2023 Fantasy Football Player Profile: D.J. Moore has a clearer path to targets with Bears

2M633BR Tampa Bay, Florida, USA, January 1, 2023, Carolina Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore #2 makes a run during the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium. (Photo by Marty Jean-Louis/Sipa USA)

D.J. Moore is the best receiver in Chicago since prime Allen Robinson II: Moore consistently played well with the Carolina Panthers and is a major upgrade from the Bears' massive receiver rotation last season.

He faces less competition in Chicago: Moore typically dealt with Christian McCaffrey taking targets out of the backfield in Carolina, as well as generally better wide receivers.

This is a make-or-break year for Justin Fields: Other young quarterbacks saw dramatic improvements after gaining a new true WR1. Fields will ideally follow that same path.

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Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Thursday, July 13

Player Outlook

Moore will have a fresh start after spending the first five years of his career with the Carolina Panthers.

  • Moore spent 2019-2021 consistently gaining between 1,150 and 1200 receiving yards and averaging four touchdowns per season.
  • His receptions and receiving yards declined in 2022, but he posted a career-high seven touchdowns.
  • Moore has finished as a top-25 fantasy receiver in each of the past four seasons.
  • He has excelled at making players miss after making a catch, avoiding 0.8 tackles per game in his career — the 11th-best rate among wide receivers in the past five seasons.
  • Moore has also been good at making big plays, with 27% of his receptions gaining at least 20 yards last season, which ranked fifth out of 73 wide receivers with at least 345 routes.
  • Moore excels against man defenses. His 0.578 receiving PPR points per route run against man defenses last season ranked 10th.
  • Moore has accomplished all this despite his quarterbacks combining for a 55.8 PFF passing grade over the past five seasons, the second-lowest team mark.
  • He has caught touchdowns from six quarterbacks in his career. Two are free agents and two are clear backups, leaving Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield as his best two quarterbacks. Both are fighting for starting jobs in 2023.

Competition for Touches

Moore is used to having some competition for targets and could see a target share increase in Chicago.

  • He had to fight for targets with Christian McCaffrey, Chosen Anderson and Curtis Samuel while with the Panthers. In 2020, he faced competition for targets from all three, and the four players all achieved a 20%-plus targets-per-route-run rate.
  • The Bears' receiving room was a mess last season, with seven different players running at least 70 routes. There were multiple games where Chicago used a heavy five- or six-man rotation.
  • The Bears had a decent receiving back in David Montgomery, but he is no longer on the roster.
  • Darnell Mooney is the only wide receiver of a similar caliber to the top Panthers wide receivers in recent seasons.
  • Mooney has also shined at making players miss after the catch. He’s avoided 0.165 tackles per reception over the past three seasons which is tied for seventh.
  • Luckily, Mooney plays better in the slot and against zone defenses, while Moore plays better outside and against man. So the two receivers should be able to complement each other well.
  • Mooney finished 2022 with a 68.9 receiving grade, the highest on the team.
  • This should lead Moore’s targets-per-route-run figure to increase by a few percentage points this season.
  • Chase Claypool is expected to be the third wide receiver in three-receiver sets, with Equanimeous St. Brown, Velus Jones Jr. and Tyler Scott as the expected backups.

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Impact of Teammates

Moore would benefit greatly from Justin Fields blossoming as a passer, but he should be fine even if Fields doesn’t.

  • Fields’ 53.2% accuracy percentage last season wasn’t great, but it was better than Baker Mayfield’s 52.8% mark.
  • Moore should be able to succeed even if Fields doesn’t improve. It will be similar pass accuracy to what he’s been used to.
  • Fields scrambles more than most quarterbacks, but from Moore’s perspective, that won't be all that different than his quarterbacks dumping off passes to Christian McCaffrey.
  • Generally, pass accuracy can improve over a quarterback’s first few seasons. Those increases are more dramatic against man defenses than against zone.
  • There is even more optimism that Fields can improve his accuracy, as he was the most accurate college quarterback in the PFF College era.
  • Over the offseason, Fields has worked on his accuracy, particularly on deep passes, which should help Moore the most out of the Bears' receivers.
  • The Bears' offensive line will hopefully be improved in terms of pass protection. Lucas Patrick and Sam Mustipher were the team's two linemen with sub-60.0 PFF pass-blocking grades on more than 100 pass-blocking snaps. Mustipher is no longer on the roster, while Patrick will be a backup.
  • Chicago shook up the line with Nate Davis in free agency and Darnell Wright with the 10th-overall pick in the draft.
  • This will be Fields’ second year in Luke Getsy's offense, which should also help his development.

Bottom Line

D.J. Moore remains a very talented receiver who is used to bad quarterback play, and he faces less competition for targets than in Carolina.

  • This should lead to more targets and, ideally, improved production if Justin Fields plays better, potentially moving Moore closer to the top 10 fantasy wide receivers for the first time in his career.

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