Game-By-Game Projections: D.J. Moore (2020 Fantasy Football)
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Despite the changes, I’m confident in Moore’s fantasy outlook entering 2020.
The Case for Moore
As new head coach Matt Rhule focuses on improving Carolina’s putrid defense, offensive coordinator Joe Brady will be responsible for making things click on offense. The former LSU coordinator decimated NCAA defenses with Joe Burrow last year, and now he’ll get to coach fellow South Floridian Bridgewater. The two worked together briefly in New Orleans, and Bridgewater is excited about the chance to play in his scheme again. And Lord knows, Brady loves to pass.
Enter D.J. Moore. The third-year receiver returns to a passing offense with Curtis Samuel, and Carolina’s since added Robby Anderson. The Panthers’ passing offense projects as one of the league’s fastest, and Brady should find a way to integrate the no-huddle to his advantage.
So in a pass-heavy, fast-paced scheme, Moore should see plenty of volume. That’s good news, especially because he’s in line for some positive touchdown regression! The only downside for Moore is that Bridgewater’s average depth of attempt (aDOA) was 6.1 yards, the lowest in the league, and five yards shorter than Moore’s 11.1 average depth of target (aDOT). So while Moore may lose some of the value generated by his 12th-most air yards, expect him to make up for it in receptions.
Moore ranks as the PPR WR11 entering the 2020 season in our expert consensus rankings (ECR). That’s below JuJu Smith-Schuster but ahead of Amari Cooper and Odell Beckham, Jr., and it’s right about where I’m taking him in mock drafts.
Week 1: vs. Raiders
Las Vegas will start their season on the east coast. Jon Gruden’s revamped secondary, which now features Prince Amukamara and Damon Arnette, should rank better than 30th against the pass. While Moore won’t blow them away, he’ll get enough volume for a solid fantasy performance.
Predicted Stat Line: 10 targets, 7 receptions, 68 yards, 1 TD (19.8 fantasy points).
Week 2: at Buccaneers
It’s Round One of the Brady Battles! Panthers’ offensive coordinator Joe Brady takes on Tom Brady in this one, and it should be a pass-heavy game. The Buccaneers hosted a pass-funnel defense last year, as they ranked first against the run and 12th against the pass. They may not bottle up McCaffrey completely, but Joe Brady will exploit the airways as the path of least resistance. Since Moore earned double-digit targets in both games against Tampa Bay last year, I’m comfortable projecting him to hit that mark again.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 targets, 9 receptions, 95 yards (18.5 fantasy points).
Week 3: at Chargers
The Chargers ranked 20th against the pass last year. They landed star cornerback Chris Harris in the offseason, however, and he should work well with Derwin James and Desmond King to limit opposing offenses. I expect Carolina to emphasize the run in this spot, so I’m tempering my expectations for Moore.
Predicted Stat Line: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 49 yards (8.9 fantasy points).
Week 4: vs. Cardinals
Yes, the Cards didn’t field an effective passing defense last year. They ranked 27th, and they didn’t add another corner early in this year’s draft. They’ll once again rely on an aging Patrick Peterson to anchor their secondary. However, Arizona effectively shut Moore down last year. Cornerback Chris Jones, who covered Moore, held him to just one catch on two targets. So while I’m not writing Moore off in this spot, I’m not projecting him for all-star numbers, either.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 62 yards, 1 TD (17.2 fantasy points).
Week 5: at Falcons
Moore played well against the Falcons last year. He caught 12 passes for 172 in two games, although most of that production came at home. Atlanta lost Desmond Trufant in the offseason, and though they added A.J. Terrell to replace him, I expect that their secondary will finish close to their 25th-place performance from last year.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 101 yards (17.1 fantasy points).
Week 6: vs. Bears
The Chicago Bears hosted the eighth-best defense against the pass last year. Without Prince Amukamara, I’m not confident that they can repeat that performance. Yes, they added Artie Burns, and yes, they still have Kyle Fuller, but I think it’s fair to project a slight downtick in efficiency. The Panthers should topple the struggling Bears in a close game, keeping Moore involved and on the field.
Predicted Stat Line: 10 targets, 6 receptions 77 yards, 1 TD (19.7 fantasy points).
Week 7: at Saints
The Saints lined P.J. Williams up against Moore last season, and he exploded for 126 yards and two scores. Marson Lattimore was hurt, however, and Moore didn’t play well against the Saints when he was around in 2018. Worse, New Orleans’ defense is familiar with Teddy Bridgewater and Joe Brady’s scheme. I don’t expect Moore to look good in this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 targets, 3 receptions, 43 yards (7.3 fantasy points).
