What Should You Do With Wallace On Draft Day?
As the month of August continues its relentless progression, those of you who have wisely chosen to participate in leagues that delay drafting until summer is nearing conclusion, are about to experience your highly anticipated events. Both your infinite patience, and your diligent preparations, are about to be rewarded during the draft process. Particularly if you will ultimately be satisfied with the rosters that you created. That is more likely to occur, if you make sure to move beyond the preponderance of focus that can often occur when planning the initial rounds. As it is also crucial to expend a sufficient amount of time examining how you might proceed during the middle and late rounds, while maintaining the always essential flexibility based upon the flow of each particular draft. That includes Rounds 5-9, which remains a critical phase within the overall construction of your rosters. For instance...you might find yourself in Round 5, with the knowledge that you have only chosen one WR through the initial four rounds. So you determine that securing your WR2 is now a priority. It is now your turn to select, DeSean Jackson, Steve Johnson, James Jones and Mike Wallace are all available to you, and you have 90 seconds (or less) to execute your selection. Will you know exactly what to do?
Having already cemented your own assessment of a player like Wallace – whose selection presents specific pros and cons to any potential owner– will provide great assistance in those situations. On the plus side, his track record of production is enticing. He began contributing to Pittsburgh’s offense almost immediately after the Steelers made him the 84th overall pick of 2009 NFL Draft. Wallace amassed 39 receptions for 756 yards, and also established his capabilities as a deep threat during his rookie campaign. His six TDs tied for the team lead, and he generated an impressive 19.4 YPC. In 2010, he became entrenched within the starting lineup, and became Pittsburgh’s most productive receiver. Not only did he lead the Steelers in receptions (60), yardage (1,257), and TDs (10), but only four WRs manufactured more yards that season, and his 26 catches of 20+ yards represented the NFL’s highest total. 10 of those catches registered 40+ yards, and his impressive 21 YPC was surpassed only by Jackson. Plus, he accomplished those results despite garnering just 60 catches… a total that was exceeded by 41 other players. The following season, he continued to excel, topping all Steelers with 72 receptions and 1,193 yards, while penetrating the end zone eight times.
A Turbulent 2012
However, his achievements during that prolific two-year span were followed by a turbulent 2012 offseason. He spurned the Steelers’ initial contract offer of $42.5 million, and balked at signing a one-year, $2.7 million tender offer. Rather than entering the 2013 season with the mission of signing both Wallace and Antonio Brown to new contracts, Pittsburgh executed a deal with Brown, and it became increasingly plausible that he would eventually assume the mantle as Pittsburgh's top receiver. Partially as a result of Wallace's decision to holdout rather than attend offseason workouts, mini-camp and training camp, which understandably damaged his relationship with the team.
Wallace ultimately reported on August 28, after finally signing the one-year tender. His numbers degenerated in comparison to the excellent output that he delivered in 2010 and 2011, and he was impacted by OC Todd Haley’s increased employment of shorter routes. However, even with the statistical degeneration that occurred last season, Wallace still managed to generate a team best eight TDs. And he caught 64 passes for 836 yards. Still, the foundation had been created regarding the team’s long-term plans for Wallace, as the contract issues had all but assured his eventual exit from Pittsburgh. When he signed a $60 million deal with Miami, the separation of playmaker and team became final.
An Ever-Present Downfield Threat
Wallace Will Bolster His proven ability to infuse explosiveness into the Dolphins' aerial attack will provide second-year signal caller Ryan Tannehill with an ever-present downfield threat. That fulfills a role that is desperately needed, as Miami ranked a meager 26th in passing offense last season, averaging 199 YPG. In fact, only two teams generated fewer TDs through the air, than the paltry 13 that Miami manufactured. Starting WRs Brian Hartline and Davone Bess combined for just two scores all year. And even though Hartline led the team with 1,083 receiving yards, 471 of those were amassed in three contests. As my colleague Greg Brosh recently discussed, Wallace's ability to stretch the field should improve the Dolphins' aerial attack. However, the frequency in which Wallace collects deep throws from Tannehill will be impacted by the Dolphins’ play calling. OC Mike Sherman is more willing to attempt downfield passing than most west coast offenses will display. But he certainly will not employ the deep ball to the degree that Bruce Arians did when Wallace thrived within his scheme. That is a legitimate reason for concern, although Wallace’s yardage total would be more negatively impacted than his ability to generate TDs. Wallace has yet to encounter difficulty in finding the end zone during his four professional seasons, and it is difficult to envision a sudden scoring draught now that he is firmly entrenched as Miami's premiere receiving option. But the potential exists for owners to be largely dependent upon Wallace to produce TDs, which will create a greater disparity in his weekly point totals than you would prefer to see. Your willingness to risk endure certain weeks in which Wallace does not accumulate a desirable amount of fantasy points will be a great determiner toward your level of interest in obtaining him.
Should You Draft Him?
What Is Wallace's However, it is important to avoid an overreaction to this potential occurrence. Because Wallace will still deliver a collection of big plays during the course of the regular season. His blazing speed can present an enormous challenge for opposing corners, who are not only vulnerable to being beaten by Wallace on deep routes, but on short patterns as well. If you remain unconvinced, here is further perspective on his accomplishments: Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt and Darrius Heyward-Bey, were the six WRs who were selected in the initial round of that same 2009 draft. After four years in their collective careers, Wallace has accumulated more yardage (4,042) and garnered more scoring throws (32) than all of those aforementioned first round picks.
Therefore, even with the uncertainly that now exists as a result of his altered environment, owners should remain confident in drafting him. Because his track record of supplying big plays and amassing TDs has been sufficiently consistent for you to dismiss it. Owners are currently selecting Wallace 20th among all WRs, and his current ADP of 58 places him near the close of Round 5 in 12-team drafts. That is reasonable placement, although that is the earliest Round in which he should be selected. For those who invest in him as a low end WR2/high end WR3, he should ultimately generate 65 receptions, 950 yards and seven TDs.