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Another year, another offseason of Chris Moore hype. Is this finally the year?

2019 is only in its third month, and the Ravens already reached the precipice of an annual tradition. That’s right, it’s time to hype up Chris Moore again!

Since he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Ravens fans have been speculating that Chris Moore could become Baltimore’s second successful homegrown wide receiver. (See Torrey Smith for the first.) The former Cincinnati Bearcat, Moore stands at 6 foot 1 inch and weighs roughly 200 pounds. He has the right combination of size, speed, and hands to evolve into a good wide receiver. Moore often draws praise from his teammates and media members. Just last week, John Brown called Moore the best wide receiver on the team. Even I got on the Chris Moore bandwagon. Just last year, I said that, “The potential breakout of Chris Moore seems more likely than ever, and should the top four receivers all pan out, Baltimore’s offense will be in its best condition since 2014.

I was definitely right about the second half of that statement, but on Chris Moore, I missed the mark. Moore went down in targets, yards, yards per catch, and touchdowns in 2018. The only place he improved was his catch rate. He caught 76.0% of all targets in 2018, in contrast to just 47.4% and 43.8% in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

But all of this information is irrelevant to the question. Will Chris Moore breakout in 2019? The answer: Yes (probably).

Chris Moore will succeed by default if the Ravens make no additions to the wide receiver group. Baltimore cutting Michael Crabtree and losing John Brown automatically makes Moore the second best receiver on the depth chart. As wide receiver number two, Moore would see a significant increase in targets. That increase in targets would yield many more catches and yards accumulated for the young receiver. But it would be naive to assume the Ravens will leave the wide receivers group as it is.

Last year, the Ravens waited until most of the high priced free agents were off the market to sign Michael Crabtree. This move is not an anomaly. Baltimore constantly executes this pattern of finding low priced veteran wide receivers, cut as salary cap casualties. The minute a wide receiver that fits this profile hits the market this offseason, Baltimore will be making calls. The Ravens also have the option to add a wide receiver through the draft.

The Ravens will almost certainly add a wide receiver or two between the time this article is published and the start of training camp. However, when the Ravens add a new wide receiver, Chris Moore will likely still sit in the top three positions on the depth chart. As a result, Chris Moore will receive more playing time than in previous years, and as one of just two wide receivers on the roster that caught a ball from Lamar Jackson last year, Moore will be trusted by the starting quarterback more than others.

If Moore is going to truly breakout in 2019, he will need to capitalize on the opportunities afforded to him. The most important aspect of this is his catch rate. As demonstrated earlier, the rate dramatically shot up in 2018. If that trend of improvement continues, and Moore receives more targets, then he should be able to rack up the catches in 2019.

One can continue to bang the drum for Chris Moore, and outline how he has all the tools needed to become a breakout wide receiver in 2019. Ultimately, though, Moore’s success is entirely dependent on himself. If he works hard this offseason and comes in with the right frame of mind next year, he will be one of the hottest players of the year. So if you can draft him in the later rounds of your fantasy football draft, be ahead of the curb, and pick him up.

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