I am a talent snob. I have a reputation for over-valuing big, fast players who win the NFL Scouting Combine. I draft Stephen Hill every year. One day, my tombstone will read: "Give me athleticism, and the targets will come."
And I loved this rookie wide receiver class, but even I didn't come close to properly evaluating their fantasy value in redraft leagues. From Sammy Watkins to Kelvin Benjamin to Brandin Cooks to Allen Robinson to Davante Adams, a new rookie wide receiver exceeds my expectations every week.
In Week 8, eight rookie wide receivers led their respective teams in targets. In Week 8, nine rookie receivers had ten or more PPR fantasy points. In Week 8, as a group, rookie wide receivers approached 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns. I simply didn't see this coming...
Except one: Donte Moncrief.
While the receivers mentioned above were highly regarded draft prospects selected in the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft, Donte Moncrief and Martavis Bryant were less heralded, yet even more athletically gifted than players drafted rounds earlier. These two freak athletes are now dominating fantasy waiver wire conversations, and it is glorious.
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Moncrief checks all of the uber-prospect boxes on PlayerProfiler.com.
40-time: 4.40 (90th percentile)
Burst Score: 133.2 (93rd percentile)
Agility Score: 11.32 (33rd percentile)
While Donte Moncrief's Agility Score indicates that he is no Wes Welker in tight spaces, at 6-foot-2, 220-pounds, Moncrief's athletic profile is greater than the sum of its parts. His PlayerProfiler Athleticism Score is 109.5 (97th percentile), because the site weights wide receiver athleticism based on overall stature -- the bigger and taller and stronger, the better.
Two additional prospect-related metrics indicate that Moncrief is both a freak athlete in the gym and a productive player on the field:
College Dominator Rating: 32.1% (51st percentile)
Breakout Age: 18.1 (100th percentile)
Donte Moncrief was thrust into a starting role as a true freshman at the University of Mississippi. That year, he accounted for over 20 percent of the team's receiving yards and touchdowns. In 2013, he accounted for 30-plus percent of the Rebels' receiving yards and touchdowns, which inspired the YouTube hit, Feed Moncrief (100,000-plus views). Indeed, Moncrief's young ascension and above-average Dominator Rating while matched up primarily against SEC defensive backs pointed to an innate ability to win on the football field by creating separation and converting contested catches -- efficiency attributes that athleticism metrics alone cannot measure.
Few rookie receivers can match Donte Moncrief's prospect profile (see also Jeff Janis). How he fell to the Indianapolis Colts at the end of the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft remains one of the great mysteries of the universe. In fact, this topic was discussed at-length on today's RotoUnderworld podcast (also available on iTunes).
Martavis Bryant is one of those few speed-size freaks who match Donte Moncrief's raw athleticism. At 6-foot-4, 211-pounts, Bryant's 10.27 Catch Radius on PlayerProfiler points to a rare physical tool set. However, his Dominator Rating and Breakout Age hovered below the 20th percentile at Clemson University. By comparison, Bryant's collegiate resume paints the picture of an unrefined talent lacking Moncrief's on-field efficiency and robust route tree. Even with Markus Wheaton struggling, Bryant has yet to seize an every-down role and will likely be a situational deep threat and red zone specialist for the Steelers in 2014. He is a better dynasty asset than a redraft add, despite last Sunday's serendipitous fantasy outburst.
On the other hand, going all the way back to the preseason, Donte Moncrief's redraft arrow was pointing up. Moncrief quickly passed a fellow freak athlete in Da'Rick Rogers and was active on game days early in the season, which indicated that he was a ready-to-be-deployed weapon, not a raw athletic project. Then, in week 7, he surprisingly out-snapped Hakeem Nicks 23 to 19. With Reggie Wayne out for Week 8 with an injured arm, based on Moncrief's profile, a breakout party was imminent.
Yet, Donte Moncrief was not a hot waiver wire add last week. He barely cracked the top-60 wide receivers on most fantasy wide receiver rankings, because in fairness, few receivers post 100-plus yards and a touchdown in their first game with an expanded role. However, Moncrief is not similar to most NFL receivers. His profile screamed fantasy stud. Put him on the field with Andrew Luck, who leads the NFL in pass attempts per game, and Donte Moncrief must be your waiver wire pick-up du jour heading into Week 9.