SleepersAugust 23, 2010

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Sleeper Watch

By Michael Hawes

Aug. 12, 2010 - Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America - Aug 12, 2010: Carolina Panther quarterback Matt Moore ( ) looks downfield for a receiver in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens led the Panthers 10-3 at the half as the teams played their first preseason game at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.

Jake Delhomme was never supposed to make it in the NFL, yet as the Panthers capitalized on a strong running game, Delhomme managed to put up top-15 QB stats. Matt Moore was never supposed to make it in the NFL either; however, I believe Moore to be a more talented QB than Delhomme even in his prime.

A natural athlete with very good size for an NFL QB at 6′3″ and 202 pounds, Moore has decent arm strength, a nice deep ball, and seems to have a knack for scoring touchdowns. He is young and cavalier but also very smart on the field and plays each game to win; he shouldn’t be judged negatively for enjoying the game which I believe has been and unjust assessment by the Panthers.

After terrible play and injures forced (finally) Delhomme to the sideline, Moore quietly took over as the starting quarterback. With no support from his coaching staff, Moore went about his business over the final part of the season and got stronger with each start. The undrafted Moore started the final 5 games of 2009 for Carolina and amassed a pedestrian 990 passing yards. More importantly however, he threw for 8 TDs compared to only a single interception. If he had made enough pass attempts in 2009 to officially qualify with the league leaders, he would have scored a 98.5 passer rating and ranked 8th best in the league. He averaged 16.3 fantasy points per game as a starter and over his last 4 starts, increased that to 18.375 points per game. That would have ranked him as the #16 overall fantasy QB.

During the offseason, the Panthers coaching staff and general manager showed little confidence in Moore by drafting Jimmy Clausen. To his credit, Moore persevered and continued to improve during OTAs and training camp and was named the unequivocal starter in 2010, earning praise from the coaches and wide receiver Steve Smith.

Now, Moore heads into 2010, a contract year, in control of his own destiny. If he performs and the Panthers win, I expect that he will be rewarded with an extension or new deal. Moore could be wearing a Panthers uniform for a long time.

Moore is currently being ranked as the 28th QB in redraft leagues and his ADP is slightly higher at 25th. Will he light up the league and be a top 8-QB? Probably not. Is it possible that he has the most upside of any QB currently in the NFL? Yes. I believe that he can out play his current ADP by a full 10 spots and be a top-15 QB this year. Don’t be afraid to draft him ahead of guys like Kyle Orton, Alex Smith or Matt Cassel.

Michael Hawes is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Michael in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of bungle613.
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