Darnell Mooney

Darnell Mooney: A Secret No More

Consistently staying one step ahead of your league is the most vital component to constructing a championship-caliber team in dynasty leagues. Finding a diamond in the rough or predicting a breakout before it happens are two beneficial ways to achieve this. The 173rd overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft (24th WR selected), Darnell Mooney, is a wide receiver who very few people are currently hyping up but has the potential to break out in 2021. 

Darnell Mooney: A Secret No More 

Mooney had a modest, yet productive, rookie season in 2020, totaling 61 receptions for 631 yards and 4 touchdowns. Mooney’s 61 receptions are tied with Tyreek Hill for 4th most all-time by a rookie not drafted in the first 4 rounds. Running a 4.38 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL Combine, Mooney possesses elite speed comparable to Hill as well. Per ESPN, 23% of balls thrown to Mooney were off target, ranking 14th most in the league last year. Incompetent quarterback play is the key reason why Mooney is being ignored by the fantasy community in comparison to his year-two peers. On the surface, very few are excited for his 2021 outlook because Andy Dalton has presumably been named the starter for the season. Due to this gloomy viewpoint, Darnell Mooney has become a terrific value in both redraft and dynasty leagues. 

It is imperative to attempt to trade for Mooney while Andy Dalton is still the starter for Chicago. The path to emerge as an elite wide receiver is evident once rookie phenom Justin Fields becomes the QB1. There were countless times last season where Mooney flashed his brilliant footwork and breakaway speed to separate from elite defenders, only to be thrown uncatchable balls from Mitch Trubisky or Nick Foles. Justin Fields on the other hand, finished 3rd in air yard completion percentage (71.2%) since the start of the 2019 NCAA season, per Pro Football Focus. This is a very high-ceiling comparison but the pairing of Justin Fields and Darnell Mooney could be comparable to that of Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill if they both completely maximize their potential.

Mooney is the clear cut “deep threat” in Chicago’s offense. He already garnered 23 deep targets last season, ranking 11th most in the NFL. He has additionally looked more polished and explosive throughout OTAs and June minicamp. These improvements help support an even better second season in the league. In Week 8 of the regular season, Mooney flashed more potential with 5 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. He additionally displayed his versatility in not being touchdown dependent in Week 17 against the Packers, pulling in 11 catches for 93 yards. 

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The Moon Man is currently an absolute steal in redraft leagues with an 11th round ADP. His lone competition for targets in the offense is standout wide receiver, Allen Robinson. Besides benefiting from the amount of defensive attention Robinson draws on a weekly basis, Mooney will also be able to absorb as much knowledge as possible from him. This season, Robinson will play under the franchise tag. Even if the Bears are able to eventually reach a long-term agreement with him, he is 28 years old and falling out of his prime. Robinson has received at least 150 targets in back-to-back seasons with the Bears, so that would be quite a few vacant targets available for the taking should Robinson be allowed to leave after the 2021 season. 

The time is now to trade for Darnell Mooney in dynasty while his value is still relatively low. I would attempt to trade an early-second round pick for Mooney and expect him to outproduce that cost. This is an acquisition that might not pay off the first year but can be extremely lucrative long-term. You could be acquiring the beneficiary of several bomb-touchdowns from Justin Fields for years to come.