Mike Wallace is a fantasy flier despite landing in Baltimore
The Baltimore Ravens signed free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace to a two-year, $11.5 million contract, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Just one season after finishing as fantasy’s WR18 (standard scoring) with the Miami Dolphins, Wallace became an afterthought with the Minnesota Vikings in 2015. He posted career lows in receptions (39), receiving yards (473), and receiving touchdowns (2).
Leaving Bill Lazor’s offense in Miami for a more vertical-based attack with Norv Turner in Minnesota didn’t lead to fantasy success, but should the failures be attributed to Wallace? Turner’s offense was limited with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. Bridgewater attempted just 48 passes that traveled 20-plus yards in the air (23rd-”most”) and he completed just 15 of them for 436 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Before Joe Flacco lost his two best deep threats during the 2015 season, he was one of the NFL’s best deep passers in 2014 with Torrey Smith and Steve Smith. On passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air, Flacco finished as the sixth-most accurate passer, with the third-most touchdown passes (11) and just two interceptions.
Torrey is gone but Steve should be back to help free up Wallace in one-on-one situations in 2016. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Wallace has joined a potentially crowded wide receiver corps. In addition to Smith, the Ravens have 2015 first-rounder Breshad Perriman and Kamar Aiken.
And it’s not like Wallace can perform anywhere close to how he did in 2015 and expect to hold down a starting job. Wallace finished as the No. 116 wide receiver among 119 qualifying receivers who played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps. Aiken finished No. 15 overall. If Perriman shows health and improved knowledge of the offensive scheme, Wallace could be fighting with Smith and Aiken for snaps on the outside and in the slot in 11-personnel.
However, the Ravens didn’t pay Wallace to serve as depth, and they certainly didn’t pay him for his special teams prowess. He will compete for a major role in the offense. In 2014, with a quarterback he never developed chemistry with, Wallace finished with a plus-receiving grade. There’s a role for Wallace in Baltimore and a quarterback who can mesh well with him. It’s up to him to work out and come prepared for the best opportunity he’s going to get to recapture his old form. For now, he can best be viewed as a late-round wide receiver flier with upside in standard leagues.
Dan Schneier is a staff writer at PFF Fantasy. You can find him on Twitter @DanSchneierNFL.