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Player Spotlight: Donte Moncrief

A detailed look at Donte Moncrief's fantasty prospects for 2016.

BREAKOUT IMMINENT

Often in fantasy football, breakout seasons come as a shock to the majority of owners. A player who has been mildly productive or perhaps not even productive at all suddenly takes his place among the best options in the fantasy game. Allen Robinson and David Johnson are two good examples from last year.

Then there are those breakouts that most everyone sees coming. Donte Moncrief seems to be one of those players. The 22-year-old enters his third season of NFL action having snagged passes for a total of 733 yards in 2015. He doubled both his touchdown and reception totals from his rookie season, going from 3 touchdowns to 6 and 32 receptions to 64. What’s even more amazing is that he did all this with subpar passers Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst in at quarterback for over half of his games.    

MONSTER MONCRIEF

Moncrief is everything you want in a receiver metrically speaking. At 6’2 and 221 pounds, he is a prototypical fit. At his rookie combine, Moncrief blazed through the 40-yard dash, finishing the drill in 4.4 seconds. Though he does not come down with the pass, you can see that speed on display in the following clip:

Film study shows other very encouraging things about Moncrief’s future. He got more technically sound in all parts of his game. His footwork drastically improved from year one to year two. His ability to sell routes with his eyes also got much better.  Moncrief seemed to be beating physical press corners with more consistency, though he could stand to continue improving in that respect. As we can see while we watch and as Austin Kas confirms, Moncrief was very efficient with his targets in 2015, despite those targets having less than ideal placement at times.

As was discussed in Dwayne Allen’s Spotlight, new Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski tends to favor Norv Turner/ Don Coryell based concepts that put the ball in the air often. Both Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton should see an increase in vertical targets. Both are very capable of converting on these throws and should help to bring the Colts offense back to relevancy.

“DONTE’S INFERNO”

Moncrief hasn’t missed a game of his pro career, but he did have offseason surgery in May for a turf toe condition. Moncrief has already resumed running routes. Dr. Jene Bramel wrote near the time of the surgery that he believes Moncrief will be ready for camp.

Something we should note looking at game splits last year is that Moncrief did much better with Andrew Luck under center. He only scored once without Luck at quarterback. If Luck were to get hurt again due to poor protection from the offensive line, it’s easy to imagine that Moncrief would once again struggle. Hopefully, the drafting of center Ryan Kelly will allow for much better protection for Luck. Our offensive line analyst seems to think so.

When predicting Moncrief’s fantasy success, we assume that the offense will return to it’s 2014 functionality. If the offense is more conservative than we think and Dwayne Allen and the rest of the offense stays completely healthy, Moncrief may not get enough targets to come close to the 1,000 yard season that some have predicted.

POSITIVES:

  • Metrically, Moncrief has what owners look for in a wide receiver.

  • He displayed impressive efficiency on his targets in 2015.

  • He showed technical improvement in just about every aspect of his game.

NEGATIVES:

  • Moncrief had a turf toe condition that required surgery.

  • Another injury to Andrew Luck could cause him to fall short of the production we expect.

  • If the Colts offense doesn’t return to elite status, it could impact Moncrief’s output.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Moncrief is currently going in the late-fifth round of redraft leagues, but his draft stock is rapidly climbing and should continue to do so throughout the summer. Even if Moncrief manages to climb into the third round, he should still return value on your pick.

As for dynasty formats, the buy-low opportunity for Moncrief has passed. Owners are finally waking up to how many years the young stud will get to play with Andrew Luck. It will be difficult to acquire him without paying a premium. While news of his turf toe surgery may have temporarily spooked his owners, the positive buzz from the fantasy community has allayed those fears. If you can somehow acquire him for 2016 rookie pick 1.03 or lower in your league, that is an advisable move.

2016 PROJECTIONS

MAURILE TREMBLAY'S PROJECTIONS

G

RSH

YD

Y/R

TD

REC

YD

Y/R

TD

FPT

16

0

0

0

0

82

988

12.05

6

216.80

DAVID DODDS' PROJECTIONS

G

RSH

YD

Y/R

TD

REC

YD

Y/R

TD

FPT

16

1

5

5

0

74

918

12.41

6

200.00

OTHER VIEWPOINTS

Chris Wesseling expects big things from Moncrief in 2016:

“While Dorsett is the wild card in Indianapolis' offense, Moncrief has already earned Luck's trust, learned to find open spots in zone defenses, reeled in a series of catches with a high degree of difficulty and emerged as the team's best offensive player for stretches of the 2015 season. His outlook is especially promising after he demonstrated an impressive efficiency that belied his quarterbacks' struggles in 2015. Moncrief should be a lock for his first 1,000-yard campaign, taking advantage of the single coverage provided by Hilton's downfield prowess in an offense that is poised to return to its lofty 2014 heights.”

Evan Silva believes Moncrief could be the superior value to Hilton in drafts:

The Colts have a whopping 222 unaccounted-for targets from last year's roster, creating a major opportunity void for Hilton to potentially reset his career high and Donte Moncrief to take a big leap following a promising-if-inconsistent sophomore campaign. Exceptionally young coming out of Ole Miss in 2014, Moncrief won't turn 23 until August and is eight months younger than Josh Doctson, six months younger than Sterling Shepard, and only eight months older than Will Fuller. An up-and-down beginning to Moncrief's career should have been expected. He now appears primed for liftoff as a classic third-year breakout. Even with departed Coby Fleener and Andre Johnson in the fold, Moncrief's 54 targets were only 11 shy of Hilton's 65 in Luck's seven starts last year, while Moncrief's five touchdowns led the Colts with Luck at the controls. Over the last two seasons, Moncrief has actually beaten Hilton in catch rate (62.3%/57.0%), drop rate (3.9%/4.9%), and touchdowns per target (5.8%/4.5%). Even for as much as I love Hilton this year, I don't think it's inconceivable that Moncrief could prove the superior value in drafts.