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Darnell Mooney

Atlanta No. 2 could thrive with Cousins

As always, there are some guys Fantasy Index appears to be higher and lower on than the general consensus. We often talk about the big ones (Zay Flowers is one I mentioned yesterday). Here's a smaller one, it seems: Darnell Mooney.

In the best-ball draft I wrote about yesterday, we've reached the end of the 13th round. There have been 64 wide receivers drafted. Still on the board (but I'm selecting him as we speak) is our 42nd-ranked wideout in PPR leagues, Mooney.

Mooney was pretty quiet in Chicago the last two years, with just 40 and 31 catches. Nothing to write home about. But that was a Justin Fields-led passing offense that ranked 32nd and 27th the last two seasons. The year before that (and that was also a bottom-1o passing offense), Mooney caught 81 passes for 1,055 yards. He's shown he can play, and he's in a much, much better situation this year.

A couple of days after signing Kirk Cousins, the Falcons gave Mooney a 3-year, $39 million contract in free agency, with $26 million fully guaranteed. He'll be their No. 2 this season across from Drake London. And Cousins' No. 2 wideouts over the years have tended to fare pretty well.

Table shows the top 2 wideouts in Cousins' nine years as a starting quarterback (three with Washington, six with Minnesota), with the final column showing their ranks in PPR leagues. Different teams and offenses and players, but two-thirds of those No. 2 wideouts (6 of 9) at least ranked in the top 35, and two of them in the top 10. Drake London is being selected in the second and third rounds of drafts. If he's going to get that kind of boost from Cousins, I think his No. 2 should be selected a little bit earlier than WR65.

COUSINS' TOP 2 WIDE RECEIVERS, 2015-2023
YearPlayerTgtRecYdsAvgTDRk
2015Pierre Garcon1117277710.8631
2015Jamison Crowder785960410.2251
2016Pierre Garcon11479104113.2324
2016Jamison Crowder996784712.6825
2017Jamison Crowder1036678912.0332
2017Ryan Grant654557312.7454
2018Adam Thielen153113137312.297
2018Stefon Diggs149102102110.0910
2019Stefon Diggs9463113017.9621
2019Adam Thielen483041813.9765
2020Justin Jefferson12588140015.976
2020Adam Thielen1087492512.51410
2021Justin Jefferson167108161615.0104
2021Adam Thielen956772610.81028
2022Justin Jefferson184128180914.191
2022Adam Thielen1077071610.2631
2023Jordan Addison1087091113.01023
2023Justin Jefferson10068107415.8532

The Falcons also added Rondale Moore, and maybe they'll throw some balls to Kyle Pitts and their running backs too. But considering what Mooney has done in the past, the size of his contract, and his situation in an Atlanta offense that should pass the ball better than it did last year (and better than Chicago in any of Mooney's seasons), there's a pretty good chance he'll be a viable starter in fantasy leagues. And as a 13th-round pick, that's pretty appealing.

--Andy Richardson

Fantasy Index