Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore is yet to appear in a single game this season due to a lingering hamstring injury. Moore logged two practices this week and says he is “good, [and] solid” heading into Week 4’s matchup against the Panthers. While this is certainly good news for fantasy managers who roster the second-year wideout from Purdue, Moore’s return may just strike midnight on the proverbial Cinderalla story of teammate Greg Dortch.
The wily slot receiver enters Week 4 as one of 2022’s early feel-good fantasy stories. Dortch currently sits as WR21 overall in point-per-reception (PPR) scoring per FantasyData, with an average of 15.3 points per game. Perhaps more impressively than anything, Dortch is keeping pace with tight end Zach Ertz in overall target share in the Arizona passing attack (16.3% and 18.4% respectively), meaning Kyler Murray is targeting Dortch almost as much as the star tight end.
The first takeaway here is that whoever the slot receiver is in Arizona is a must-roster fantasy asset. even a third-year undrafted free agent like Dortch. Dortch’s production tracks with information we know from last year, a season in which Christian Kirk (the primary slot receiver) saw a 14.4% target share to Ertz’s 16.2% per 4for4, which Kirk rode to an eventual WR26 overall finish in 2021.
That established, for a player on his fifth team since entering the league as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets in 2019, we shouldn’t invalidate Dortch’s performance because the statistical evidence shows us that his role in the offense is a focal point for the Cardinals. After all, a player with an opportunity still needs to seize it to maintain fantasy relevance. As such, kudos to the young man. However, there’s a reason I used a fairytale metaphor in the introduction.
The Rondale Moore I mentioned earlier? The one returning from an injury? He’s also a slot receiver. In his rookie year, 76.1% of his routes came from the slot per Pro Football Focus (PFF); moreover, Moore also ran from the slot 82.8% of the time in his college career. Assuming Moore returns to gridiron play in Week 4, he will likely overtake a healthy portion of Dortch’s 88.8% slot participation. If that is the case, our takeaway outlined earlier about the fantasy viability of the Cardinals’ slot receiver is vitally important to consider.
As of this writing, Rondale Moore is rostered in 21.7% of ESPN fantasy leagues and 17% of Yahoo! leagues. It would be wise to pick up Moore off your waiver wire ASAP, but don’t be so quick to dismiss Dortch as an option!
While no medical expertise fills my brain, Dr. Edwin Porras of Fantasy Points does know a thing or two about the risky nature of hamstring injuries and the potential for re-injury, information readers can find here. One item Porras notes in this writing is that a player’s first week returning from these injuries is “the riskiest time” to put them in your lineup(s). With that in mind, Dortch is currently rostered in only 18.3% of ESPN leagues and 29% of Yahoo fantasy leagues. It is not wholly inconceivable that he will return fantasy value at some point in the future this year (even as early as this coming Sunday) should Moore succumb to a reaggravation of his hamstring woes.
As bizarre as this sounds, it may behoove savvy fantasy managers with the requisite number of bench spots to roster both Dortch and Moore. The practice of “handcuffing” running backs is not uncommon, and it stands to reason in this instance that there is a wide receiver “handcuff” opportunity with proven viability and potential. If the idea of “handcuffing” receivers isn’t your thing, there’s still something to be learned here. While the Dortch may be scorched when Rondale becomes fully healthy, it is Moore or less a simple passing of the torch. Both players are largely available and need to be on your fantasy roster(s).