Donte Moncrief: A Must-Have Wide Receiver
After a disappointing 2016 campaign in which he registered 30 receptions for 307 yards receiving and seven touchdowns, Donte Moncrief is no longer viewed as a consensus breakout candidate in the fantasy football landscape. Fortunately, this has resulted in a reduction in the wide receiver’s ADP this offseason. At the present time, Moncrief owns an average draft position of 67.0 or the WR32 overall in PPR scoring. Based on the amount of buzz the Mississippi product received at this point last year, it is safe to assert that Moncrief can now be acquired at a more reasonable rate in comparison to his sample of NFL output. From a dynasty perspective, the 23-year-old is viewed as a near consensus top-fifty selection based on ADP and expert rankings across the industry. In this article, I will provide various reasons why Moncrief is actually overlooked at his current valuation. Even more, I will attempt to convince those that doubt the wide receiver’s fantasy value into believing that he is a must-own asset for 2017.
To begin, it’s important to consider Moncrief’s collegiate pedigree as a reason to support his future prospects. The wide receiver attended Ole Miss from 2011 to 2013. Over the span of his three seasons at Mississippi, Moncrief accumulated 156 receptions for 2,371 yards receiving and 20 touchdowns. In the process, he averaged 15.1 yards per catch across his trio of college campaigns. Moncrief’s impressive output translated to a third-round NFL selection in 2014 and has resulted in lucrative fantasy expectations ever since.
To this point, Moncrief’s lustrous college resume has failed to transfer itself over to the NFL level. Regardless, he offers considerable upside as a breakout candidate in 2017 based on his professional sample size of production and brief flashes of elite talent. A case can be made that Moncrief has yet to touch the surface of his statistical ceiling in the NFL, making him an appealing target as he prepares for his fourth campaign with the Indianapolis Colts. In a sense, Moncrief is a must-have player for fantasy purposes due to his inexpensive asking price in comparison to his potential ceiling of production. In hopes to emerge and deliver on such expectations, he has shed just shy of 10 pounds this offseason to refine his conditioning.
Over the span of three NFL campaigns, Moncrief has delivered WR79 (2014), WR37 (2015) and WR76 (2016) finishes in PPR formats. His output has been less than stellar, but volume and usage rate indicate that the wide receiver’s role has been on the rise. Moncrief’s career-high in targets thus far rests at 105 (2015), but he did manage to earn 56 last season in a limited sample of nine regular season games.
Perhaps a stronger indicator of Moncrief’s offensive presence are his red zone targets over the course of the past two years. In the twenty-five contests he has been active for over that time frame, Moncrief has earned 22 such targets. Consider that over the same span, T.Y. Hilton has seen 28 red zone looks while missing zero NFL games. This indicates that Moncrief has carved out a consistent red zone role in Indianapolis’ aerial attack. On another note, Moncrief has scored a total of 13 receiving touchdowns over his past two campaigns while Hilton has done so 11 times. Of course, Hilton has dominated target share and overall output with four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. This trend can continue and Moncrief could still be able to find success in fantasy, as he scored a touchdown in seven out of a possible nine contests last season. While such end zone output is far from sustainable, it at least indicates that Moncrief has been able to make the most of his limited opportunities to this point in his three-year career.
Opposite Hilton, Moncrief is expected to serve as a focal point of the Indianapolis Colts’ offense this upcoming season. This trend began in 2015, but came to a screeching halt in 2016 because of lingering shoulder and hamstring injuries. Now fully recovered from his ailments, Moncrief should have little to no trouble holding off Phillip Dorsett and Kamar Aiken for a starting role.
Those who continue to doubt the talent of Moncrief often point to his less than inspiring yard per catch totals of 13.9 (2014), 11.5 (2015) and 10.2 (2016). While these metrics could be a cause for concern, it should be noted that Indianapolis’ new wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal intends to move Moncrief around the offensive formation more in 2017. In turn, this will provide him with more opportunities to excel after the catch and improve on his overall level of efficiency.
From a redraft standpoint, Moncrief should be valued as an upside WR3 based on the inconsistent production and availability over his three NFL seasons to date. After all, his best fantasy finish in PPR scoring so far is that of a back-end WR3. Even so, I would be willing to select Moncrief well above his present ADP as a back-end WR2 due to his immense ceiling and track record when on the gridiron.
In dynasty circles, I am even more bullish on Moncrief’s long-term value. In order to secure the wide receiver’s services in a startup draft, an owner will need to allocate a pick within the first four rounds based on offseason ADP. Albeit a risky proposition, drafting a player before their normal asking price is a necessity to secure them on a roster. This is especially the case if Moncrief does indeed prove to be a must-own asset in 2017 and beyond. Keep in mind that it’s better to acquire an ascending talent before a true breakout season occurs, as an increased price tag will be an inevitable outcome of possible success.