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Putting D.J. Moore in the Hall of Fame? The Elite Rookie Comps for the Panthers WR

Panthers WR D.J. Moore is next up as we take a look at the most comparable players for the 11 best rookie WRs from the 2018 class.

Moore was the first WR taken in the 2018 NFL Draft, 24th overall by the Carolina Panthers. He’s the youngest WR in the class, and he had the third-best breakout age at 19.7. He dominated with a 57 percent market share of yards in his final college season.

Much like he did in college, Moore was forced to make the best of a sub-par passing offense in the pros, with the Panthers placing 24th in pass attempts, 15th in yards, and 26th in average yards per attempt (3.9).

Still, among rookies, Moore finished:

  • Third in targets and second in receptions
  • Fourth in expected points but second in fantasy points, thanks to his 10.7 points above expectation
  • T-1st in rookie target market share (15 percent)
PLAYER reRECS.Q1 reTRGS.Q1 reYDS.Q1 reTDS.Q1 reEP.Q1 reFPOE.Q1 PPR.Q1
Calvin Ridley 64 92 821 10 150.5 55.6 208.8
D.J. Moore 55 82 788 2 135.1 10.7 160.2
Courtland Sutton 42 84 704 4 136.1 0.3 136.3
Antonio Callaway 43 81 586 5 136.2 -4.6 132.3
Christian Kirk 43 68 590 3 102.7 17.3 123.5
Anthony Miller 33 54 423 7 93.2 24.1 120.3
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 38 72 581 2 113.2 -5.1 111
Dante Pettis 27 45 467 5 75.2 28.5 103.5
Tre’Quan Smith 28 44 427 5 74.2 26.5 100.7
Robert Foster 26 44 522 3 71.5 24.7 96.2

THE COMPARABLES

Using inputs of target volume, production, efficiency, age, weight, and draft position, I used the RotoViz Screener to come up with the most similar rookie seasons to Moore’s since 2000.

As a prospect, Moore approaches pristine, and the result is comparisons containing one surefire Hall of Famer and another who is on his way.

Larry Fitzgerald pops off the page, and while it’s pie in the sky stuff, it’s a legitimate comparison. Moore may not have had the same target profile as Fitzgerald, nor may he ever, but he had more yards than the living legend on 29 percent fewer targets. 

Dare to dream of DeAndre Hopkins. It’s another lofty comp, and while we may not think that Moore and Hopkins have much in common stylistically, they do bear an uncanny empirical resemblance. Also, how on earth did Hopkins last until 27th in the draft?

The rest of the “official” list is underwhelming. But I wanted to take a wider look at Moore’s range of outcomes, because I don’t think such a polarized, “Hall of Fame or Keary Colbert” outlook is fair or accurate. Let’s see who else the Screener likes.

The closest comps are near the top, so keep in mind that we’re losing signal as we go down the list. However, the three guys listed after Colbert represent a nice median for Moore, with Hakeem NicksSantonio Holmes, and Antonio Bryant accounting for multiple 1,000-yard seasons and WR1 finishes between them.
None of them are headed to the Hall, and we shouldn’t be putting Moore there yet, but if things fall right, he does have that kind of potential.

2019 Outlook

In previous pieces, we’ve looked at what our comps list did in Year 2, but we’re all familiar with the fantasy exploits of most of the players on this list.

It’s merely a matter of volume for Moore. All our metrics suggests that elite production is possible, but he needs the targets, something he started to see after Week 10.

Even if the Panthers remain a low-volume passing offense, Devin Funchess and (presumably) Greg Olsen have departed, freeing up 116 targets and 1,386 air yards. He’ll naturally inherit a larger share this season, and any uptick in team passing volume is a bonus.

Conclusion

Moore is a buy in dynasty, hopefully from an owner with fewer stars in his eyes who sees Cam Newton as an upside inhibitor. His price may be too steep in that format now, but he’s still got league-winning potential in the late-fourth and early-fifth rounds of best ball drafts — at least as much as some of the WRs going in front of him.

Check out the top comparables for the rest of the 2018 rookie WR class:
11. Michael Gallup
10. Robert Foster
9. Tre’Quan Smith
8. Dante Pettis
7. Marquez Valdes-Scantling
6. Anthony Miller
5. Christian Kirk
4. Antonio Callaway
3. Courtland Sutton

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