Fantasy High 5: Mike Wallace, Reggie Bush and S-Jax
Fantasy High 5 is Gridiron Experts weekly discussion article where the staff add their opinions on popular fantasy football buzzing news stories. The long wait before the NFL Draft will be filled with smokescreens and rumored player favorites, so until then we will continue to dive into some of the top fantasy free agent signings. Last week’s Fantasy High 5 we discussed Percy Harvin and Danny Amendola, this week we take a look at Detroit, Atlanta along with a few AFC teams on the rise.
Those looking to get caught up on the who’s who of this year’s NFL rookie draft class, we strongly suggest you check out our NFL Draft Fantasy Prospect page. There you will not only get write-ups on all the top-ranked skilled players, but be able to see videos of the rookies from last season.
Question 1: What are your thoughts on Mike Wallace’s Fantasy stock now that he’s playing in Miami?
Many Fantasy owners are going to back off from Mike Wallace now that his quarterback has changed from the calm and cool Roethlisberger to second-year starter Ryan Tannehill. There’s a very good chance that Wallace sees a drop off in production, but considering what Tannehill was able to accomplish as a rookie with the wide receivers he did have last season, we should not overreact. What I’m looking forward to seeing are the moves the Dolphins make at the NFL draft. Finding a possession receiver could make life easier for the Dolphins’ rookie Quarterback and disrupt the double-coverage defensive strategy that will shadow Mike Wallace much of the season. If they can get a little more from the other skilled players on the field, I wouldn’t move Wallace too far down my fantasy draft board this Summer.
First, you always have to be concerned when a player gets the big money contract they’ve been seeking if they’ll lose the motivation to play as hard. Secondly, the Dolphins offense is a long way away from being a good one and there are questions if Mike Wallace is much of a fit. Wallace was brilliant as the deep threat in the Bruce Arians-run vertical offense in Pittsburgh, but Joe Philbin operates a different attack. Finally, it’s a big drop from multiple Super Bowl Championship winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to Ryan Tannehill, who did show some potential but still managed to toss only a dozen touchdowns in 16 games. Wallace is now a low-end WR2.
Wallace’s stock in Miami has to go up. Tannehill had great numbers for a rookie quarterback. The problem is that he was overshadowed by a much more talented group of quarterbacks. Wallace walks into a situation where Miami had two quality possession receivers (Bess & Hartline) who combined for 135 catches for 1800 yards. The issue is that Bess & Hartline also combined for 2 touchdowns. Wallace could easily get 1200 yards and 6 touchdowns in Miami. Upgrade for a guy who doesn’t have many talented wide receivers to fight with Wallace for targets.
Question 2: What are your thoughts on Reggie Bush in Detroit?
After two solid years in Miami we know Bush can get it done as a starting RB. He did it in Miami without a respectable passing game for defenses to worry about. That is not the case in Detroit. The Lions love to pass to their running backs and Bush is one of the best receiving backs in the NFL. This is a great fit for Bush, the Lions and fantasy owners. Bush could put up the numbers that were once expected from Jahvid Best.
The Lions have already said they’d like to utilize Bush in a role similar to how the Saints used him. That means less between-the-tackles runs and more pass catching out of the backfield. Mikel Leshoure is the best bet to be the goal line runner, so Bush’s TD numbers should be underwhelming. Assuming Bush can stay healthy, which is always a big concern for him, he looks like a nice RB2 in 2013 with an increased value in PPR leagues.
Mikel Leshoure is more of the traditional running back, so Reggie will most likely take over the Jahvid Best role. Matt Stafford led the NFL in pass attempts the last two years. If that continues, Bush could be considered a borderline RB1 in PPR leagues if he can stay on the field.
Leshoure and Bell combined for the 3rd most receptions among RB tandems in the NFL last season. Add Reggie Bush to the equation and the stat lines in PPR leagues have the potential of RB1 numbers. Bush has been able to stay healthy the last two seasons and if he gets the major share of the workload expect a dynamite offense in Detroit and great fantasy numbers from Bush.
My thoughts on Reggie Bush in Detroit are extremely positive. He’s bound to have some touchdowns vultured by Mikel LeShoure, but the potential is extraordinary, especially in PPR leagues. Bush has had his most successful seasons in the passing game when he’s not the main guy in the backfield; he had 162 catches combined in his first two seasons in New Orleans. At least 1,500 total yards, 60 receptions, and eight total touchdowns are a realistic possibility.
Question 3: Is Steven Jackson really that much more of an upgrade to Michael Turner?
Over the last couple of years, Turner has become more of a between-the-tackles guy without the break-away speed of his youth. That is Steven Jackson’s strong suit. They have become the same type of guy. Jackson will be an upgrade, but his role and impact will be similar to Turner’s.
There is no doubt about it…..in a PPR format. Turner and Jackson are basically the same back with one blaringly obvious difference: Jackson can catch out of the backfield and make a play.
