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Draft D.J. Moore Over Corey Davis In All Formats

Both D.J. Moore and Corey Davis are college phenoms who have yet to be relevant in the NFL, so they are apt for comparison. Davis’ ADP is six rounds higher in redraft and three rounds higher in dynasty.

Per the RotoViz MFL10 ADP App and RotoViz Dynasty ADP App:

Player

June MFL10 ADP

June Dynasty ADP

Corey Davis

69

53

D.J. Moore

139

92

But the public is wrong. Moore should be more valuable than Davis in all fantasy football formats.

To formulate a valuation for these two raw and unproven players, I broke down the predictive analytics behind their college production and their breakout potential. Additionally, I considered their situations in 2018 and beyond. A complete look at the data suggests that Moore should be drafted ahead of Davis in both redraft and dynasty.

College Production

Anthony Amico identified Final Year Dominator Rating – a RotoViz metric that measures a WR’s market share of receiving yards and touchdowns in his final college season – as the most significant variable in his model that predicts NFL success for WRs.

Player Final Yr Adj Dominator Rating Historic Ranking
D.J. Moore 0.532 8
Corey Davis 0.455 22

Moore’s 0.532 Final Year Adjusted Dominator rating is the eighth highest of all time. Davis’ 0.455 Final Year Adjusted Dominator Rating, which ranks 22nd all time, is also excellent, but quite a bit lower than Moore’s.

The Phenom Index is another RotoViz tool used to predict NFL WR performance based off college production. Jon Moore showed that the average phenom score of a top 12 fantasy WR in the NFL over the last four years is 2.195.

Player Phenom Index
D.J. Moore 4.64
Corey Davis 2.2

Moore registered a 4.64 to Davis’ 2.2. To quote Jon:

Not only is D.J. Moore’s score the highest in this year’s class, it is the highest score ever achieved by a receiver invited to the combine. For perspective, the next few names on the (unedited) list are: Allen Robinson, Demaryius Thomas, Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant, Kenny Britt and Amari Cooper.

Both receivers score in the elite outcome range in Anthony Amico’s model that predicts NFL success for WRs.

Player Amico Model Predict Historic Rank
Corey Davis 235 4
D.J. Moore Pre-Draft 221 8
D.J. Moore Post-Draft 202 12

Davis’ college production gives him a higher raw projection, but Moore’s projection is also elite and is accompanied by prodigious Phenom Index and Dominator Ratings. It is difficult to deem either receiver superior to the other by their college production.

Breakout Potential

NFL “breakout” was termed by RotoViz to define the first successful season a player has in the league. I’m using a 200+ PPR point season (approximate WR2) as the breakout threshold for these NFL first-round receivers.

Since 2000, 16 first round WRs have broken out in Year 1, and 14 first round WRs have broken out in Year 2. This data suggests that by their career timelines, Moore and Davis have nearly the same chance to breakout in 2018.

Both players have a sub-20 RotoViz adjusted college breakout age.1 Moore’s is 19.7 and Davis’s is 19.4. Amico showed that 45 percent of WRs who have a college breakout age below 20 have broken out in the first three years of their NFL career, compared to only 8.9 percent of WRs who have a college breakout age that is higher than 20. Moore and Davis both pass this test.

Moore will be a 21-year-old rookie. Davis was a 22-year-old rookie. Blair Andrews showed that this age difference is important.  Blair showed that 40 percent of 21-year-old rookie WRs have broken out in their NFL career, compared to a rate of only 20 percent for 22-year-old rookie WRs. This metric is key because it suggests that Moore is at least twice as likely to break out as Davis is.

Player Rookie Age Career Breakout Chance
D.J. Moore 21 40%
Corey Davis 22 20%

Despite his injuries, Davis’s historically poor rookie season cannot be ignored. Since 2000, 34 first round WRs scored fewer than 100 PPR points in their rookie year. Only two, or six percent, of those receivers had a breakout in Year 2. This is a gigantic red flag for Davis’ outlook, both in dynasty and redraft. Davis would be a significant outlier if he scores 200 PPR points in 2018. To add on to the dynasty implications of this, Blair showed that a third-year breakout for WRs is far less likely than a first- or second-year breakout, so if Davis doesn’t produce a WR32 season in 2018, then it becomes increasingly likely that he never will.

