The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Markus Wheaton to be the departing Mike Wallace‘s replacement. However, after suffering two broken fingers and missing four games, that was not the case. Wheaton has the speed and versatility to eventually be a No. 1 receiver, but that will not happen right now.
In 12 games played, Wheaton had just six catches for 64 yards and zero touchdowns. Antonio Brown was the de facto No. 1 wide out with 110 catches for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders had 67 receptions for 740 yards and six scores. Even Jerricho Cotchery hauled in 46 passes for 602 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Both Sanders and Cotchery are free agents this offseason. If the Steelers fail to sign one of both of the wide receivers, Wheaton can see an increased role in 2014. Sanders is more likely to leave Pittsburgh, opening up that No. 2 spot. Cotchery will stay as the No. 3 option. An early prediction for Wheaton would be 40 catches for 505 yards and four touchdowns.
If Wheaton does make the starting lineup, don’t expect big numbers right away. He is practicing with Ben Roethlisberger, trying to build a rapport, but playing together in games will be the telltale sign of boom or bust. Wheaton should have great success with Roethlisberger as his quarterback.
In deep leagues, Wheaton is draftable as a WR5 in the later rounds. In standard eight or 10-team leagues, I wouldn’t draft Wheaton. However, if he plays well in September, he will be one of the first players fantasy owners target off the waiver wire.