Denarius Moore entered the NFL in 2011, absent of any significant hype. The Raiders selected him with the 148th overall pick, in the fifth round of the draft. But he even though he entered his initial training camp amid sizable competition from a cluster of talented yet youthful WRs, he made a rapid and distinctly positive impression. Most observers believed that he was the most impressive WR at camp, and his effectiveness continued in the preseason. That carried on to the regular season, when he collected a 26-yard pass on his first play from scrimmage. By week two, he had ascended into a starting role.
The lightning fast Moore ultimately started 10 games, in part because he was sidelined for three contests due to a foot injury. But his obvious big play ability led to an instant connection with Carson Palmer, as Moore amassed nine catches for 184 yards in his first two full games with Palmer under center. He also closed out the year by producing 195 yards in Oakland’s final two contests, which included a 61-yard TD reception. Of course, both Moore and Palmer want to continue precisely where they left off as the 2011 season concluded. Which is partially why they have expressed their mutual concern about Moore’s temporary absence, due to a hamstring pull that occurred in mid-June. This could initially result in timing issues, plus both players must reach a comfort level with the new West Coast Offense that OC Greg Knapp has installed. And Moore will be dependent upon Palmer to become more mobile, while simultaneously executing his throws on timing routes. All with the same ease that he has performed as a downfield pocket passer in the past.
Still, there are ample reasons to believe that Denarius Moore will overcome any disadvantages from missing the preseason, and produce sufficiently in the new offense. He possesses an impressive combination of skills that enabled him to generate big plays last year, including several catches that can legitimately be classified as spectacular. Despite his shortened season, he still managed to snare 33 receptions for 618 yards and five TDs. He also accumulated 12 passes of 20+ yards during the course of the year, and 5 of 40+. His TD total led the Raiders, even though he was forced from the lineup for part of the year. He also paced the Silver & Black in YPC (18.7), was targeted 76 times, and certainly would have approached a 800-yard season (or better) had he been available for all 16 contests.
That in turn made it reasonable to project Moore as a 1,000+ yard receiver this season, who could approach (or even reach) double digit TDs. All providing that he could remain injury free for 16 games. But his ability to accomplish that has since come into question, because of the hamstring issue. The Raider organization has been extremely cautious during his recovery, to ensure that he will be available for the team's regular season opener against San Diego.
However, fantasy owners appear to have overacted to his role as a bystander during the preseason. His current ADP of 98 places him in the eighth round of 12 team drafts. That is tremendous value for such a dynamic player, if you can actually secure him that far into your drafts. But Moore should be departing the draft boards somewhat earlier. He is the most talented Raider WR overall, has already attained Palmer’s unchallenged trust, is a reliable route runner, and doesn't make drops (only two as a rookie). He is simply being undervalued because of the hamstring issue, while his capacity to generate fantasy points for owners is being underestimated.
Teammate Darrius Heyward-Bey’s ADP is a similar 111. He has improved dramatically during his three year career, and is also capable of helping your roster as a WR3 in certain matchups. However, Denarius Moore became Oakland’s most dangerous WR upon his arrival, and that remains unchanged. When comparing the two starting wideouts, Moore has greater potential to generate high quality numbers for fantasy owners based upon his attributes that were listed previously. He simply needs to maintain his health, and his accessibility to Palmer, who will make it a priority to locate him on the field. However, fantasy owners should exercise some patience by allowing Moore a game or two to learn the new offense, and recapture his timing with Palmer. That tolerance will pay dividends as the year progresses.
If Moore stays in the lineup for 15-16 games this season, then those 1,000+ yards and 9-10 TDs are still very attainable. And even if maladies limit him to around 13 games once again, he should still generate 850-900 yards and 8 TDs. Draft him in round 7, and he will soon reward you as a high end WR3, who will provide you with multiple big plays during the season.