressive numbers from a season ago, it's possible that Andrews was held back a little by Hurst due to both tight ends needing time on the field and targets.
Baltimore's three tight end system worked well in 2019, but with Hurst now in Atlanta, it seems that Andrews could benefit from more targets coming his way. Already a high-value fantasy tight end, there's no reason to think he's hit his peak just yet.
Fellow tight end Nick Boyle could see a bump in his production as well. Used more often as a blocker last season, Boyle still essentially mimicked Hurst's statline, catching 31 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
However, it would be naive to assume that all of Hurst's production will transfer to Andrews and Boyle. As Gillis explained on Ravens Talk, Baltimore will have to find someone new to replace Hurst's numbers - even if it isn't a tight end.
“You do lose that three-headed monster at tight end, you have to replace that with something," Gillis said. “It doesn’t have to come in the area that you would expect. It can be a receiver, It can be another running back if you like.”
That hole will most likely be filled during the 2020 NFL Draft in April. For now, all signs point to Andrews, and even Boyle, providing fantasy upgrades. Yet, their full value may be unknown until the Ravens 2020 offense takes its full form.
As for Hurst, the tight end could be heading for the breakout season that Baltimore had hoped for when it selected him 25th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. To get an idea of what may be in store for Hurst in Atlanta, Austin Hooper's 2019 numbers are helpful.
The former Falcons tight end, now a member of the Cleveland Browns, had 75 receptions for 787 yards and six touchdowns a season ago. Hurst can be looked at as his replacement, meaning he'll garner all of the targets Hooper received in an offense that loves to throw the football.
That, paired with Hurst's potential, could lead to a big 2020 season, according to Wormeli.
“It would not surprise me if he has a breakout season in Atlanta," Wormeli said. “They obviously lost Austin Hooper, Matt Ryan likes to throw to his tight ends so he’s going to get looks over there."
Gillis believes that being in Atlanta could help turn Hurst into "that Mark Andrews-type" player.
The coming months will help paint a clearer picture in terms of what is to come for Hurst and Andrews both on the field and in fantasy lineups. On paper, however, the trade looks to have increased both of their value come fantasy draft season.
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