The wide receiver situation for the Pittsburgh Steelers has gotten pretty interesting lately for Steelers fans and for fantasy football managers.
Mike Wallace, arguably a Top 10 fantasy wide receiver, is holding out for a monster payday from the black and gold while Antonio Brown just cashed in. The Steelers insist that Wallace is not available for trade, but the Miami Dolphins are already sniffing around, wanting to get Wallace down to South Beach.
So what’s a fantasy football manager to do?
Last season, Wallace secured 72 receptions for 1,193 yards and 8 touchdowns. We all know that he’s a speed demon in a pass-first offense and perpetually a deep threat.
Take a closer look at his game stats from 2011, though. You’ll see that he faded in the second half of the season, particularly after the Steelers’ bye week.
Yet he’s still being selected in the fourth round of Yahoo fantasy football leagues as the No. 10 wide receiver overall. That’s a dangerously large investment for a player who might be shipped to Miami, where fantasy football wide receivers go to die.
Nothing good can come out of Wallace’s holdout, which has the potential to extend through the first 10 games of the season. The Steelers clearly aren’t going to pay him what he wants right now, he’s missing valuable prep time for the 2012 season, and he’s giving Brown all kinds of time and opportunity to take his job from him.
Brown is a fantasy football bargain right now. In Yahoo fantasy football leagues, he’s not going until the middle of the 7th round as the No. 26 receiver.
Brown, of course, is now locked up by the pass-happy Steelers, so there is no question that he will play all year, barring injury. Let’s look at his game stats from 2011. He finished the season with 69 receptions for 1,108 yards and two scores, doing most of his damage in the second half of the season while Wallace was fading.
Those stats were compiled with just three starts to his name, too.
He also kills it in the return game, if your fantasy football league provides points for that category, bringing back kickoffs and punts for another 1,062 yards and one touchdown.
What can Brown do for you?
In point-per-reception leagues, Brown carries a lot of value. Over the final 10 weeks of the season, he caught 51 passes for 846 yards and his two touchdowns. In normal PPR scoring systems, that’s 147 fantasy points.
Over that same period of time, Wallace caught 39 passes for 581 yards and 4 touchdowns. In normal PPR leagues, that’s 121 fantasy points.
Even in standard leagues, with no credit for receptions, Brown scored 96 fantasy points to Wallace’s 82 points over the final 10 weeks of the season.
It remains to be seen how Brown will perform as a full-time starter and focal point of the Steelers pass offense. It’s also hard to imagine Pittsburgh continuing to allow him to return kicks and punts, but you never know. There is certainly some risk there in relying on Brown, but there’s also a lot of potential reward.
Unless something drastic happens between now and the time of your fantasy football draft, don’t spend a fourth round draft pick on Wallace. That’s way too expensive for a player surrounded by so many question marks.
At the same time, you can probably get Brown for a bargain and get more production out of him than you’d get with Wallace.