Donte Moncrief may be dynasty football’s premier buy-low target.
Athletic ability? Check.
Secure usage? Check.
Good situation? Check.
In our positional rankings, Moncrief is buried as the 30th wideout. No matter how hard I try, I can’t figure out why. Moncrief is an extremely gifted athlete who is getting plenty of usage in a superb situation. I believe he has the ability to flirt with top-10 receiver numbers at some point, and now is the time to pounce.
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He’s a Super Freak
In four of the five workout metrics, Moncrief rates in at least the 86th percentile, with his 40-yard dash (92nd), burst score (94th) and height-adjusted speed score (96th) all falling in the 92nd percentile or above. Moncrief’s only hiccup athletically is his agility score, which ranks in the 35th percentile.
While those combine numbers are easy on the eyes, what impresses me most is his breakout age. Moncrief was young — very young — for his grade in college, so his breakout age, which the site defines as the age in which the player first received a 20 percent dominator rating, rates in the 100th percentile. I’ll have to crunch some numbers, but I think that’s good.
Moncrief, an Ole Miss product, will turn 23 years old this August. He’s younger than 2016 rookie Josh Doctson, nearly two years younger than Kevin White and almost four years younger than partner in crime T.Y. Hilton, despite getting drafted just two years after him.
Moral of the story: Moncrief is a freak athlete.
Down On His Luck
Moncrief either had bad Luck or no Luck in 2015, which prevented him from truly breaking out last season. Of course, the Luck I’m referring to is Colts’ franchise quarterback Andrew Luck.
Things got weird in Indianapolis last season. A preseason Super Bowl contender, the Colts had a year to forget, and Luck, the biggest reason they were expected to compete for the AFC title, turned in a career-worst season. Not only did Luck play poorly, but he also dealt with a myriad of injuries, which forced him to miss nine games.
If the 2015 season was a Super Nintendo game, the Colts would’ve just shut the thing off in about week seven and taken a mulligan.
Luck’s injury-riddled campaign and poor play torpedoed what was expected to be a high-octane Colts’ offense. As a result, no one on Indy lived up to what was expected of them, although you could probably make an argument for Frank Gore being the lone exception.
As a hunter of value, we should be glad the Colts’ organization redshirted in 2015, because it’s one of the big reasons Moncrief’s value is where it is. The former Rebel finished last year with a pedestrian line of 64 catches for 733 yards and six scores on 105 targets.
If we dig deeper, though, we can find plenty of reasons to be excited.
Moncrief played just seven games with Luck under center. If we extrapolate his production from those seven games over a full 16-game season, Moncrief’s numbers — 73 receptions for 802 yards and 11 touchdowns on 123 targets — look better, especially in the touchdown department. Those totals would have been good enough to finish as WR17 in PPR formats.
If Moncrief was heading into his third season with that campaign on his resume, he’d probably be ranked higher than 30th.
Crank the Volume
The presence of Hilton as Indy’s top receiver has been a damper on Moncrief’s value. The same could be said for last year’s signing of Andre Johnson and the Colts’ first-round selection of Phillip Dorsett, neither of which seemed like ringing endorsements of Moncrief.
Things can change quite a bit in 12 months. Johnson, after proving to be old, is gone while Dorsett wasn’t ready to contribute as a rookie. It was just one season, but Dorsett hasn’t shown anything which makes me think he’s any kind of threat to leap Moncrief for No. 2 duties. In fact, I think Moncrief has a better chance to become the Colts’ top wideout than he does of losing his stranglehold on the No. 2 gig.
In all likelihood, Moncrief will continue to play second fiddle to Hilton — Moncrief had 29 less targets than Hilton in 2015 — but there should be ample opportunity for both to put up good numbers with Coby Fleener and Johnson out of town.
To be exact, 161 targets are up for grabs in Indy’s offense, but that number could actually be higher. Indianapolis attempted 619 passes last season. With Luck under center all 16 games in 2014, the Colts threw the ball 661 times, so there are likely even more than 161 targets available.
Dorsett and Dwayne Allen will see boosts in volume, but they’re highly unlikely to account for anywhere close to all 161 targets by themselves. After all, Dorsett received just 39 targets last year, and Allen is more of a blocking tight end who has seen a total of 79 targets over the last two years, including a 29-target, 13-game season in 2015.
Hilton has been targeted 134, 131 and 139 times, respectively, in each of the past three seasons. His volume appears to be fairly set in stone, which means Moncrief — who was targeted 105 times last year — stands to benefit from Fleener’s and Johnson’s departures.
Moncrief is also the team’s best red-zone weapon and only jump-ball option on the outside. Hilton and Dorsett are burners who cash checks thanks to long speed and big plays. Hilton has never scored more than seven times in a season, and Moncrief led the team with six touchdowns last year, when Matt Hasselbeck started more games than Luck.
Look at Moncrief’s stellar touchdown catch against Malcolm Butler and the Patriots last season:
Hilton and Dorsett can’t do that.
Over his first three years, Luck averaged 29 touchdown passes per season. Assuming he returns to form in 2016, someone is going to have to catch those touchdowns, with Moncrief being in a great position to haul in a nice chunk of them.
Projecting targets before the season is an inexact science, to be sure, but Moncrief has a great chance to see a lot of passes — maybe upwards of 130 — thrown his way in 2016.
In December, I wrote this about Moncrief: “I fully believe Luck will be back to his old self in 2016, and a receiver getting that kind of volume in a high-powered offense with a really good quarterback is a player I want.”
Nothing has changed, including his ADP or positional ranking.
Moncrief is extremely talented and has produced at a good level, but his ascent tapered off due to things out of his control — namely an injury to Luck and Luck’s poor play prior to the injury. He is a young, athletically gifted receiver who is in line for significant targets in a good offense, and with an ADP of WR30, he’s on sale.