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Donte Moncrief: Fantasy Football Projection for 2017

Donte Moncrief

Donte Moncrief

Donte Moncrief has caused many fantasy owners much grief in his short career. Thought to be a breakout candidate each of the last two seasons, injuries to himself and Andrew Luck ruined those hopes.

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2016 Season Recap

When looking at Moncrief, while his overall statistics won’t jump off of the page, there is one thing that stands out: his touchdown numbers. Over his last two seasons, he's caught 13 touchdowns in 22 games in which he's seen at least three targets. Those touchdowns are responsible for Moncrief producing more fantasy points per target than teammate T.Y. Hilton over the same span. Of course, Hilton put up big numbers last season while Moncrief did not, but it does show a glimpse of Moncrief’s potential, if he can stay healthy.

Moncrief never topped 64 yards in 2016 despite scoring in each of the seven full games he played. One of the reasons for the low yardage (307 on 30 receptions) was that 10 of his 56 targets came in the red zone. He ended up catching eight of those for six touchdowns, while Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle combined for 27 targets in the red zone and the same number of touchdowns. There is no doubt that Moncrief has established himself as a legitimate red zone threat.

2017 Expectations

You shouldn’t value touchdowns more than other stats because they can fluctuate dramatically from year to year, but you also can’t ignore scoring potential. For Moncrief, it does seem that his touchdown numbers aren't fluky. Even in his rookie season in 2014, he had just eight games with three or more targets and still found the end zone three times. That's not a huge number, but it is pretty good for a player that was so far down the totem pole at the time.

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In 2015, he started out with a touchdown in each of the first three games and five over the first six, but wasn’t as productive once Luck went down with an injury that caused him to miss nine games. Last season, Moncrief caught a TD pass in every game he played fully, but a litany of injuries (fractured scapula, hamstring, shoulder injuries) caused him to miss seven games and parts of two others.

Hilton remains Indianapolis’ No. 1 receiver, but that’s not the case once the Colts get into the red zone. In 32 games over the last two seasons, Hilton has seen 30 red-zone targets, which have produced five touchdown catches. In 25 games (with a few shortened by injury), Moncrief has seen 22 targets in the red zone and he’s turned those into 11 scores.

Where to Draft

Moncrief's metrics are all stellar, he has appealing size (6-2), and speed (4.4 40), and he’ll turn 24 in August as he enters his fourth season in the league. It looks like the Colts will be a pass-heavy offense again this year and if Moncrief (and Luck) can stay healthy, he will see more targets. That coupled with this touchdown potential could push him into the back end of WR2 territory, and should make him no worse than a solid WR3.

— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.

And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Athlon Sports’ 2017 Fantasy Football magazine, available for purchase online and at newsstands everywhere.

Athlon Sports 2017 Fantasy Football Preview