Mike Wallace: The Underrated #1 Wide Out

I love me some Mike Wallace.

Last year I was big on Mike Wallace. I liked his talent in 2009 with the Steelers but would never draft him for fantasy because Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward (sans DUI and deteriorating ability) were still there and very few #3 receivers on any football team are fantasy relevant. (The only one I can think of is Steve Breaston in 2008 who had over 1000 receiving yards along with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin). But then my lucky day came when Pittsburgh shipped Holmes out to New York for his behavioral problems.

This meant that Mike Wallace would be one of Big Ben’s top two wide out targets and meant I wanted him for fantasy.

The reason I liked Wallace in 2009 was because he ranked 16th in DYAR and 4th in DVOA. Both rankings were better than: Greg Jennings, DeSean Jackson, and Brandon Marshall to name a few. [EDITOR'S NOTE, click here to better understand DVOA and DYAR]. It was no surprise that he ranked 4th in DVOA as it is essentially a metric of value per play. In 2009 Mike Wallace had an average of 19.5 YPC which led all wide receivers. Of course a receiver who, on average, gets the most yards every time he catches the ball would have an extremely high DVOA. DYAR is a metric for total value and he was somewhat hindered in that category because he only caught 39 passes. It was this low catch total that would have made me hesitant to draft him if both Ward and Holmes were on his team. In fantasy, we do not care per se about value per play, we care about total value. And with Holmes now gone I predicted his total value would increase. And I was right.

Wallace only went for $10 in my fantasy league last year and I wanted to pair him with Andre Johnson but sadly, at that point in the draft, $10 was too expensive for my blood. Wallace ended up finishing with 60 catches for 1,257 yards and 10 TDs- good for the fifth best fantasy wide receiver.

Last year, Wallace finished number one in both DVOA and DYAR. He actually increased his YPC to 21.0 which is even more impressive considering he had about a 54% increase in the amount of catches he had from the previous year (39 up to 60). He also increased his catch rate from catching 54% of his targets to catching 61% of his targets. Normally you see high average per play and high catch rates because of the small sample size but Wallace amazingly improved his per play average when given the full time starter job.

Wallace has been amazing for the past few years yet I feel like he gets little love. On a recent Fantasy Focus Football podcast, Nate said Wallace was a low end #1 receiver and Matthew Berry said disagreed and said he was a middle tier wide out. In a recent email to a GOI fan I was trying to convince him about the awesomeness of Mike Wallace in a PPR league. I know he doesn’t catch very many passes and his value is lower in a PPR league, but he’s my #1 in the Game of Inches PPR league and I love it. I think Mike Wallace is a top tiered wide out in fantasy- no matter what the format it. (I think Wallace is a great example of The PPR Fallacy).

Currently, Wallace is 10th among wide outs in ADP according to Mock Draft Central, ranked 8th among wide outs according to Yahoo!, and ranked 7th according to ESPN.com. Sure everyone has him as a number one wide out in all leagues deeper than the one from The League, but to me he's a top five receiver and he think he needs to start getting the respect like a top five wide receiver.

I love me some Mike Wallace.