How Does the Trade to Cleveland Impact Elijah Moore’s Fantasy Value in 2023?
On March 22, the New York Jets traded Elijah Moore and a third-round pick (No. 74) to the Cleveland Browns for a second-rounder (No. 42). And while there’s been plenty of discussion on how the deal will affect the Jets this season, what about the impact in Cleveland?
So what does Elijah Moore bring to the Browns?
Training camp will paint a more accurate picture. But right now, we can safely pencil Moore in behind Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones as Cleveland’s WR3.
Moore was solid in his rookie season before getting hurt in Week 12. Moore had 43 catches for 538 yards and five touchdowns in 11 starts for the Jets in 2021. He was averaging 12.5 yards per reception and just shy of 50 receiving yards per game.
In 2022, Moore was the second most targeted Jets receiver behind Rookie of the Year candidate Garrett Wilson. Moore had 65 targets in nine starts. He hauled in 37 of those passes for 446 yards and one touchdown.
So, not great. But we must remember that the Jets’ offense was a dumpster fire for much of the season. Zach Wilson is a bust (for now), and Mike White is gone. After the season, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur — with whom Moore didn’t see eye-to-eye — was fired.
Moore gives Deshaun Watson and the Browns another talented — albeit underachieving — pass catcher behind Cooper and Peoples-Jones, allowing Cleveland to do more in the passing game.
What type of impact does the Elijah Moore trade have on the fantasy football landscape?
What does this all mean for fantasy football owners? Well, there’s been talk about the Browns getting more vertical in 2023. SI’s Albert Breer opined that the “Gary Kubiak-styled attack wasn’t a perfect fit for the quarterback last year. So I’d expect we’ll see Cleveland retrofitting it to Watson’s strengths more aggressively than last year, with more shotgun and spread concepts to get Watson playing fast and back in his comfort zone.”
The Browns hired Bill Musgrave as a senior offensive assistant. Musgrave used significantly more shotguns than the Browns did last season. That will benefit Moore and the Browns’ receivers. It will also help running back Nick Chubb. Chubb posted a +6.31 EPA and 6.0 YPA in runs from the shotgun (92 attempts) and -3.84 EPA and 4.7 YPA on runs from under center (210 attempts), per Cody Suek.
More success for Chubb means more open shots for receivers downfield.
Moore is entering his third season, which could be good for him. As Pranav Rajaram highlighted at 4for4, there’s always a third-year breakout receiver in the NFL.
Brandon Aiyuk caught 78 passes for 1,015 yards last season. Pittsburgh’s Diontae Johnson caught 107 passes for 1,161 yards in 2021. In 2020 Calvin Ridley caught 90 passes for 1,374 yards. Chris Godwin caught 86 passes for 1,333 yards in 2019. All those receivers were third-year and were the presumed No. 2 option in an offense.
Then there’s this nugget mined by 4for4’s Rajaram: Moore was significantly better when a quarterback not named Zach Wilson was under center in New York. In 12 games without Wilson, Moore’s per-game targets (6.1), receptions (4.1), and receiving yards (52.9) were much better.
The targets were up 1.5, receptions were up 2.0, and receiving yards were up 29.6. If those numbers hold, having Deshaun Watson throwing him the ball could make him a candidate to be this year’s breakout third-year receiver.
So, Moore could be a high-value breakout WR2/WR3 for fantasy owners this season.
You can read more on Moore’s outlook and the fantasy impact on the Browns and Jets by Pranav Rajaram over at 4for4.