Their breakout metrics have many similarities, but Moore’s rookie-year age combined with Davis’ historically bad rookie year indicate that Moore is much more likely to break out in 2018 and in ensuing years than Davis is.

Situation

Davis will have only a slight volume advantage over Moore in 2018. From a personnel standpoint, Moore is actually in a superior situation.

Team Wide Receiver Target Volume

Tennessee’s running backs had a combined 14 percent target market share (MS) in 2017, and a combined 17 percent MS in 2016.  Evan Silva recently tweeted this:

To break it down in terms of MS:

Team Under LaFleur Combined RB Target Market Share
Rams 2017 19.5%
Falcons 2016 21.8%
Falcons 2015 20%

Titans RBs will receive a higher MS in 2018 under LaFleur than in years past.

In comparison, given that Norv Turner only fed LaDanian Tomlinson, one of the most dominant pass-catching RBs of all time, an 18 percent and 16 percent MS, Christian McCaffrey‘s 23 percent MS from 2017 is likely to regress this year.

McCaffrey will still soak up more targets than the Titans’ backs, but the overall MS left for Tennessee WRs and Carolina WRs will be similar.

Surrounding Personnel

Davis and Moore both sit behind 33 year-old elite TEs who have consistently led their respective team in targets. But, unlike Delanie Walker, Greg Olsen has already begun to transition into retirement. Olsen is coming off an injury-riddled season and appears to have one foot in the broadcast booth and one on the field. Walker’s declaration that he can play four more seasons is a stark contrast.

Josh Hermsmeyer’s Game Speed Data shows that Walker probably has more left in the tank since he actually got faster last year.  Olsen, on the other hand, experienced a drop off in his game speed and was below average at the TE position in 2017.

Player Speed (FUPA/FAPA) 2016 Speed (FUPA/FAPA) 2017 Diff
Delanie Walker -2.3 14.2 16.5
Greg Olsen 6.3 -3.2 -9.5

The writing is on the wall for Olsen not to make it through 2018 in his normal form. There is an impending massive target opportunity for Moore that could develop as early as halfway through this season. Davis, on the other hand, is faced with a temporary target blockage from Walker.

Rishard Matthews should also command more targets in Tennessee than Devin Funchess in Carolina. Josh Hermsmeyer’s Receiver Efficiency Data shows that Matthews is much better than Funchess.3

Player Catch Rate aDOT RACR
Rishard Matthews 0.61 12.6 0.71
Devin Funchess 0.5 12.9 0.56

Matthews’ performance the last two years has solidified his role in the Titans’ receiving corps. The only thing Funchess’ 50 percent career catch rate at a nearly identical target depth has done is to cast doubts on his ability to function as the team’s WR1.  Funchess’ three-year stint of inefficiency gives the Panthers little incentive to target him, and the fact that they drafted Moore in the first round suggests they already know this. Moore has an easier path to target volume than you might think.

In Review

Category Winner
College Production Push
Breakout Potential Moore
2018 Situation Push
Situation for 2019 and Beyond Moore – better opportunity to establish dominant target share following departure of other Carolina pass-catchers. Davis’s competition has more longevity.

There is a bevy of proof that Moore has more value than Davis in both redraft and dynasty. Their target situations are similar in value, and their college production is a clear wash. The huge differentiator is in their breakout potential. To reiterate, Moore has a much higher chance to succeed than Davis because of Moore’s younger rookie-year age and Davis’ catastrophic rookie year. The six-round redraft ADP difference and a three-round dynasty ADP difference, both in favor of Davis, present massive buying opportunities. Fade Davis at his price and draft Moore — everywhere — at his price. I would rather own Moore than Davis in both redraft and dynasty.

  1. College breakout is defined differently than the 200+ PPR threshold previously mentioned for an NFL breakout. The article linked in the next sentence clarifies the definition of college breakout.  (back)
  2. This article of Blair’s uses WR3 as the breakout threshold. All other referenced material in this article uses 200+ PPR (WR2) as the NFL breakout threshold.  (back)
  3. Numbers are calculated over Matthews’ and Funchess’ years with their current team.  (back)

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