Catching Up With The Moores
One of the most exciting parts about playing fantasy football is draft day. It doesn’t matter if it is a startup league, a redraft, or a seasoned dynasty league, the prospect of adding players and especially rookies to your roster is exhilarating. The names are big and the expectations are high when it comes to the yearly crop of rookies. Selecting the right rookies can make or break a team and in turn, make or break your legacy as a manager.
This year’s crop of WR rookies are an interesting bunch to say the least. Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, and DeVonta Smith certainly lead the class, but a manager will need to be aggressive to land one of them. WRs are an extremely important fantasy football asset (mainly due to their longevity) and navigating the lower tiers of this rookie group becomes a bit murky. However, there are two rookie WRs that are definitely worth a deep dive look into. Elijah and Rondale Moore, although not blood related, bear very similar measurables. Each may help your team but which Moore is the one to draft?
Tale of the Tape
Elijah Moore was drafted by the New York Jets in the second round with the 34th pick overall. The WR out of Ole Miss stands at 5’9 and 1/2”, weighs in at 178 pounds, and clocked a 4.35 40 yard dash at his pro day.
Rondale Moore was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the second round with the 49th pick overall. The WR out of Purdue stands at 5’7”, tips the scales at 181 pounds, and posted a 4.32 40 yard dash at his pro day.
As you can appreciate, fantasy players will need to dive deeper than the tale of the tape in order to find out just what separates the Moores when it comes to their fantasy football impact.
At Ole Miss, Elijah Moore had a very successful collegiate career. From 2018-2020, Moore played in 31 games where he amassed 189 receptions, 2,441 yards, and 16 TDs. In 2020, he was named a Consensus All-American while breaking current Tennessee Titan A.J. Browns’ school record for receptions with 86.
In 2020, Elijah lined up for 403 offense snaps where 99.6% of them were in the slot. His sweet spot was down the middle of the field where 74% of his catches occurred. Elijah led the country in 2020 by averaging 10.75 catches and 149.1 yards per game. In his freshman year, Elijah took 109 snaps as a kick and punt returner, handling the ball 39 times for 355 yards. He handled a few more punts after that but failed to make any more appearances in the kick return game.
At Purdue, Rondale Moore had an outstanding freshman year. He caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 TDs. Rondale added 21 carries for 213 yards and two more TDs on the ground. He was named the 2018 Paul Hornung Award winner for the most versatile player. Rondale did not play during the 2019 season due to a hamstring injury and he opted out of 2020 due to Covid-19 after three games.
In 2018, Rondale lined up for 477 offensive snaps, 91.6% of them in the slot. He spread the field pretty well with 49.3% of his catches coming down the middle of the field. Rondale finished the year with a 11.0 yard per catch average and 96.8 yards per game. He was also a legitimate special teams player fielding 119 kick returns for 744 yards.
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For Elijah Moore, Antonio Brown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the model comparison. Brown was a target machine garnering 20% of the Buccaneers looks at 7.6 per game. He is sure-handed, like Moore, having zero drops in 2020. For his career, Brown has 920 touches for 11,865 yards and 79 TDs. He has been named to the Pro Bowl seven times and was named to the First-Team All-Pro four times. Not surprisingly Brown is a huge performer in fantasy football. During his prime, from 2014 to 2018, Brown finished as the WR1, WR1, WR3, WR2, WR2 in standard fantasy scoring during the five year span. In 2020, Brown averaged 14.6 fantasy points per game.
Perhaps the most valuable quality that Elijah possesses is the way he continually grows and improves as a player. It is an understatement to say that he evolved into an active slot receiver. Year after year Elijah’s progression was astounding. In his final three games, he posted 39 receptions for 602 yards and five TDs. That is the type of upside that the Jets are hoping for in the years to come.
Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks is the best NFL comparison to Rondale Moore. Both possess a level of explosiveness on the field that is rare. In 95 games played, Lockett has amassed 414 touches, 5148 yards and 38 TDs. He has scored 28 TDs in the last three years and ran 54.9% of his 492 offensive snaps from the slot. As a returner on special teams, Lockett has returned the ball 270 times for 4,256 yards and two touchdowns. In 2020, Lockett ranked 11th at the WR position in standard scoring for fantasy football. He was 9th in targets with 133, 5th in receptions with 100, and was T-6th in TDs with 10. All of that translated into 165.4 fantasy points.
