Buy More Moore: Buying High On a Young Receiver, Part Two

Bobby Koch

If you recall, last year I advocated for buying high on a young receiver. If you listened to me in May of 2018, you bought JuJu Smith-Schuster when his ADP was 28 and have seen his value go up over one-and-a-half rounds. These days JuJu can be found with an ADP of 9.5, and he has firmly placed himself in the first round of dynasty startups. I mention this because I’m back again to tell you there is another wide receiver you should be buying high on, and his name is DJ Moore.


Moore was the 24th pick of the 2018 NFL draft class. He played his college ball at the University of Maryland. During his junior season, he set the school record for receptions with 80. He also had 1,033 receiving yards and eight touchdowns that season. It was off the back of this season that he entered the NFL and was drafted by the Panthers as the first wide receiver off the board from the 2018 class.

The 2018 season

Moore did not disappoint in his first NFL season. He put up 55 receptions, 788 yards, and two touchdowns on only 82 targets. These numbers were only good enough to make Moore the WR39 in points per game. Nonetheless, that is still impressive for a rookie. To put this in perspective here are all the wide receivers to put up at least 700 receiving yards as a rookie over the last ten seasons:

Recognize some names here? Sure, there are some players that didn’t have the best careers for fantasy purposes. However, many of these players are fantasy superstars. Additionally, I want to investigate how many of these receivers accomplished the feat on 85 targets or less.

Turns out it’s only a list of 10. Again, a few guys here haven’t become fantasy relevant (apologies to Keelan Cole), but most of the names on this list are impressive. This demonstrates that Moore was hyper-efficient with his volume.

We also need to keep in mind that Cam Newton did not start two of the games in the 2018 season. By all reports, Newton is now throwing a real football overhand (which is better than the nerf football news we had about Andrew Luck this time last year! Here are Moore’s splits with and without Cam starting:

You may be surprised to see his targets and yardage went up slightly without Newton, but because he didn’t score any touchdowns his PPR points went way down. The team is clearly better when Newton is at the helm, and assuming his health, I’m expecting Moore’s numbers to go up in his sophomore season. This also feels like a good time to mention that Will Grier, who the Panthers just selected in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft, is no slouch at quarterback either.

Finally, I think it’s important to pay attention to how Moore’s season progressed.  In the first half of the season, he was targeted an average of 3.25 times per game and averaged 37.13 yards per game. In the second half? He was targeted an average of seven times per game and averaged 61.38 yards per game. Progression as a player learns an offense? Who would have thought that was possible!


You might find yourself buying my argument that Moore’s numbers were impressive for a rookie, yet noting that they’re not all that helpful for fantasy. As of May 2019 ADP, however, he already finds himself the 17th wide receiver off the board and 39th off the board overall. How could I possibly be advocating for him, especially when you can get teammate Curtis Samuel as the WR53 and 110th player off the board!?

Well, don’t get me wrong. I do think that Samuel is a value. Way too many smart people I trust have told me they believe in Samuel’s talent. That said, I still believe Moore is going to be the top dog for this team. I’ve seen more from him on the field than I have seen from Samuel and that means something to me.

Once again, you might find yourself asking: so what? An argument I constantly hear on Twitter is that Cam Newton isn’t capable of supporting a top wide receiver. Even when he had supported Steve Smith, he then “ran him out of town”.

If you couldn’t tell by the quotations, I don’t buy this argument. Not only did Cam begin his career by getting Smith over 1,000 yards twice, but he made Kelvin Benjamin a 1,000-yard receiver in 2014. Yes, that Kelvin Benjamin. He followed that up with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for Greg Olsen. The top target on this team generally does pretty well.

This is where someone informs me that even if Moore is the top receiver for the team, it won’t matter. Christian McCaffrey is going to see 200+ targets!  McCaffrey is certainly impressive. In fact, over the last ten seasons there have only been four other running backs to have at least two 100 target seasons:

I don’t believe there is any reason that McCaffrey will see less than 100 targets. However, I don’t see his volume going much higher than it did last year. It can be argued that he only saw over 120 targets because Moore was a rookie and both Samuel and Devin Funchess were injured.

Which leads to another point. Funchess is no longer with the team leaving behind an additional 79 targets from last season. Again, I don’t expect the Panthers to increase McCaffrey’s touches too heavily. They’ve seen the cautionary tale that the Rams are experiencing with Todd Gurley. So who might be the main beneficiary of all those freed up targets? Why not the guy who showed development throughout his rookie season?

Trade Value

That’s all well and good, but what does it currently cost to buy Moore? According to DLF’s trade finder here are some recent trades:

Obviously, there are just limited samples, but if I was receiving Moore, I’d smash accept on all these trades. To give everyone an idea of how I value Moore, I’d personally take him over TY Hilton or AJ Green at this point. Those two players are highly productive, but they’re only going to decrease in value from here on out due to age. Here’s a look at all three on DLF’s Dynasty Trade Analyzer:

screen shot 2019 06 04 at 12.58.44 am 1

Much like Smith-Schuster last season, if Moore shows improvement from his rookie season, he is going to find himself shooting up draft boards. He’s currently an early fourth round dynasty startup value. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find him in the second round this time next season.