DJ Moore

 On Friday, March 10, the Chicago Bears  agreed to send the number one overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a haul of draft picks and sixth-year wide receiver D.J. Moore. This move sets up the  Panthers to go after their franchise quarterback but the immediate fantasy impact comes from Moore going to Chicago for his age-25 season.

D.J. Moore’s Career

A first-round pick in the 2018 Draft by Carolina, D.J. Moore joined the Panthers at a tough time for a wide receiver. Cam Newton’s superpowers were waning and Moore’s new team was on the precipice of a quarterback transitional period that would ultimately prove to last the duration of Moore’s career in Carolina.

As a rookie, Moore hauled in 55 catches for 788 yards and two scores finishing as a fringe WR3 for fantasy purposes. For the next four seasons, Moore’s role as a target hog would only expand and lead to him finishing in the top 10 in target share over the last two seasons.
From an efficiency standpoint, Moore has been above average but not elite. While his best fantasy season was in 2019, arguably his most impressive campaign came in 2022, when he essentially matched Tyreek Hill in every efficiency metric.
Moore has shown that he can have spikes in efficiency but a lack of quarterback play has stymied his fantasy production, never finishing higher than WR16 in half-PPR leagues and scoring more than four touchdowns in a season just once. One attribute that might help him compile spike fantasy weeks is his newfound ability to go deep—he ranked top 10 in average target depth last year—something that his new team loves to do.

How D.J. Moore Fits into the Bears' Offense

Moore is going from one run-heavy offense to another—Carolina’s 51.5% passing rate in neutral game script was the fifth-lowest in the league last season while Chicago wasn’t far behind at 50.2%, the fourth-lowest rate. The Bears’ splits are obviously influenced by Justin Fields’ propensity to run—his 160 rushes ranked second among quarterbacks—but Fields struggled mightily as a passer last season. Chicago ranked near the bottom of the league in virtually every passing stat in 2022.

Fields’ mobility, however, sets up explosive plays when surrounded by the right weapons—when he does throw the ball, Fields wants to make plays downfield. By throwing deep (over 15 air yards) at the seventh-highest rate in the league last season, Fields tied for the fourth-highest average throw depth (9.0 yards) among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts.

Putting a bona fide number one alongside two other wide receivers who aren’t afraid to stretch the field—Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool both posted average target depths above 12 yards with the Bears last season—should maximize Fields’ passing potential. Along with tight end Cole Kmet, whose 20% target share led the team in 2022, Moore may not turn the Bears into one of the most pass-heavy teams in the league but their above-average pass-catching corps and willingness to take shots could help Fields increase his efficiency and maybe even his volume.

Projecting the Bears' Passing Attack in Fantasy Football

Alphas typically remain alphas, even with a team switch (see Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, and Stefon Diggs just to name a few recently.) While Moore may not approach a 30% target share as he did in the last two years, he should stay comfortably above 25% as the clear top receiver on this team. Assuming a baseline of 400 pass attempts—Chicago threw a painfully low 377 times in 2022—we should be able to pencil in Moore for about 100 targets with a ceiling in the 125–130 range.

Prior to the trade, Moore was projecting as 4for4’s WR24, exactly where he is currently being drafted in best ball leagues. Unfortunately for Moore, this passing game will have to take some huge leaps for him to be a comfortable WR2, let alone sniff WR1 territory.

After Kmet and Mooney, there isn’t obvious competition for targets so it’s likely they both stay in their 60-70 target window while ancillary pass-catchers fall by the wayside. Kmet will remain a fringe starter/streaming option while Mooney will be a spot start or bye-week fill-in, neither of whom you should go out of your way to reach for in fantasy drafts.

The big winner in this trade is Justin Fields. His rushing ability propelled him to a QB6 finish in 2022 and he is currently 4for4’s QB5, the fifth signal-caller coming off early best ball boards. The obvious comp to this situation is A.J. Brown to Philadelphia last year but the quarterback position is so strong that it’s unlikely that the overall QB1 is truly in Fields’ range of outcomes.

If things break right for Fields and the Bears, though, a top-three fantasy season is in Fields’ crosshairs and that could carry Moore to outperform his ADP, assuming it doesn’t move up in the coming weeks.

As the 39th overall pick in Underdog leagues, the cost to acquire Fields is already significant but in today’s best ball climate, it’s worth the investment.

The Bottom Line

D.J. Moore is a true number-one wide receiver that can handle a massive target share. He has flashed elite efficiency but has yet to have a quarterback that can carry him to a WR1 season.
Moore goes from one run-heavy offense to another but arrives in an offense that had one of the worst passing attacks in 2022.
Most elite receivers maintain elite target shares even after moving teams and Moore should follow suit and command a 25%+ target share in Chicago. Unfortunately, that may barely equate to 100 targets and he may struggle to be an every-week WR2 unless Fields makes huge strides as a passer.
4for4 currently ranks Moore as the WR24, exactly where he is being drafted in best ball leagues. Ideally, draft Moore when he slips past his ADP.
Cole Kmet and Darnell Mooney will likely maintain their role from 2022 while ancillary pass-catchers see diminished roles with Moore arriving in Chicago. Both Mooney (4for4 WR48) and Kmet (TE13) have rankings that match almost perfectly with their current ADP.
The big winner in this trade is Justin Fields. He is 4for4’s QB5 as well as the QB5 in current ADP but now has top-three upside and should be drafted as such.