2021 Bust Candidate: Panthers WR DJ Moore

I know this guy has been both one of the more popular and underrated wide receivers in the league. I’ve seen many a fantasy analyst fawn over DJ Moore and I can understand why. DJ Moore, one of the wide receivers for the Carolina Panthers is a guy that can get it done. He has plenty of footage doing it. I won’t take that away from him. The talent is there.

You feel the “but” coming, right? The problem with Moore is that while he is a talented wide receiver, his opportunity to be great is capped in the offense. It’s kind of a surprise considering that he and Robby Anderson are the top pass-catching options on the team… behind Christian McCaffrey of course.

QB Play

Last season, Teddy Bridgewater was decent in terms of QB play for the Panthers. Bridgewater had the 5th best completion percentage among quarterbacks at 69.1%. He also had the 6th lowest recorded bad throws with just 75, which accounted for 14.2% (5th best among QB’s in 2020). The problem came in with the overall passing game itself. The Panther’s passing offense ranked 18th overall in the league last season. The Panthers averaged just 243 yards per game and just barely 31 passing attempts per game.

The Panthers’ passing attack wasn’t generating enough points either. Bridgewater only had thrown 15 touchdowns on the season. The Panthers offense was averaging 21.9 points a game, 9th worst in the NFL for 2020. The Panthers making the move to Sam Darnold can be even worse. Darnold was one of the worst quarterbacks last season, ranking 33rd among quarterbacks. That means there was a backup QB that stepped in at some point during the regular season and was better than him.

To add salt to the wound, Darnold had a 59.6% completion rate and was unable to crack 3,000 yards passing. I could go on but you get the point. While there is always a possibility that things could work out better for Darnold now that he’s in a better system than what the Jets sported under then Head Coach Adam Gase, there’s also the chance that things could go completely off the rails.

Competition For Targets

We also must consider the fact that two things happened last season that could project to impact DJ Moore’s fantasy value going into the 2021 season. For starters, the loss of Christian McCaffrey was big for the Panthers’ offense. Both the passing attack and the run game tend to funnel through him. In the last two full seasons for Christian McCaffrey, he’s been the most targeted running back in the league. I don’t expect that to change this season either.

The second thing you have to account for is Robby Anderson. Anderson led the Panthers wide receivers in targets in 2020 with 136 targets. Moore himself had 118 targets but that total could have been higher if he didn’t miss Week 14. Now with Darnold potentially becoming the starter and familiarity between him and Robby Anderson, Moore could be on the outside looking in when it comes to being targeted as well as dealing with a lesser share should Christian McCaffrey plays an entire season.

The Wrap Up

DJ Moore isn’t a bum by any means. His situation though may not lend to him being as productive as many want him to be. Moore finished the 2020 season as the WR 25, averaging 14.1 fantasy points per game which ranked 27th among wide receivers. Moore makes for a solid WR 3 with potential upside should the offense look to put more points up by looking his way once the team gets into the red zone. Moore was ranked 3rd among the Panther’s receivers in RZ targets with just 8 once the team got inside the 20.

Moore, who had just 4 touchdowns last season, needs to be more involved in that part of the field to see a jump in fantasy production but with Sam Darnold coming in and not knowing what the future may hold for Moore inside the Panthers offense, he could be the odd-man-out. With a 6.06 ADP, there are better options to me like Tee Higgins or Chase Claypool that I would take a shot on over Moore.

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