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Fantasy Football: Mike Wallace’s value is on the rise with Ravens

Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

It’s important to not get too carried away with Week 1 performances. Every year, fantasy owners see their fellow owners overreact and make an irrational decision based on just one game.

Just think if the same performance happened in the middle of the season – it wouldn’t get nearly as much attention. Owners would consider it an aberration rather than a trend setter, which every Week 1 performance is by default.

That being said, there do have to be some trend-setting performances in the first week, and owners may have received one from first-year Ravens wideout Mike Wallace.

The 30-year-old became a forgotten man in Miami and then Minnesota, but he looked like his Pittsburgh self in purple last Sunday, catching three passes for 91 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown. He also led the team with six targets.

The fact Wallace averaged over 30 yards per catch, in large part because of the long touchdown pass, is a great sign for the receiver. During his first three years in the league, he posted at least a 16.6 yards per catch clip each season and finally made the Pro Bowl in 2011.

But after his holdout in the summer of 2012, he never was the same. Wallace averaged 13.1 yards per catch in 2012 and then the following three seasons in Miami and Minnesota, he didn’t even reach that total, averaging under 13.0 yards per reception.

The biggest problem with the Dolphins and Vikings is neither of those teams had a quarterback who could throw deep or an offensive line that was able to pass protect long enough for Wallace to streak down the field. Even with his speed, Ryan Tannehill and Teddy Bridgewater needed four seconds to let the fly pattern to develop, and they often didn’t have that. Opposing defenses sacked Tannehill 104 times in the two-year span Wallace played for the Dolphins.

Those offenses just weren’t conducive to a one-trick pony such as Wallace, who isn’t really a good route runner. He’s at his best using his speed down the field on a deep pass or after the catch on a short screen or slant pattern.

Don’t be mistaken, Wallace is still a one-trick pony, but the Ravens are a much better fit for him to perform well, and it showed in Week 1. Quarterback Joe Flacco has one of the best arms in the game, so unlike Tannehill and Bridgewater, he actually has a willingness to throw the ball deep.

Baltimore also has an above average offensive line. Pro Football Focus ranks the Ravens line 13th-best in the league, so Flacco should be given enough time to find Wallace down the field.

Things to worry about with Wallace stem from the crowded Baltimore receiving core to his all-or-nothing style. It’s a great sign he led the Ravens in targets, but Flacco also found 10 receivers in Week 1. Barring injury, that’s a lot of mouths to feed.

One could argue at this point that either Wallace, Steve Smith Sr., Breshad Perriman or Kamar Aiken could become this team’s leading receiver. And don’t forget that tight end Dennis Pitta is healthy, and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman loves throwing to the running backs.

That’s going to limit Wallace’s value because, more than likely, he’s not going to receive a ton of targets. When he does get his chances, he’ll have to take advantage as he did this past Sunday, but he isn’t going to shed the boom-or-bust label this year.

Consider Wallace a WR-4 with tremendous upside heading into Week 2. He’s far from a guy owners should want in the starting lineup on a week-to-week basis, but Wallace is worth a roster spot. The 30-year-old is owned in just 58.9 percent of ESPN leagues.

Fantasy Football: Mike Wallace’s value is on the rise with Ravens



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