With their second round pick, the Arizona Cardinals drafted Rondale for his explosiveness and versatility. In his first ever college game versus Northwestern, Rondale totaled 313 all purpose yards, highlighted by a 76-yard TD run. He is the rare type of multifaceted football player that can also be a game changer.
Mercifully, for Jets fans, the Adam Gase debacle is over. The 2020 season saw the Gase-led Jets finish last in points, last in plays, and last in yards. In the other meaningful categories, they were not much better. It was no surprise to anyone that with the first four picks of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets selected four offensive players, including Elijah Moore.
Elijah’s potential fantasy impact during his rookie season will be dependent on the new coaching staff and their offensive philosophy. Head Coach Robert Saleh brings with him 17 years of coaching experience, only ONE of which was on the offensive side of the ball. Suffice it to say Saleh is a defensive minded coach. In contrast, Mike Lafleur brings with him eight years of coaching experience, all of it on the offensive side of the ball. He spent three years learning from Kyle Shanahan and is also the younger brother of Green Bay Packer head coach Matt Lafleur, an offensive-minded football coach himself.
Elijah does face some challenges in the upcoming 2020 season. Rookie QB Zach Wilson may perform well next year, but the reality is, the Jets will be going through some growing pains as they learn a new offensive scheme. Elijah currently sits fourth on the Jets WR depth chart behind newly acquired free agent Corey Davis, sophomore Denzel Mims, and veteran Jamison Crowder.
The 2020 season for the Arizona Cardinals was a weird one to say the least. Kliff Kingsbury’s group finished 12th in total defense and 13th in total offense, but only managed to finish the season with a record of 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Untimely defensive miscues were a major contributing factor to losses so the Cardinals addressed that issue with five out of their first six picks being on the defensive side. But with the 49th pick in the draft, the Cardinals chose Rondale Moore.
On the surface, Rondale’s fantasy outlook for his rookie season is full of promise. He has Klingsbury’s creative play calling and QB Kyler Murray throwing him the ball. In fact, Murray was ranked third among quarterbacks for standard fantasy scoring in 2020. And the Cardinals offense utilizes a four WR set more than any other team in the NFL by a wide margin. In 2020, the Cardinals lined up with four wideouts 20% of the time. Combine that with his special team abilities, Rondale should be on the field frequently.
But as with many rookies, the depth chart and pecking order pose problems. Rondale will be competing with the likes of superstar DeAndre Hopkins, newly signed veteran A.J. Green, and third year receiver Christian Kirk for targets. Hopkins alone consumed 26.9% of the Cardinals passing targets and was second in the league with 10 targets per game. Working his way into a significant role with the offense will depend extensively on how well Rondale develops a rapport with Murray and how much offseason work he puts into upgrading his route running.
Who to Pick?
When that ‘DRAFT’ button lights up and the clock starts running out on your pick, rational thought and empirical reasoning do not always find their way to the forefront. Sometimes, fantasy managers just guess. But in any situation where you are faced with the choice between Elijah or Rondale Moore, draft Rondale.
Rondale is the more explosive of the two Moores. Although Elijah may be the safer, more reliable receiver, when it comes to fantasy football, Rondale is the better rookie to own shares of. His versatility as a punt and kick returner adds to the depth of his ability to produce for your fantasy team. He is in a better offensive situation with the better QB. Rondale will have more opportunities to succeed in a plug and play offense that is suited to his strengths. Elijah will certainly evolve in the NFL much like he did in college but for immediate fantasy football impact, Rondale Moore is the Moore you want on your roster.
Thank you for reading my article. Agree or disagree with my analysis of the Moores? Please leave a comment or message me @jferris72
Editor: Joe Simonetti (@joesimonetti77)
Graphic work: Dan Made Graphics (@DanMadeGraphics)