Mike Wallace’s first season with the Miami Dolphins was not what anyone envisioned when he signed a five-year deal prior to last season. He actually had more catches (73, a career-high) and yards (930) last year than he did in his final season with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012 (64 and 836 respectively), but he had a career-low five touchdowns and his yards per catch average continued a downward trend (12.7).
Wallace’s bread and butter is the deep ball, so the fact he and quarterback Ryan Tannehill only connected on six of 36 passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air is a lingering concern. New Dolphins’ offensive coordinator Bill Lazor looks likely to move Wallace around the formation after he lined up on the right side on 90 percent of the team’s snaps in 2013 (per the Miami Herald). That alone should set up some mismatches for Wallace, which should help him improve on his dreadful catch rate (52 percent) from last year.
Wallace was one of only 14 wide receivers in the league to be targeted at least 140 times (141) last year, but as could be expected his yards per target (6.6) ranked 34th out of 37 wide receivers that had at least 100 targets. His catch rate topped 60 percent in each of his two best seasons (2010 and 2011) before dropping off the last two years, so even marginal improvement in that area would help reverse downward trends in his surface stats and put Wallace in line to post a career-high in receptions this year.
Wallace’s target volume should not drop at all this year as Miami’s No. 1 wide receiver, and Lazor’s desire to increase the team’s offensive tempo should bring more opportunities for everyone. Wallace is currently being drafted as a WR3 at the start of the seventh round (per Fantasy Football Calculator.com), which puts him in line to be a tremendous value pick for fantasy owners that have faith in a rebound.
Wallace may never produce yardage and touchdowns like he did in 2010 (1,257 yards and 10 touchdowns) and 2011 (1,193 yards and eight touchdowns) ever again, and the potential for week-to-week inconsistency keeps me from fully buying into his fantasy upside for 2014. But for those that maintain reasonable expectations, maybe 80-85 receptions for over 1,000 yards with 5-10 touchdowns, Wallace can provide a nice return on a draft day investment.