The Miami Dolphins signed WR Mike Wallace to a five-year, $60 million contract in 2013. Wallace had back-to-back seasons of over 1,100 receiving yards and eight TDs with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 and 2011, but he failed to live up to those expectations his first season in Miami. But here’s why fantasy football players should take notice of him again in 2014.
Last year, Wallace finished with 930 yards and five TDs. I think that he can improve on both his yardage and his TD total in 2014. A receiver can be the most athletic and talented guy in the world, but he still needs the QB to put the ball in or at least close to his hands. Wallace’s QB is Ryan Tannehill.
In his 2012 rookie season, Tannehill threw for just under 3,300 yards with 12 TDs and 13 INTs. Last year, Tannehill improved those numbers to over 3,900 yards with 24 TDs and 17 INTs. With 30 INTs and 11 fumbles in two seasons, Tannehill isn’t a good fantasy QB, but he is good enough to make Wallace a guy who has high-end WR2 upside in 2014.
One reason is that Tannehill did manage to improve his numbers last season despite horrendous pass protection. The Dolphins’ offensive line ranked 21st in the NFL last year, and neither Lamar Miller nor Daniel Thomas offered much protection.
Miami has taken steps this offseason to improve Tannehill’s pass protection. The Dolphins signed Pro Bowl LT Branden Albert from the Kansas City Chiefs and took linemen Ja’wuan James and Billy Turner with their first and third picks in the draft. Miami also signed RB Knowshon Moreno this offseason. While Moreno is a mediocre rusher, he is great at pass-blocking, which is part of why he got the starting job last year with the Denver Broncos.
The other big reason Tannehill should be able to improve is the signing of Bill Lazor as the new offensive coordinator. Lazor was Nick Foles’ QB coach while with the Philadelphia Eagles last season, and is sure to have some input on Tannehill as well as exciting plays in mind for a talented WR like Wallace.
Again, I’m still skeptical as to whether Tannehill can improve drastically enough to be a fantasy QB in all but the deepest leagues, but I think he will improve enough to make Wallace a great WR to own in 2014.
All of the potential is there. Wallace almost reached 1,000 receiving yards despite a lackluster season and QB last year. He has a good chance to add 200 or 300 yards to that total in 2014. He can also grab up to six or seven more TDs this year.
Much of Wallace’s 2014 fantasy production rides on how much Tannehill can improve his deep ball, and whether Tannehill can get more time to throw. I think that both of those improvements are possible and likely given the Dolphins’ offseason moves. Wallace is a WR4 with great upside to be a dominant WR2. At his current 10th-round ADP, there’s no reason not to take a chance on a guy like that.