We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2021 season. Click here to read the series of questions answered so far.
The idea of an NFL team only needing one high-end wide receiver in its starting offense has started to erode in recent years. PFF’s Eric Eager dove into this phenomenon last February and concluded the following:
“It appears that the strength of first receivers is less important in the playoffs than it is in the regular season — a phenomenon we’ve seen very explicitly this year. Third receivers are at least as important as second ones (when allowing for tight ends), which goes to explain why the Chiefs had little in the way of answers against the Bucs, getting almost nothing out of Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and company in the Super Bowl.
What does this mean? Well, it appears that, more than ever, the game of football at the NFL level is about depth at every position but quarterback. The notion that one player, even at a position as important as wide receiver, can get a team “over the top” is a faulty one once a team is competing at the highest levels.
Thus, when thinking about free agency and the draft over the next few months, appreciate the impact of players like Justin Jefferson and Stefon Diggs on their new teams, but also notice that many of the great offenses in the NFL have acquired a Cole Beasley or Antonio Brown, too. And know that the job isn’t done when a team finds one or two great players to throw the ball to.”
Basically, the presence of one single monster on the outside isn’t enough to ensure consistent domination through the air in today’s NFL. Offenses need more than one viable high-end receiver to counteract defenses that seem to be getting bigger, faster, stronger and smarter by the year.
Luckily for the Carolina Panthers: They already have (at least) two bonafide studs inside of their wide receiver room. What follows is a breakdown on what both D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson bring to the table as well as what we should make of their fantasy football stock ahead of 2021.
*Both* Anderson and Moore were pretty great in 2020
The Panthers weren’t a good offense last season, finishing 24th in points per game and failing to surpass 31 points in a single contest. And yet, each of Moore, Anderson, Mike Davis and Curtis Samuel managed to rack up at least 1,000 total yards.
It was hard not to be impressed by the former two talents throughout 2020. Overall, both Moore (66 receptions-1,193 yards-4 TD) and Anderson (99-1,114-3) largely had their way with secondaries of all shapes and sizes throughout the season. The reigning PPR WR25 and WR20, Moore and Anderson proved capable time and time again of accomplishing just about anything you’d want a No. 1 wide receiver to do.
Moore managed to pick up the bulk of his yards in particularly impressive fashion. Coming out of Maryland, Moore was at first thought of as more of a YAC specialist than well-rounded receiver; we saw him excel in all facets of the game last season.
Go DJ. That's my DJpic.twitter.com/kgaq2by0w4
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) April 25, 2021
Meanwhile, Anderson largely reinvented himself as someone capable of operating all over the field. Pigeonholed as a field-stretching specialist with the Jets, Anderson set career-best marks with the Panthers in PFF receiving grade (76.0), receptions (99), yards (1,114), first downs (49), yards after the catch per reception (5.1) and percentage of catchable passes that were caught (93.4%). We’ve always known Anderson is a downfield threat: Only Tyreek Hill has more touchdowns on passes thrown 20-plus yards since 2017. The difference last season was that Anderson showed us he’s capable of making the most out of just about any situation he’s placed into.
All in all, Moore and Anderson joined Travis Kelce and Hill as well as D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as the only duos with 1,000 receiving yards each last season. Credit to Anderson for thriving in the same offense, but Moore’s campaign could’ve been even bigger if not for his status as one of the league’s top two most unlucky wide receivers from 2020. One of six wide receivers with at least 20 targets that PFF deemed uncatchable, Moore needs more (sorry) from the Panthers’ revolving door under center in order to meet his limitless potential.