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Fantasy Football: Start or Sit Donte Moncrief?

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All signs this offseason pointed to a breakout 2016 campaign for Donte Moncrief and those of you who snagged him as your third or fourth fantasy football WR will sleep Saturday night comfortably knowing that he will get his season off on the right foot. He should end the week as a top-twenty WR, more than justifying him starting those you drafted ahead of him.

Last year before Andrew Luck’s injuries derailed his season; Moncrief was on pace for 13 touchdowns and 850 yards on 77 receptions. A very good season by any measurement and if Moncrief had the opportunity to complete it, a season that would have vaulted him into top twenty WR territory. Instead, he sat just outside this (just inside the top thirty) waiting for his opportunity to show the world he is deserving of fantasy football WR2 status. Moncrief starts his 2016 campaign poised to make that leap.

While analysts and fantasy football enthusiasts know all about Moncrief’s 2016 potential breakout, the Lions are more worried about containing the superstar opposite him in T.Y. Hilton. Hilton is likely to get the bulk of Darius Slay’s attention, meaning that Nevin Lawson and Glover Quin will be left to do their best with Donte Moncrief.

With Coby Fleener leaving to New Orleans, it’s likely the Colts move to a three-WR set with burner Philip Dorsett, meaning that Quin will be worrying about Dorsett over the top instead of bracketing Moncrief. That will leave him one-on-one in an extremely beatable matchup.

The #2 matchup was one that started to falter down the stretch last season, with iffy #2 options garnering either 75 yards or a touchdown in three of the last four games down the stretch last year. There wasn’t much done to upgrade that corps.

The overall season numbers are a mess for trying to find value, but the Lions benefitted from playing a lot of teams with bad #2 wide receivers. If you strip out all the terrible #2s they played last year, the quality receivers will turn in an average of 9 fantasy points per game. While that 9 is not all that encouraging, it was low touchdown numbers that drove that down. The quality #2 receivers they faced averaged a 1000-yard pace. I’ll take those odds.

Moncrief was drafted as a potential breakout candidate, which is something that can make owners itchy to start him week one. Don’t give in to that doubting voice in the back of your head. Moncrief is a great talent who had the eye of his quarterback last season. He will feast thanks to Hilton absorbing the Lions’ top corner (a trend that will continue this season), and Dorsett will prevent them from cheating down on him. Moncrief will get plenty of opportunity to succeed against the Lions, a team that will need to treat him as the #2 wide receiver, and a team that had trouble defending against quality #2 WRs in 2015.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com