In The Blitz, RotoViz writers react to the latest news and help you place it within the context of our 2020 research and recommendations.
As the 2020 season comes to a close, I often spend significant time looking for young wide receivers who I think can take that next step in the coming season. It’s not always rookies who catch my eye, but in this case, there’s a young, athletic wide receiver for the Chicago Bears who peaked in Week 17. Darnell Mooney may only have fifth-round draft capital behind him, but he’s making a strong case to see a massive uptick in usage as a sophomore.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (ankle) left Sunday’s contest versus Green Bay before its conclusion due to an ankle ailment that he sustained earlier in the game. Prior to his departure, Mooney hauled in career highs with 11 receptions for 93 yards. Mooney ends his rookie regular-season with impressive production that included 61 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns, giving him significant season-long fantasy intrigue heading into 2021, no matter who his quarterback may be. Should Chicago finagle their way into the postseason, fantasy managers will want to check back to further monitor Mooney’s injury status. Any absence from Mooney would lead to Allen Robinson II and Anthony Miller seeing an even larger role in the team’s offense moving forward.
Promising Rookie Campaign
In his rookie season, Mooney saw at least five targets in 12 of his final 14 games, peaking with 11 receptions on 13 targets in Week 17 before leaving with an ankle injury. That’s ample opportunity for a Day 3 draft pick who didn’t have much of a training camp or offseason program to get up to speed with his new team. Mooney tested well at the NFL Combine by running a 4.38 and demonstrating above average explosiveness. He earned exciting athletic comps such as Tyler Lockett and John Brown.
Following the 2020 NFL Draft, Shawn Siegele used the WR Prospect Lab to uncover fliers to stash and watch in dynasty leagues. He had this to say about Mooney:
Darnell Mooney may be the speed receiver you didn’t know you needed. He blazed a 4.38 at the combine after averaging over 20 yards a catch in 2018. Mooney posted a whopping 47% Dominator Rating that season in Tulane’s low-volume attack. He was good enough as a junior that Matt Wispe profiled his strong sleeper status had he declared a season ago.
Looking to Next Season
The Bears had trouble deciding which quarterback to roll with throughout the season. They started with Mitchell Trubisky, switched to Nick Foles for a few weeks during the middle of the season, and finished the season with Trubisky again. On paper, they were a much better team offensively with Trubisky under center, and it’s not particularly close.
They averaged almost twice as many points/game and a full touchdown and a half more through the air with Trubisky at the helm. Mooney flashed well when given the opportunity and fits the profile of a complementary WR2 behind Robinson, who is the clear WR1. However, Robinson is a pending free agent this offseason, which can shake up the wide receiver room in Chicago. Regardless, I would be targeting Mooney in dynasty leagues this offseason, sooner rather than later, and bet on him taking an excellent step forward next season.