Fantasy Football - Denarius Moore Player Spotlight
The only sure thing about Denarius Moore this season is that he is no sure thing. A very inconsistent, injury-riddled 2011 season gave fantasy owners headaches in 2011, but does he have enough upside for you to draft him in 2012? Moore, a rookie in 2011 drafted in the fifth round out of the University of Tennessee, got his first opportunity to showcase his talent in Week 2 against the Bills as Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy all nursed injuries. With five catches for 146 yards and a spectacular touchdown grab (shown below), he certainly proved what kind of potential he has in the league.
Despite the Raiders not having a first round pick, they managed to find a gem in the late rounds with Moore. Moore was thought to be one of the best players on the field in training camp and pre-season for the Raiders according to Steve Corkran, a beat writer for the Oakland Raiders. Even tight end Kevin Boss said that Moore was the best rookie that he has ever seen. Moore shined throughout camp, and the way he was playing, it wouldn't have shocked anyone if he stole one of the starting spots from Heyward-Bey or Ford.
After Moore's Week 2 breakout performance, head coach Hue Jackson had to put his play-making wide receiver on the field. In fact, by the end of 2011, Moore averaged 20 more snaps per game (44) than Ford (24) according to Pro Football Focus. Ford was forced to play the slot 40% of the time while Denarius Moore took 79% of his snaps as the outside receiver Pro Football Focus tells us.
However, Week 2 did not reflect Moore's season at all. Moore had some minor injuries, particularly an ankle injury, that limited him to 10 starts in 13 games, the three games not started were before he was granted the starting job. Another problem was Moore's hands. Moore caught just 45% of his passes in 2011 according to Pro Football Focus, but that's likely because of poor quarterback play at times and his average depth of target (18.5 yards) that finished second in the league behind only Torrey Smith. It's also of note that Ford's aDOT finished at 9.2 yards (down from 14.9 in 2010) and Heyward-Bey's aDOT was 14.6 (down from 19.3 in 2009 and 17.2 in 2010). Oakland is definitely a down-field passing offense, and these stats show it. However , this can lead to WR inconsistency which is something I try to avoid on draft day.
Another quality that did hurt Denarius Moore's fantasy value in 2011 was his ability to gain yards after the catch. He averaged 18.7 yards per reception, but only 4.0 yards after the catch (Ford averaged 7.8 and Heyward-Bey averaged 4.7 yards after the catch). This, again, could be a product of the bad quarterback play considering that a pass behind him could put him in a bad position giving the advantage to the defender.
The primary things that concern me heading in to this year are the crowded wide receiver corps and an offense that is spear headed by the noticeably weaker armed Carson Palmer, who threw for more interceptions than touchdowns in 2011. This kind of sounds similar to the 49ers offensive situation doesn't it?
Here's the thing, like Titus Young, if I can get Moore as my first bench receiver then I am extremely ecstatic at that, despite the risk. While there are many problems and questions surrounding Moore, he will get another year of experience and is being embraced as a starter in Oakland. Year-to-year I rarely find myself drafting Raiders receivers, but this is a guy that I will certainly take some risk for the incredible amount of upside and reward, especially in a dynasty.
Verdict: Buy as the upside and rewards outweigh the risks , but make sure to account for the risks I outlined above.
When: He's ranked 34th in Fantasy Football Calculator's ADP where he goes early in Round 8 in 12-team leagues. He's ranked 25th on my board so early in Round 8 sounds about right in any format for a WR as explosive as Moore.
Fantasy Role: WR3 and a strong matchup Flex play at times. Remember that he struggled against top corners like Jonathan Joseph in 2011 and he took advantage of exploited weak defenses.
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