D.J. Moore: The Best Wide Receiver of the 2018 Class - Footballguys

A detailed look at D.J. Moore's fantasy prospects for 2018


  1. Norv Turner’s system should improve the offense.

  2. Moore’s skills fit well with what his Offensive Coordinator will ask him to do.

  3. He is already making a favorable impression.


Moore will be in the running to be the most productive rookie wide receiver this year. His current ADP is appropriate and perhaps even low if you believe that Moore will become a high priority target for Cam Newton in Year One. It’s safer to assume Moore will be the third or fourth preferred target for the time being, which still is worthwhile as your third or fourth drafted receiver assuming Turner can improve the passing game. 


It’s a fair statement to say that the Panthers have not had good luck with return on investment when they have drafted wide receivers early. In 2014, they selected Kelvin Benjamin in the first round. They followed up the very next year in the second round with Devin Funchess. Benjamin struggled with his weight and injuries, ultimately culminating in a trade that sent him to the Buffalo Bills. While Devin Funchess showed some improvement last year, he has largely been a disappointment and has not developed into the playmaker the team wanted him to become. When Carolina selected D.J. Moore at 24th overall in this year’s draft, it triggered the question, “Is Moore just another future early-round failure, or are the Panthers finally getting it right?” The answer to the question lies in analyzing the offense's offseason changes and Moore's fit.


Offensive inconsistency and predictability are what got former offensive coordinator Mike Shula fired. Cam Newton produced career-low passer ratings and threw 30 interceptions over the last two seasons. Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer perfectly sums up Shula's struggles, "My opinion has largely been that Shula is great with play design and concepts, but decision-making, rhythm, and timing were not his strengths.” In order to understand what Moore is capable of this year, it’s imperative to understand how new Norv Turner will change the Panthers’ scheme. Turner’s hallmark is the quick passing game that calls for precise routes and timing from receivers; the antithesis to Mike Shula’s offense. The most common routes Turner asks his receivers to run are in-breaking routes, skinny posts, and comebacks. As Matt Harmon documented here, Moore had success with these types of routes in college. It is a perfect marriage of scheme and player fit.


Because of his size (5-foot-11, 215 lbs.), Moore has been pegged as a guy who will be limited to a slot receiver role. It should be noted, however, that Moore played primarily on the outside in college. He’s capable of playing both slot and X receiver, which will make him a versatile piece for his offense. Other things noted in film study were Moore’s quickness out of breaks and his ability to beat corners deep by kicking up his speed another gear. He is not afraid to take on defenders with the catch secured, making him a particularly dangerous run-after-catch threat. Moore is also resilient, as evidenced by his posting 1,033 yards on 80 catches for eight touchdowns last year at Maryland, despite playing with four different quarterbacks. 


When we hear a steady drumbeat of praise for a player in the offseason, we should take notice. That’s exactly what has been happening thus far for D.J. Moore. The buzz has been building. Albert Breer wrote that Moore, "looked the part in OTAs and minicamp.” Panthers.com’s Max Henson pegged Moore as being “ready to contribute.” Beat writer Bil Voth noted, "Moore is making multiple catches on imperfect throws.” The plan may have been to ease Moore in; but when a player demonstrates they are ready to do more than expected, sometimes that plan gets thrown out the window. It’s easy to see that happening with Moore.


Some scouts have criticized Moore's play against press coverage, his route running, his success rate on contested balls, and his difficulty winning jump balls. Those are certainly areas in which Moore needs to get better, but are overblown given what he’ll be asked to do in the offense. It is likely that Turner and head coach Ron Rivera will play to his strengths. Detractors also want to make the case that Moore was only effective because he got such a large market share of his offense’s targets at Maryland. The research that fellow Footballguy Chad Parsons has done with his projection model shows that large collegiate market share positively correlates to NFL success. This makes sense from an intuitive standpoint as well. Offenses tend to lean heavily on their best players. 


2018 PROJ-Dodds 15.3 1.0 6 0.0   47.0 611 3.9 0.4
2018 PROJ-Henry 16.0 2.0 15 0.0   50.0 675 4.0 0.0
2018 PROJ-Wood 16.0 0.0 0 0.0   44.0 550 4.0 0.0
2018 PROJ-Tremblay 16.0 2.0 14 0.0   42.7 577 3.5 0.4

thoughts from the footballguys message board

TheDirtyWord says:

"Rookies can always be unpredictable and the path for Moore to become WR1 on this team quickly is not beyond the realm of reason. Having only Funchess in front of him is not insurmountable. I actually think Funchess profiles as a better NFL WR2.

Volume is ultimately the issue here though. I like the player. But Cam struggles to exceed 500 passing attempts in any given season. if Olsen is healthy, he can still threaten 1000 yards and Run CMC is a swiss-army type weapon that the offense features. Most likely outcome is that Moore shows very nicely in 2018; that he was a good pick but his path to fantasy relevancy likely lies in 2019 and beyond."

pantherclub says:

"From a team/offense perspective, it's a match made in heaven. From a fantasy perspective (redraft) stay away. For starters, he is obviously a rookie, on an offense that has a lot of mouths to feed (Samuels, Cmac, Olsen, Funchess, Torrey Smith) and an offense that wants to pound the ball. I really think 60 catches would be the absolute best case scenario here but I wouldn't even count on that."

BassNBrew doesn't think Cam Newton's inaccuracy should be a concern:

"The point is you don't need to count on Cam. Moore is ranked at WR52. Last year WR52 scored 126 PPR pts. Based on my numbers above with 100 targets and Cam completing at 59% you have 140 fantasy points and that assumes Moore scores 0 TDs. 140 was good for WR43. Let's give him 5 TDs and you're talking WR30 with 170 pts. So you don't trust Cam, reduce his comp % to 50% and the fantasy points drop to 145 pts. That's still a bargain where you can get Moore.

Targets will be the driver as to Moore's success this year, not Cam being +/- 5% different on his completion numbers."


Pete Rogers of SB Nation is tempted to take Moore, despite the typical struggles of rookie receivers:

“Love the fit in Carolina and I’ve talked myself into never touching a rookie wide receiver in fantasy but D.J. Moore might be someone I could… talk myself into.”

Dave Richard of CBS Sports thinks taking Moore too early is a mistake:

“There's going to be some excitement for Moore on Draft Day, but taking him as anything more than a late-round bench receiver is a mistake. A good rookie season for him might mean getting 700 yards and five touchdowns, and knowing when and where he'll have his best games will be a constant guessing game.”

Emory Hunt of the FNTSY Sports Network has his doubts about D.J. Moore:

“...But the thing is when you look at D.J. Moore, to me, he’s not that explosive, he struggles to get separation…”

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