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Donte Moncrief (WR, PIT) - 2019 Fantasy Football Sleeper


Donte Moncrief signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason and immediately jumped onto the fantasy football radar. He spent the 2018 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars after spending the first four years of his career as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, the team who drafted him.

Wide receiver is easily the deepest position in fantasy football, but situations like Moncrief's don't come around often. Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell are gone, and chemistry seems to be strong in Steelers training camp. The Steelers need a WR2 behind JuJu Smith-Schuster and the only receiver with more experience than Moncrief is Darrius Heyward-Bey, who is a special teams captain and hasn't scored a receiving touchdown since 2016.

There's a lot of different ways you can go in the back-end of your draft but stocking up on high-upside receivers is never a bad option. Moncrief has the chance to provide incredible value, compared to those around him, especially when you see Golden Tate, Anthony Miller, and Tyrell Williams on the big board at the same time. Considering Moncrief's upside in a great offense, it should be an easy draft-day decision.

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A Steal in the Steel City

It’s rare that a 27-year-old receiver finds himself on his third team in three years but also in the best scenario of his career. After spending the first four years of his career in Indianapolis, Moncrief spent 2018 with the Jaguars. Only once in these five years did he eclipse 100 targets, and he has just one season with more than 50 receptions. However, few have questioned Moncrief's talent but instead whether he can stay healthy. 

Now, he’s a part of the Steelers receiving corps sans Antonio Brown. Last year with the Jags, Moncrief finished second on the team in targets (89), receiving yards (668). He hauled in 48 balls with just three resulting in a touchdown. That was with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler throwing to him. In 2019, he gets Ben Roethlisberger as his quarterback, who is fresh off a season of earning career bests in attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns.

Moncrief’s aDoT (Average Depth of Target) of 12.8 yards was higher than any Steeler last season, and his 13.9 yards per reception placed him inside the Top 32 in the NFL in both categories. This is huge, considering that Roethlisberger loves having a deep threat to force the ball to; his average Intended Air Yards over the last three seasons is 8.8 yards. Add in that the Steelers prefer using Smith-Schuster in the slot, he will likely draw a shadow of opposing defenses best cornerback. Moncrief has the ability to beat defenses over the top, and Pittsburgh is need of a receiver to do just that.

Even better news is that Big Ben and Moncrief have developed a strong connection early in camp. “It’s crazy how fast he connected with me, how fast he learned the way I ran my routes and the spots I would be in,” Moncrief said of the Steelers signal caller. Before the whole debacle with Antonio Brown, the general consensus in town was that Big Ben and Brown had a great relationship and it showed in their numbers. That would prove to be an enormous benefit to the offense if they can continue to feed off of each other.

Fighting with Moncrief is second-year pass-catcher James Washington. In their preseason battle, the former seems to have the edge as he did not play in the team’s first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Washington did see the field, he put up great numbers, catching four passes for 84 yards and a score. Expect Moncrief to suit up in the team’s remaining preseason games, where we can get a better feel for his comfortability in the offense.

Even in an entirely new environment, the chips are falling into the right place for Moncrief. Granted he can stay healthy for a second consecutive season, Moncrief’s experience in the league and connection with his new quarterback give him the edge over Washington. Understandably so, he’s not getting the love in fantasy mock drafts, but in an offense like the Steelers possess, Moncrief is in a position to outperform his 134 ADP. Don’t question grabbing him in the 10th round of your draft.

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