Fantasy Impact: Pittsburgh Steelers Select Markus Wheaton
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Markus Wheaton with the 79th pick
Markus Wheaton has flown pretty far under the radar in terms of draft eligible wide receivers. Most of the attention has been paid to the human joystick Tavon Austin the open field explosiveness of Cordarelle Patterson. In fact, a total of eleven receivers went off the board before the Steelers selected Wheaton, including players with question marks like Keenan Allen and Justin Hunter and a couple lesser hyped prospects in Aaron Dobson and Chris Harper. Meanwhile, Wheaton is going to get an immediate chance to start with a quarterback who knows how to utilize a wideout with his skill set perfectly.
I swear I typed this before tonight: The obvious comparison for Wheaton is Mike Wallace. He is just a hair smaller than Wallace was coming out in 2009 and he is not quite the straight-line burner that “60 Minutes” is, but any educated football mind who has sat down and watched Wheaton’s highlights (shown below) will note the similarities in styles of play. Wheaton actually has a much more polished game than Wallace at this point in their careers, though. In his senior year he finished in the top 15 in the country in both receptions and yards while scoring touchdowns in eight of 13 games, including three multi-touchdown games. He is a crisp route runner who can separate on the outside and knows how to leverage his body into winning contested and jump balls, making him an ideal deep threat. In his acclaimed Rookie Scouting Portfolio, Matt Waldman calls Wheaton “the best vertical receiver” in this draft class. In addition to his prowess in the receiving game, Wheaton has shown his versatility by averaging nearly eight yards on 83 career rushing attempts while scoring five rushing touchdowns. He was a team captain who has been praised for his work ethic on and off the field.
College statistics courtesy of Sports Reference
Fantasy Impact: I think Wheaton has a chance to be one of the rookies who makes the earliest impact in the NFL and in fantasy lineups. I wouldn’t draft him as anything more than a WR5 in redraft, but I love his upside with Big Ben. He couldn’t have landed in a better situation. Roethlisberger and Wallace were so good together because Ben is amazing at buying time in the pocket, thus enabling his deep threats to get downfield. I anticipate Wheaton following in Wallace’s footsteps. He is a legit late first round rookie pick in Dynasty Leagues.
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