Let’s take a look at his 2010 statistics — 60 receptions (41st), 1,257 yards (5th), 10 TDs (7th), 78.6 yards per game (7th), 21.0 yards per reception (2nd), 26 20+ yard receptions (1st), 10 40+ yard receptions (1st).
What can we learn from the raw numbers? Well, Mr. Wallace makes the most out of his opportunities for one. The 4 receivers that finished with more yardage than him all had 25 or more targets. The target discrepancy could be a little worrisome. If he gets the same amount of targets next season will he be able to get into the end zone 10 times and average 21 yards a reception? Maybe, but probably not. If his per catch averages fall a little like they should he would still be a good receiver, but not elite, but (you knew there would be another ‘but’ didn’t you? You’re smart!) let’s take a look at last year a little more closely.
In Wallace’s first 7 games he averaged 57 yards per game (34 targets). In his last 9 games he averaged 96 yards per game (70 targets). That’s an average of 4.8 targets in the first 7 games and 7.8 in the last 9 games. That is a trend I like. If the last 9 games were extrapolated to the full 16 games he would have 1 million fantasy points! Wait, my math is off. Suffice it to say, Wallace became the go to receiver as the season went on and Hines Ward became the outlet/first down reacher receiver.
According to Football Docs the Steelers have the easiest schedule against the pass in 2011. I don’t put too much credence in numbers from last season when it comes to pass defenses, but it’s better than them going up against the toughest pass defensive schedule! And it helps my argument!
It looks like his targets will go up, but what about the guys around him? Will they bring him down or boost him up? The Steelers are an ok team. I think they made it to the Super Bowl or something last season. Wallace’s long yardage receptions show that his QB must be good at throwing the deep ball and escaping defenders. And Ben Roethlisberger happens to be good at both. I don’t see him losing it even though he is getting married. Well, maybe, but probably not.
Rashard Mendenhall is a top running back who will help keep the defense honest, Hines Ward will continue to be sure handed over the middle, and Emmanuel Sanders flashed a lot of ability toward the end of last season and should also help take pressure off Wallace.
In PPR leagues you might be wary of Wallace, but I see his receptions hitting 70-75 next season and his yardage and TD totals ticking up a notch which makes him a top 5 receiver in PPR and a top 3 receiver in standard leagues. Yes, Andre Johnson, Roddy White, and Calvin Johnson will probably be ahead of him in most fantasy rankings, and sometimes Hakeem Nicks, Larry Fitzgerald, and possibly DeSean Jackson, but I’m nudging him right up there in the top 3. Take an early shot on 60 Minutes and you won’t be disappointed.
Besides Fanduel.com, Chet has written for the N.Y. Times: Fifth Down Blog, Tree.com, and his own sites Razzball and Third Coast Sports. He is extremely/obsessively active on Twitter and will answer your questions as best he can if you throw them @ChetRazzball.