Entering the season as a player we thought could take the next step, especially in fantasy football, Carolina Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore has yet to live up to those lofty expectations through six weeks. Entering a Week 7 matchup against the New Orleans Saints, can Moore find his connection with Teddy Bridgewater and be the player we think he can be in fantasy, or will they be just off again? And more importantly, what is DJ Moore’s fantasy outlook moving forward for the remainder of the 2020 NFL season?
DJ Moore was set to be the next wide receiver to enter elite territory
2019 showed us a glimpse of how good DJ Moore could be as he took a massive step forward from his rookie campaign into his second season. Moore was in the upper-echelon of the NFL in several categories, outscoring players like Chris Godwin, Odell Bechkam Jr., Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, and more in fantasy as the WR10 on the year.
Moore was 10th in the NFL in targets (135), and receptions (87), eighth in yards (1175), and was top-25 in yards per target (8.7) and yards per reception (13.5) amongst players who caught at least 40 passes. The former Maryland Terrapin routinely flashed his 4.43 speed and his ability to use his entire route tree to get open while being hampered by one of the least accurate quarterbacks in the NFL last year in Kyle Allen.
For perspective, of the 31 quarterbacks who attempted 25 or more passes beyond 20 yards down the field, Allen had the worst completion percentage in the NFL at a mere 11% (29.6% adjusted).
For Moore to have had the season he did was incredible. He showed that his talent level could translate to the field, and because of that, expectations were high for Moore this season – especially because of a new head coach in Matt Rhule and an offensive coordinator in Joe Brady who loves to push the ball down the field. Throw in Teddy Bridgewater, and there was a recipe for instant success…or so we thought.
DJ Moore and Teddy Bridgewater have failed to find their chemistry so far
While there have been glimpses of success together, the two have been slow to get on the same page. You have to wonder how much of that is due to the lack of a typical offseason program and learning a new system. During last week’s game against the Chicago Bears, one play was a perfect example of how being just a foot off can have a colossal impact on the play’s outcome.
Coming out of the two-minute warning, DJ Moore got separation from cornerback Buster Skrine off the line of scrimmage. Bridgewater had a clean pocket and plenty of time to make the pass. But when the ball arrived, Moore had to extend his left arm, attempting to make a tough one-handed grab. While the third-year wideout initially had a grip on the ball, he couldn’t hold on to complete the catch.
“I think just coming out of that break, Teddy’s expecting him to be a little bit higher on the angle, DJ went a little flatter, and they just didn’t hit,” Rhule said. “Teddy’s expecting one angle, he ran another angle, and we didn’t hit it. So we came in as coaches today and said we have to do a better job of getting more reps and maybe cutting down on some of those things.”
If Carolina had gone through a standard spring and summer routine, Moore and Bridgewater might have been closer to the same page. While Moore had a solid day, catching five of his 11 targets for 93 yards, we think “what if” when looking back on last week and how much better it could have been, especially when you look at a few of the drops he had as well.
Moore has still been plenty productive in 2020, catching 27 passes for 474 yards on 48 targets. He’s second on the team in receiving yards and third in receptions. While he is getting outpaced by Robby Anderson, he leads the entire team in air yards with 559 and is seeing a 24% target share.
It is just a matter of time until the connection turns into what all believe it can be. That could start as soon as Week 7, even against a solid New Orleans Saints defense.
DJ Moore will be a mid-WR2 in a problematic matchup
While DJ Moore’s fantasy and physical potential is enough to win nearly any matchup, he gets a challenging task this week, matching up against Saints’ CB Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore has the speed to keep up with Moore (4.36 40-yard) and has a height advantage (two inches).
While he allows a catch rate of 79%, most teams have stayed away from targeting his matchup, and has been targeted on only 12% of his routes covered. Allowing only 0.38 fantasy points per route, Moore and Bridgewater will have to be fully locked in as this will be the most formidable individual matchup he has seen so far.
Allowing the eight-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers (32.62), the Panthers could be in for a difficult time. When looking at DJ Moore’s fantasy outlook, there is no reason to discount the WR’s value entirely as he has still gotten over 90 yards in three games.
If there is one place where the Saints are susceptible, it is allowing touchdowns. The Saints have also allowed a touchdown every 10.4 targets to wide receivers, which is more often than any other team in the league. While touchdowns have not been Moore’s forte, he could see a few chances this week and end up a lower-end WR1 if he can find the endzone.
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