Week one is now in the books. Whether you won or lost your matchup. It’s time to put it behind you and look to the future. And this week I’ll be looking at someone who projects for a big future. Tied to an elite QB, in a system that loves to throw the ball a ton. This week’s Tomorrow’s Star Today is Arizona Cardinals offensive weapon, Rondale Moore.
Who is he
Rondale was drafted by the Cardinals at pick 49 in round 2 of the 2021 NFL draft. He played three years at Purdue, although injury stifled the last two years in college. However, Moore broke out in his first game in college. His first game saw him putting together 313 all-purpose yards. This was combined of 109 receiving yards, 76 rushing yards, and 125 yards as a kickoff returner. He also added a receiving touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Moore is a young rookie, having just turned 21 in July.
Rondale is undersized, coming in at 5’7 and 181lbs. This would be more worrying if Moore wasn’t off the charts in his athletic testing. His 4.37 40 times checks in as 96th percentile, with PlayerProfiler, also giving him a 96th percentile burst score and a 94th percentile agility score. It’s worth also noting the video that went around on Twitter of Moore squatting 600lbs. You can see from the way he deals with press. Moore is much stronger than his size would belie. He might struggle against a bigger cornerback, but he’s agile and bursty off the line. Moore was a threat in college whenever he touched the ball, leading to All American honours in college.
How will he be used?
You’ll notice that above, I’ve called Rondale an offensive weapon instead of a wide receiver. That’s because that’s what he projects to be in the NFL. Moore is a shifty player with elite speed and a YAC threat. At the end of the 2018 season, Moore won the Paul Hornung Award. This award is given to the most versatile player in all of college football.
We can see evidence of this from his NFL debut. In week one against the Titans, Moore caught four passes for 68 yards. 64 of those yards coming after the catch. Moore averaged 16 YAC per reception in week one – the highest in the NFL. His size would mean that Moore would normally project as a slot receiver. However, I think the Cardinals will go out of their way to manufacture touches for Rondale. Similar to how the 49ers use Deebo Samuel. I think we’ll see a lot of backfield touches and screens for a player who already projects to be one of the deadliest in the NFL with the ball in his hands.
What’s his outlook for this season
Rondale started the season off quite nicely, with 4 catches of 4 targets for 68 yards. This wasn’t as flashy as perhaps Devonta Smith or Ja’Marr Chase on their debuts. But then Rondale Moore wasn’t drafted as high as those two, therefore isn’t expected to have the same immediate impact. However, it’s clear immediately that Rondale already has his role within this offense. He looked flashy taking a screen for 26 yards in week one and also found himself open for a fantastic scramble play by Kyler Murray.
Rondale is unlikely to provide huge value in redraft in the first few weeks of the season, as he’s buried on the depth chart behind AJ Green and Christian Kirk. However, it’s easy to see a path to relevancy for Moore, especially if he continues as he’s started in week one.
Moore’s speed and elusiveness give him home run potential any time he has the ball in his hands. If you find yourself down in your matchup, needing a lot of points to win your week, Moore could find himself as an option. I don’t think he’ll be a reliable weekly starter in redraft for 2021, but Moore could easily win you a week if he takes a screen for 50 yards. And as we’ve already seen in week one, that’s well within his range of outcomes.
Why is he tomorrow’s star today
Dynasty managers clearly see the potential in Moore, although he goes behind other prospects who project more towards being an alpha in the NFL. In PPR formats, Moore is unlikely to be a weekly WR1 any time soon. But if you’re buying Moore, you’re aware of this. Moore is a threat to take the ball to the house any time it’s in his hands. He might be undersized, but the kid is strong as hell, and incredibly hard to stop once the ball is in his hands.
I’m hesitant to make the connection, but watching him take a screen through traffic for 26 yards reminded me of a certain Chiefs receiver. Any small but fast receiver will always get the Tyreek comparison, but the eye test shows why it’s been made between these players.
The other crucial thing to consider with Rondale Moore is his situation where he was drafted. As above, Rondale is currently positioned as the WR4 on the Cardinals. DeAndre Hopkins isn’t going anywhere, but the players ahead of him are AJ Green and Christian Kirk.
Although Green has enough in the tank to offer a complimentary piece this year, his contract is only for one year. I would be surprised to see that be extended as Green will be 34 going into next season. Kirk will be hitting free agency at the end of the season too. He’s a nice piece in the Cardinals offense but hasn’t shown enough in his four years to justify a big contract at the end of the year. Kirk’s season-high yardage total came in 2018 with 709 yards. He’s a good player, but it would seem natural for the Cardinals to move on and perhaps draft a replacement.
This would leave Rondale with a huge opportunity on the Cardinals’ depth chart. Hopkins will be the number one on the team so long as he’s in Arizona, but there’s a lot of targets to go around in Glendale. Kyler Murray was 8th in the NFL last year in pass attempts, even more, impressive when he missed time with a shoulder injury, then wasn’t at 100% when he returned.
Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense (modified for the NFL at least) emphasises putting four wide receivers on the field. Regardless of who is in town, Rondale is guaranteed to get his share of a lot of targets. However, if he’s the WR2 in 2022, this could see him in the conversation for around 100 targets. For a player that’s lethal after the catch, with guaranteed YAC every time he touches the ball, 100 targets for Rondale could lead to solid fantasy production.
In rookie drafts this offseason, Moore could be seen around the end of the first round, perhaps slipping into the beginning of the second. His ADP in startups is around round 7, going currently off the board as WR40. It seems clear that Rondale’s cost will go up in the weeks to come, especially if he perhaps overtakes Kirk or Green on the depth chart. Currently, I think Moore could be had for around a late 1st, or perhaps for a veteran player. These articles always suit a rebuilding team more than a contending one, but Moore would be a great piece to look to contend in the 2022 season.
If you missed Lewis’ first Tomorrow’s star today article on Elijah Moore you can check it out here.