Breakout or Bust: Will The Steelers’ Markus Wheaton Emerge In 2014?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Pittsburgh Steelers watched Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery leave this off season, yet what did they do to replace them? Lance Moore? Darius Heyward-Bey? In other words they did very, very little. So where do they expect to get value?

Sophomore wide receiver Markus Wheaton, that’s where.

Last season the Steelers had five players with more than 13 targets, and two of them where Sanders and Cotchery. The two combined 113 receptions and 188 targets. Sure the veteran imports will see some of them, but it’s a better bet that Wheaton (who’s listed as a starter) makes a major impact than either of those two producing fantasy viable numbers.

A third round pick a year ago, a finger injury helped to limit him last season. He did appear in 12 games, but was targeted just 13 times and turned them into 6 receptions for 64 yards.

Coincidentally, prior to the draft Wheaton was compared to now teammate Antonio Brown by NFL.com and Mike Wallace by Walter Football. It’s interesting, because both have thrived in Pittsburgh’s offense. It’s easy to forget about Wallace, after his struggles last season, but he had as many as 72 receptions (2011), 1,257 yards (2010) and 10 TD (2010) in a season. He also had 8 TD or more in his final three years with Pittsburgh.

Walter Football said:

“His game is very comparable to Wallace’s. In the NFL, he could be a similar-style receiver but may not be as productive as Wallace has been. Wheaton could be a poor man’s Mike Wallace as a pro.”

Even if he doesn’t quite reach those levels, Wheaton’s ability to stretch the field is going to put him on fantasy radars. Looking at what Wallace did in a similar role, coupled with the opportunities, he’s well worth targeting late in your drafts. With news of him being listed on the first team, chances are his average ADP (currently 163.7) starts to rise. Still, it’s not going to be cost prohibitive in the final few rounds.

He may be a bit boom or bust, but at that point in the draft he’s well worth it.

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, Walter Football, Fantasy Pros

*** Make sure to pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Guide!!  The guide comes complete with projections of over 350 players, expended rankings, sleepers, and so much more (including constant updates up until opening day).  For just $6 you will get everything you need to dominate your fantasy league and one lucky subscriber will win a free autographed Brett Favre 8×10!  For more information and to place your order, click here. ***

Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings:

Late Round Running Back Fliers: Part II: Ahmad Bradshaw, James White & More
Dynasty Debate: Ryan Mallett vs. Derek Carr: Who Is The Better QB To Stash?

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