Darnell Mooney's Fantasy Football Floor Is Safe, But How High Is the Ceiling?

Not every wide receiver has the upside to be the overall WR1 in fantasy football formats. It's just the truth.

Some won't see enough volume. Some aren't ever going to be efficient enough. It's just the way that it is.

But just because someone may not be able to put up league-leading fantasy point totals doesn't mean they're irrelevant in fantasy football or have "no ceiling."

That said, we always would love to have some tangible upside from our draft picks.

Especially when that pick is going inside the top 30 at his position, as Chicago Bears receiver Darnell Mooney is (he's the WR29 in FanDuel's best-ball formats).

The Bears are a run-heavy team; they ranked 28th in pass rate over expectation in games started by quarterback Justin Fields in 2021. How does that impact Mooney's path to upside?

Chicago Bears Offensive Outlook in 2022

I've been on a bit of an efficiency kick this offseason because, while we can complicate or overlook whatever we want, the reality is that there are some pretty clear trends that matter for fantasy performance.

If we're hoping that Mooney can overperform his draft position, then we're hoping for top-24 results within the position, basically. A WR20 season is a win at an ADP of WR29 -- even if there's really no way Mooney is going to pace the league in receiving stats in 2022.

Historically, a top-24 (or WR2) season has meant playing on a top-half adjusted offense (by numberFire's metrics). More than three-fourths of top-12 receiver seasons came from teams that were in the top half of adjusted offensive efficiency, yet that number dips to 52.1% for WR2 seasons.

It's not as vital for the second tier of receivers to play on a plus offense.

That's good news for Mooney because Fields posted a -0.14 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back mark in 2021. That was a full 0.24 points per drop back worse than the NFL average.

Further, just 41.5% of his drop backs led to an increase in expected scoring for the Bears' offense. That was 5.6 percentage points worse than the NFL average.

But even if Fields struggles again, we have seen 19.3% of WR2 seasons tied to bottom-eight passing offenses since 2012 -- but 31.1% coming from teams ranked 17th to 24th. An uptick from Fields will go a long way for Mooney's potential.

Once more, we see enough reason to like Mooney as a WR2 option in spite of the Bears' run-heavy nature.

We still see 50.4% of WR2s play on teams that ranked in the top half of the NFL in rushing plays. It's, again, the true WR1s who are unlikely to play on super run-heavy teams (just 17.5% played on top-eight rushing teams by play volume).

If we're hoping for WR13 to WR24 numbers from Mooney, we probably don't need to be too concerned because...

Darnell Mooney 2022 Fantasy Football Projection

...Mooney should see as much volume as he can handle -- realistically.

While Mooney is just our WR30 in half-PPR fantasy football projections, he's slated to see 128 targets for 961 yards and 4.7 touchdowns. Though that's not going to feel like a great overall line, the volume should go a long way.

He's projected for a 24.9% target share within this offense, ranking 13th among all receivers.

Heavy volume within an offense can help to overcome a lot of blemishes (e.g. a run-heavy offense or an inefficient quarterback).

With Mooney, we seem destined to experience a high-floor play given the expected volume with enough room for upside -- if we're realistic about what a home-run season looks like for someone playing in a subpar fantasy football situation.