Mike Wallace top-20 WR with upside
To see Christopher Harris' rankings for the 2013 fantasy football season, click here for updates throughout the offseason.
Here's a rundown of the key free-agent signings and other transactions that matter in the fantasy world:
Mike Wallace to the Miami Dolphins: All this talk about how Wallace is a one-dimensional player is revisionist history. Is he one of the fastest players in the NFL? Yes. Is he the best vertical threat on his team? Yes. But the notion that all he does is run down the field with his arm in the air is ridiculous. In 2012, 64 of his 119 targets traveled 20 yards or fewer in the air. In Todd Haley's offense with the Pittsburgh Steelers, emphasis was placed on shorter stuff; only 21.4 percent of Ben Roethlisberger's targets traveled more than 20 yards in the air, which was 27th among starting NFL quarterbacks. Is Wallace a bull going over the middle? No, but he runs precise routes and, most importantly, is a home run hitter. His limitations with the Dolphins involve questions about QB Ryan Tannehill, who had 12 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions in his rookie campaign. The truth is, though, that Tannehill took deeper shots than Big Ben last season, and Joe Philbin likes to mix in long throws. With Wallace, he will. There are worse places Wallace could have landed (the Minnesota Vikings come to mind). He'll be reliant on Tannehill, as well as Brian Hartline and Davone Bess being distractions for opposing defenses, but the weekly upside with Mr. 60 Minutes is as high as with almost any WR. He's 20th on my list, with room to grow.
Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers: I find it curious that on Monday the trades of Boldin and Percy Harvin were lumped together by most talking heads. One radio station in Boston went so far as to claim the Boldin was a "gift" from one Harbaugh brother to the other and that he presents far more value exchanged for a sixth-round draft pick than Harvin presented exchanged for a first, third and seventh. Hogwash. You can't argue Boldin wasn't immense in the 2012 playoffs, and he's a good intangibles player. But whatever speed he had with the Arizona Cardinals is gone. With the Baltimore Ravens, he essentially played tight end: According to Pro Football Focus, Boldin ran 62.2 percent of his routes out of the slot last season, which is more than Harvin's 59.8 percent. In his past two seasons with the Ravens, Boldin hasn't topped 65 catches or four touchdown receptions. It seems to me that there's an overabundance of possession-style receivers in San Francisco -- Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. Do I think Boldin was worth the price of a sixth-rounder? Well, he's on the books for $6 million in 2013, but if you can get past that cap issue, sure, it's fine. Do I think Boldin winds up inside the top 40 fantasy WRs next year, even with an ascendant Colin Kaepernick? I do not. Crabtree is the player I want to own there.
Martellus Bennett to the Chicago Bears: The stars were aligned for super-deep sleeper Kellen Davis to contribute in 2012, but I forgot one thing: You have to be able to catch the football to be a good tight end. Davis couldn't. He had seven drops and 19 catches. So he's gone from Chicago, and Bennett is in. There's no question Bennett has athletic potential galore, and while nobody will confuse him with Harvin in terms of sure-handedness, Bennett had seven drops last season and 55 catches. That's better. Bennett is significantly faster than Davis and is known as a willing and accomplished blocker, but his fantasy value, and that of other Bears, is contingent upon the same question: Will Chicago do enough to fix the offensive line? Perhaps signing Jermon Bushrod to play left tackle will help (I have my doubts), but we've all been fooled enough by Jay Cutler over the past few seasons to adopt a wait-and-see approach. For the moment, Bennett is my No. 10 fantasy TE as a result of this news.
Jared Cook to the St. Louis Rams: Remember when you believed in Lance Kendricks? Well, at least Cook has 131 career catches, compared to Kendricks' 70, and there's no doubt Cook provides more field-stretching ability. But as with Bennett, you must ask yourself whether that will matter. The Rams' pass protection has so much to prove, and for all the end-of-season flashes and speed/size combo, Cook has never exceeded 49 grabs in a year. There will be many players who fit his mold at tight end, guys you can imagine taking a big leap forward and being a fantasy steal. For the moment, he's my No. 14 fantasy tight end.
David Garrard to the New York Jets: I include Garrard not because I think he's looking at any kind of fantasy resurgence with the Jets at age 35 but rather as an indication that Mark Sanchez has less rope than any NFL QB. Expecting a rebirth of New York's passing game is foolhardy. I honestly can't envision a scenario where Sanchez is with the Jets in 2014, so you have to ask yourself, why not give Garrard a chance to stir the echoes? With Dustin Keller looking likely to leave, Santonio Holmes returning from a Lisfranc injury and Stephen Hill still a young pup, you're best advised to just stay away entirely from what might be the worst offense in football.
Ryan Fitzpatrick cut by the Buffalo Bills: How do you know your team doesn't want you? When cutting you will cost them a $10 million cap hit and they go ahead and do it anyway. New coach Doug Marrone is likely looking at his Syracuse starting QB Ryan Nassib in April's draft, and he has kept Tarvaris Jackson on the Buffalo roster. All this is a reminder that Steve Johnson isn't exactly looking studly for 2013. He's currently at No. 30 on my WR list.
Other moves of note: Anthony Fasano got a whole bunch of dough (a $4.5 million signing bonus) to block behind Tony Moeaki for the Kansas City Chiefs. Delanie Walker joined the Tennessee Titans for $8.6 million guaranteed, but his new team will be happiest if he's just a blocker too, while second-year pro Taylor Thompson makes contributions in the receiving game. James Casey was just enough of a bummer in his last gig, stealing three TDs from Owen Daniels in 2012, and now he figures to leech from Brent Celek with the Philadelphia Eagles. None of these TEs will belong on fantasy rosters this season. Darrius Heyward-Bey, a former No. 7 overall pick, got his release from the Oakland Raiders. DHB made my list of flag players last summer, which was a terrible, terrible call. He'll land somewhere and not be worth your fantasy attention. Finally, Plaxico Burress re-upped with the Steelers, but the days when he might be a legitimate replacement for Mike Wallace are many, many years gone by. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are the wide receivers you can consider with the Steelers.
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