Week 8: vs. Falcons
Moore will blow up in this home date against the Falcons. It should be a get-right matchup for Brady and Bridgewater, so look for them to throw all over Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
Predicted Stat Line: 14 targets, 8 receptions, 104 yards, 1 TD (24.4 fantasy points).
Week 9: at Chiefs
The Chiefs return most of their sixth-ranked passing defense in 2020, so they should be able to limit their opponents’ passing offenses. I fully expect Patrick Mahomes and company to get out to an early lead in this once, however, and that will force Bridgewater to try and come from behind. Moore should get plenty of volume in this spot.
Predicted Stat Line: 12 targets, 7 receptions, 74 yards (14.4 fantasy points).
Week 10: vs. Buccaneers
Another matchup with the Bucs means another big day for Moore. I think he’ll even cross the goal line in this one.
Predicted Stat Line: 12 targets, 9 receptions, 112 yards, 1 TD (26.2 fantasy points).
Week 11: vs. Lions
The Lions’ secondary is much improved from last season. They replaced Darius Slay with both Jeff Okudah and Desmond Trufant, and while it may take time for the duo to gel, they should have their mojo by Week 11. Look for Matt Patricia’s defense to limit Moore’s effectiveness as Carolina opts to run the ball down their throat.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 targets, 5 receptions, 56 yards (10.6 fantasy points).
Week 12: at Vikings
The Vikings parted ways with Xavier Rhodes in the offseason, but the corner was an ineffective member of their seventh-ranked passing defense. They added Jeff Gladney in the draft, and he’ll join Mike Hughes atop their depth chart. I don’t think Minnesota’s defense will be one to target in 2020, so expect Moore to post mediocre numbers in this Bridgewater revenge game.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 62 yards (12.2 fantasy points).
Week 13: BYE
Week 14: vs. Broncos
Yikes. The Broncos are not a team that you want your WR1 or WR2 to face in the fantasy playoffs. Yes, they lost Chris Harris, but they added A.J. Bouye to replace him. Also, a healthy Bradley Chubb combined with Von Miller and Jurrell Casey makes for a scary pass rush. Bridgewater won’t have much time to throw here, so most of Moore’s few targets will go for relatively little yardage.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 54 yards (11.4 fantasy points).
Week 15: at Packers
The Packers are a good draw for Moore. Sure, their defense ranked ninth against the pass last year, but their secondary is vulnerable behind cornerback Jaire Alexander and safety Adrian Amos. Moore lined up against the struggling Kevin King last season, and he burned him for nine catches and 120 yards on 11 targets. If the Packers leave King on Moore again, it’s safe to expect big things from him.
Predicted Stat Line: 12 targets, 9 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD (25.5 fantasy points).
Week 16: at Washington
Riverboat Ron takes on his former franchise in the Panthers’ penultimate game. You’d be hard-pressed to find any experts that have both of these teams still in playoff contention in Week 16, so who knows what their starting lineups will look like. But as long as the Panthers keep starting Bridgewater, Moore should be a safe bet to post fantasy numbers.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 77 yards (14.7 fantasy points).
Week 17: vs. Saints
The Panthers end their season against the Saints. New Orleans could have the division locked up by now, or they might need another win to top the Buccaneers or the Falcons. Worse-case, I expect that they’ll fight hard for a bye — especially after their early playoff exit last season. If your league keeps going into Week 17, I recommend leaving Moore in your lineup here.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 66 yards (12.6 fantasy points).
Final 2020 Projections
Final Stat Line: 157 targets, 105 receptions, 1,205 yards, 6 TDs (260.5 fantasy points).
I feel comfortable projecting Moore to post career-highs in each of these categories. While 1,205 would be a career-high in yardage, his yards per catch should fall off from 13.5 last year to around 11.4. Yes, Moore still must compete with Curtis Samuel and Robby Anderson, but both of those guys are burners, and Bridgewater favors shorter throws.
If Moore posted these numbers last year, he would’ve finished as the WR7. Last year’s WR6, Keenan Allen, scored 261.5 points, and WR7 Julian Edelman posted 256.3. Moore’s projected 16.3 points per game would’ve ranked eighth, tying him with Keenan Allen. Moore posted 15.4 points per game last year, so a volume-based increase of .9 seems realistic.
Overall, Moore should play like a low-end WR1 in 2020. Both his WR11 ECR and WR9 ADP make sense, and I feel comfortable taking him in the third round of fantasy drafts.