Jackson has finished with over 1,000 yards and 30 catches the last five seasons. Over that same time period, St. Louis finished in the bottom three teams in total offense. Jackson is an upgrade as a pass catcher out of the backfield and will most likely take on goal-line duties. With a line that can block and a passing attack defenses cannot game plan for Steven Jackson alone. In comparison Jackson is a huge upgrade over the plodding Michael Turner. Jackson still looked explosive and with his pass catching abilities he could finish as a top ten running back in 2013.
Atlanta is a great fit for Jackson. With Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez getting lots of attention in the passing game Jackson is likely to see a lot more running lanes than he did in St. Louis. Turner was a hard-hitting RB that could provide small bursts of speed in the open field. Jackson is faster, more agile and adds another dimension since he’s a great pass catcher. Jackson seems old, but is only 29 and turner is 31. This is an all-around RB upgrade for the Falcons.
A thousand times yes. The only thing that’s ever been missing from Jackson’s fantasy game is TD’s. Turner averaged 11.8 TD’s per season in his five year tenure as a Falcon. He even managed to hit pay dirt 9 times last year despite the possibility that he may have been clinically dead the whole time (I haven’t watched the game film, so I’m not ruling out that the Falcons offensive linemen animated Turner’s corpse Weekend at Bernie’s style). Let’s say S-Jax can match Michael Turner’s 9 TD’s while maintaining the yardage numbers he accumulated last year in St. Louis. 1,346 total yards and 9 TD’s would have been good for a 12th place finish among running backs in standard scoring fantasy leagues a season ago. That’s low-end RB1 territory without taking into account that those yardage numbers could improve as Jackson faces less stacked fronts this season. I’ll be glad to scoop him up in round 2 of fantasy drafts wherever possible.
Yes. Jackson has shown no signs of breaking down, as his YPC numbers have remained consistent, even with a lesser St. Louis offensive line. Now he gets to run behind one of the better lines in the league in Atlanta. S-Jax will also benefit from playing with a much improved supporting cast, which will make him a secondary concern for the opposing defense, rather than the primary focus that he’s been throughout his career. Unlike Michael Turner, Jackson is a dangerous pass-catcher and that will add a new and dangerous element to Atlanta’s already potent offense. S-JAX is approaching RB1 territory and is a nice snag in the second round.
Question 4: Will Wes Welker become Mannings go-to WR? Or do see an even distribution to Decker and D. Thomas and Welker?
Welker will become just another cog in the Broncos’ offensive machine. That is not a bad thing, 8-12 touchdowns and 800-1200 yards is well within reach. The Denver offense is going to be balanced again this year, will score a lot of points, but will not feature Welker. Decker and Thomas are too good to take a seat behind the former Patriot.
This lowers all of their values. All three will be good options, but I think we are looking at an an offense from a fantasy perspective, that will look similar to Green Bay or New England. Loads of talent, and the top performer could be different each week.
Honestly, Manning could have three go-to number one receivers. I’ve already explained my thoughts on the situation: Wes Welker Fantasy Football 2013
Brady and Welker had the kind of chemistry and trust that you can’t build in one offseason. Meanwhile the Broncos’ other two receivers are bigger players who already have the luxury of Manning’s trust. At this point, Welker looks like Denver’s third option and that could lead to some very modest fantasy numbers; at least when compared to the totals we’ve seen Welker put up over the last several years.
Question 5: Who is the one Free Agent signing you see doing the worst in Fantasy this season?
It’s not hard to envision Wes Welker‘s numbers dropping off in Denver. Welker will be the slot receiver and an upgrade from Brandon Stokley, yet Stokley’s numbers were not great in 2012. The Broncos run a little more than the Patriots because they don’t keep their foot on the gas pedal with a lead. Welker is still a receiver worth having, but a few weeks into the season you might find yourself benching him.
I have to disagree with you there Darren. Wes Welker saw 175 targets in 2012, and while Peyton Manning may not make Welker his first look on every snap, Manning studies way too much film not know what an amazing asset and elusive clutch receiver Welker can be. Receptions made dip, but I strongly believe Welker’s red zone and 3rd down targets will remain strong. Sticking with the Broncos though, I wouldn’t be surprised if Eric Decker took a backseat with Welker now in town.
Rashard Mendenhall had trouble staying healthy and having consistent fantasy production when he was playing in a decent offense. Now he will be looking for running room behind a poor offensive line with very little to offer in the way of a passing game. He went from a possible late round guy to a complete non-factor.
Going off of numbers from 2012 to 2013 I think the worst fantasy free agent is Shonn Greene. Greene signed with the Titans filling mostly goal-line duties and as a change of pace option. He finished 2012 with over 1000 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns. It would take quite an injury to CJ2K for Greene to put up comparable numbers. Rashard Mendenhall was a close second on this one. Mendenhall could be the worst because Arizona is the place running backs go to die (or at least get injured).
The Titans gave more guaranteed money to Shonn Greene to be a back-up than the Atlanta Falcons paid Steven Jackson to be a full-time starter. Greene has been a perennial disappointment and now gets to play even less behind a much more inferior offensive line.