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Hayden Hurst has signed on with a Carolina Panthers offense without any significant receiving talent. The Panthers are in the midst of a complete rebuild. They recently acquired the first overall pick from the Chicago Bears in an attempt, many would assume, to acquire one of the top 2023 quarterback prospects. In addition, former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich is now the head coach of the Panthers.
We break what all of this entails for the fantasy prospects of Hayden Hurst.
Hayden Hurst signed a three-year contract with the Carolina Panthers.
In 2022, at 29 years old, Hayden Hurst had his first fantasy-relevant season with the Cincinnati Bengals. Playing on a loaded offense with Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, Hurst finished as the TE21 in fantasy points per game. It was difficult for Hurst to remain fantasy relevant on the Bengals as he had only three weekly top-12 tight end finishes in 2022. Hurst will likely be considerably more productive on the Panthers in 2023 than with the Bengals in 2022.
The Panthers' offense just sent D.J. Moore, its best wide receiver, to the Chicago Bears for the first pick overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The odds are that the Panthers will draft a quarterback that is a more than capable passer, which could only be considered beneficial for Hurst.
There is little relevant receiving talent left on the Panther’s offense. Unless they plan to hit big on a Day 2 wide receiver during this year’s draft, the Panthers should be looking to add a veteran receiver through Free Agency. However, the remaining pool of Free Agent wide receivers is sparse. What is left of the Panther’s receivers is little to write home about. Terrace Marshall is a third-year wide receiver many had high hopes for coming out of LSU. He was non-existent during 2021 but finally appeared on the fantasy radar in 2022, catching 28 passes for 490 yards and one touchdown.
New head coach Frank Reich often heavily favored utilizing individual tight ends as dual-threat blockers and receivers. However, no tight end was ever a dependable weekly fantasy asset under Reich. Given the nature of the Panther’s offense in 2022, Hurst should have more opportunities.
The Bengals will essentially remain unscathed by Hurst's departure. However, the Bengals should be looking to add tight end help as none of the remaining tight ends on the Bengals' depth chart profile are efficient pass catchers. Mike Gesicki, Dalton Schultz, and Robert Tonyan Jr would all be excellent candidates to fill the vacancy left behind by Hurst. Joe Burrow’s ceiling could be raised even higher should any of those three names sign with the Bengals in the coming days.
A career year may be on the horizon for Hurst when taking stock of the Panther’s 2023 draft picks and the remaining wide receiver free agency pool. The tight end position behind the top four or five is fickle. Due to the touchdown-dependent nature of the position, the TE12-16 is a mixed bag every year. Hurst could easily finish in that range,
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