Since his sophomore season, Donte Moncrief’s fantasy football stock has fallen on hard times. He has missed 11 games and found himself leaving the Indianapolis Colts for the Jacksonville Jaguars — translation: going from Andrew Luck to Blake Bortles.
Moncrief has missed games or practice time with a wide array of injuries, including turf toe, a broken shoulder blade, an unrelated shoulder strain, a sprained ankle, and separate hamstring strains. One doesn’t need to be a doctor to get the overall picture here.
In Indy, Moncrief had a defined role as a the sidekick to T.Y. Hilton. His job description in Jacksonville isn’t so clear. The Jags boast a run-first system with a hodgepodge of mouths to feed at receiver and a tight end on the rise. Moncrief will need to establish himself among promising targets in rookie D.J. Chark, Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Given the modest splash he made in free agency with a one-year, $9.6 million “prove-it” contract, Moncrief should be afforded every opportunity to assume one of the starting roles. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, with four years of experience entering his age-25 season, the Mississippi product is getting no love in fantasy circles.
Jacksonville, while run-oriented, boasts a powerhouse offensive line and a quarterback whose needle points north. When he isn’t asked to do it all by himself, Bortles isn’t as terrible as his reputation suggests — a ringing endorsement, huh? In the past three seasons, only a trio of Moncrief’s 15 scores have not come in the red zone. He should find the football coming his way fairly often when Jacksonville is in prime scoring position. Just how frequently is the real question, and it will mostly depend on game flow. Seferian-Jenkins is built for living in the end zone, and standout running back Leonard Fournette is a touchdown machine.
Fantasy football takeaway
As we witnessed in his time with the Colts, Moncrief is mostly dependent on scoring touchdowns to keep his fantasy worth afloat. From 2015-16, he scored a touchdown every 7.2 receptions, only slightly better than his career average of once per 8.4, which includes last year’s effort of once every 13 grabs. Using 2017’s top 50 fantasy points producers at his position, the average was a touchdown every 11 receptions.
Going a step further: If we remove the players with fewer than 50 receptions, Moncrief would have been No. 10 in terms of scoring efficiency using his career mark. Since he has broken the 50-reception barrier once in four years, perhaps we should set the bar lower, but it certainly doesn’t feel like an unattainable benchmark for him in 2018.
In fantasy, receivers who present low-volume, high-scoring profiles tend to be difficult to deploy with any reliability. Gamers in PPR leagues surely can push Moncrief down the list of potential late-round fliers. Neither he nor the offensive system have shown the ability to make Moncrief more than a gamble at this point. His average draft placement is outside of the scope of a 12-team, 16-player roster in either scoring format, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com. Using the more comprehensive listing at MyFantasyLeague.com, he checks in as a late 18th-rounder in PPR and an early 17th-rounder in standard.
Assuming Chark, a rookie, is not an immediate contributor, and recognizing Lee tends to get hurt, Moncrief has a shot at being a de factor WR1 for the Jags. Unfortunately, this still makes him no better than WR3/flex in fantasy. Nevertheless, gamers should be more interested in him as a roster-filling option.