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Fantasy Football ADP – Draft Tyler Lockett or D.J. Moore?

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(All summer, Adam Pfeifer will be putting the tightest fantasy football picks under the microscope in our ADP Decisions series.)

The wide receiver position is absolutely loaded in fantasy, which is why many tend to address the running back position early and then hammer wideouts in the middle rounds. Two fantastic receiver targets in that range are D.J. Moore of the Carolina Panthers and Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks. Both players have immense upside, so below I’m looking at which receiver stands out just a bit more to me entering the 2021 campaign. 

Let’s break it all down.

The case for D.J. Moore

As far as I’m concerned, Moore has only scratched the surface of his full potential. Despite hauling in 19 fewer passes in 2020, Moore still recorded 1,193 receiving yards. He’s been fantastic in that department over the last two seasons, ranking 11th and ninth during that span. The touchdowns, of course, haven’t been there, but Moore has room to grow in that category. He has, however, remained very good after the catch, as he averaged the 11th-most yards after the catch per reception last year (6.02). But in his first year under new offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Moore was used way more down the field, which gave him higher-upside targets but a bit less consistency. In 2019, Moore averaged 9.1 yards before the catch per reception, but that number jumped up to 12.3 this past season. Meanwhile, his average depth of target jumped from 11.7 yards to 13.6, while his 10.1 yards per target was good for the ninth-best mark in football. And while the yardage was great, as Moore recorded at least 70 yards in eight games, his catch rate dropped from 64% to 55%. Teddy Bridgewater struggled with the deep ball and wasn’t always willing to throw it deep. Just over 10% of his pass attempts traveled 20 yards or more down the field, which was slightly below league average. And in particular, 7.1% of his passes were to the deep left portion of the field, the eighth-lowest rate among qualified passers. Moore, meanwhile, lined up as the left wideout a little bit more than he did on the right side.

Entering 2021, I expect some things to change for Moore. For starters, he has a new quarterback, and while it remains to be seen if Sam Darnold is an upgrade, I expect Moore’s usage to change in this offense. In 2020, Moore lined up in the slot around 20% of the time, which is an insanely low number. Curtis Samuel, meanwhile, was in the slot around 60% of the time and he’s now in Washington. Carolina brought in Terrace Marshall, who played in the slot last year at LSU, but that was more because he was clearly their top offensive player and the team wanted to manufacture touches for him. In this offense, he’ll likely play out wide, and he’ll especially play out wide more than Samuel did last year. This should push Moore inside much more, which is very exciting for fantasy, especially with his YAC ability. His catch rate will be higher and Darnold has had a track record of targeting the slot at a high rate so far in his career. 

Finally, while he isn’t likely to score double-digit touchdowns, I do expect Moore to find pay dirt at a higher rate this season. Per our advanced stats, Moore saw 37.5% of the Panthers end-zone targets last year, the second-highest rate among all receivers. However, he didn’t catch a single pass inside the end zone all year long, while Carolina’s overall red zone offense sputtered, scoring touchdowns on just 50% of their trips, a bottom-five rate in the league. 

The case for Tyler Lockett

Lockett finished the season as the WR8 in PPR leagues, hauling in 100 balls for 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns. Seattle finally went pass-heavy to open the season, which helped Lockett see over eight targets per game, a career-high. However, they went back to establishing the run during the second half, which led to some duds from Lockett. He had three massive games over the course of the season, scoring 53.0, 37.0 and 33.0 fantasy points in those games. Of course, we can’t complain at the end-of-season numbers, but it is fair to think Lockett’s targets per game will likely drop in 2021. The efficiency, however, is always going to be there with Russell Wilson, as the duo has been as efficient as anyone in football over the last few seasons. And that can often make up for the lack of volume. In 2020, Wilson led the NFL in both end zone throws (59) and end zone touchdown passes (29). As a result, Lockett finished the year with a healthy 14 end zone targets, tied for the fourth-most in the league.