The Carolina Panthers got a huge overhaul this season. Cam Newton is gone along with Ron Rivera. Christian McCaffrey is the centerpiece of the team at running back. Nevertheless, D.J. Moore is also a rising star in the league and fantasy football circles. After a semi-breakout sophomore season, Moore is poised to establish himself as an elite wide receiver in the NFL in 2020.
Fantasy Football Preview: D.J. Moore
Career to This Point
Moore is coming into his third NFL season and is one of the hottest dynasty startup commodities right now. After the Panthers selected him in the first round of the 2018 draft, he had a promising rookie year. Moore turned 82 targets into 788 yards and two touchdowns. He played behind Devin Funchess as he got acclimated to the pro level, but was the clear-cut number one coming into season two.
He came into 2019 expected to be the go-to guy. Moore made the most of his opportunity racking up 1,175 yards and four touchdowns. This was despite playing most of the season with Kyle Allen as his quarterback. Despite mediocre (at best) play from his signal-caller, Moore notched a WR12 finish in half-point PPR. And it felt like he left more on the table. He was only able to catch 87 of his 135 targets, decreasing his catch percentage from 67 percent his rookie year to 64 percent. His four touchdowns were also extremely low for a guy with that volume of targets.
However, Moore still made the most with what he had. He was ranked 11th among wide receivers in yards after the catch. His shiftiness and big-play ability make him a threat to score every time he touches the ball. For 2020, it should translate to more touchdowns and potentially more yards. Especially considering this stat:
Most missed tackles forced on receptions since 2018 (WRs):
🔹 D.J. Moore – 30
🔹 Michael Thomas – 29
🔹 Golden Tate – 29
🔹 Odell Beckham Jr. – 26
🔹 Chris Godwin – 24 pic.twitter.com/Dy68ffJqHC
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) July 28, 2020
Carolina overhauled their entire look. Longtime head coach Rivera is gone. Their former face of the franchise and NFL MVP Newton was also cut. Their replacements are Matt Rhule at head coach and Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Rhule implemented Joe Brady as their offensive coordinator, who says he has high expectations for Moore this season.
Brady and Bridgewater already have a close connection, stemming from their time together on the New Orleans Saints. Bridgewater credits Brady as the coach who spent extra time with him after practice to learn the playbook. Brady says that Bridgewater makes the entire team around him better. Hopefully, that also extends to Moore, and he and Bridgewater establish quick chemistry. At the very least, Bridgewater will be an upgrade to last year’s quarterbacks, raising Moore’s ceiling.
Bridgewater looked great in the five games he saw action in during Drew Brees’ absence last year. He went 5-0, completing 67.9 of his passes. Some attribute the success to Sean Payton, one of the most established offensive minds in the game. He also had a great run game with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray, along with the NFL’s top receiver Michael Thomas. But in Carolina, Bridgewater gets an offense that is just as stacked, and he hopes to give Moore similar treatment to Thomas.
There are a few question marks to Moore’s outlook though. For one, how will quickly will this new regime gel, if at all? In addition, there are questions on just how much the offense plans to spread the ball around. The team signed Robby Anderson in free agency. Anderson was one of the most sought-after receivers this year. And though many were thinking Curtis Samuel might be the odd-man-out with the signing, Brady emphasized that Samuel will play a key role in the offense this year.
This leaves questions on if Moore’s workload, but overall efficiency still gives him as high a ceiling as ever.
ADP and Outlook
Moore is going as the ninth wide receiver off the board according to ESPN’s rankings. This projects him to finish higher than last season, meaning most are on the same page about his breakout continuing. Looking at the wideouts ahead of him, it is tough to see him outperforming them. Kenny Golladay is rated immediately ahead of Moore. He is in a similar position to him in terms of trending up as he develops, but his supporting case remains mostly intact, making him a safer pick with a similar ceiling. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are right ahead of them, and it’s hard not to trust them with Tom Brady behind center.
Even behind Moore, there are some players with high-finish potential. Allen Robinson and Adam Thielen have both had top-five fantasy finishes before. And Amari Cooper being ranked a few slots lower is almost head-scratching. Some might choose to go with those players over Moore, who is definitely a less established name. However, it could also mean Moore falls a lot lower than nine, and could even be available as the 14th wide receiver. If he makes it that far, any fantasy team owner needs to pull the trigger.
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