Look for Mike Wallace to Return to Form in 2014

Ryan LesterSenior Writer IJuly 9, 2014

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) after the New York Jets were called for a penalty during the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins made a big splash last year when they signed Mike Wallace away from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unfortunately he was wildly inconsistent on the field. Can the speedster turn things around this year and be a more consistent fantasy threat? I believe he can.

Wallace set career-lows with five touchdown catches and a 12.7 yards per catch average in 2013. His 930 receiving yards were an improvement over the 836 he had in 2012, but significantly shy of the 1,225 he averaged in 2010 and 2011.

Wallace was consistent when you look at his season splits. He had 36 catches for 480 yards in his first eight games and 37 grabs for 450 yards in the last eight games. In eight wins he caught 37 balls for 479 yards. In eight losses he had 36 receptions for 451 yards. That’s where the consistency ends.

Here is a breakdown of receiving yards by game:

15-25 yards: Six games
38-41 yards: Three games
76-82 yards: Three games
105-127 yards: Four games

In terms of yardage, that’s nine bad games, three good games and four great games. None of the seven good-to-great games came in three consecutive weeks. Only twice did they occur back-to-back.

If you can’t string together three decent games in a row with at least 50 yards, it’s hard to be considered a high-caliber fantasy football option.

Wallace did finish strong, however. He averaged 58.1 yards and 0.3 touchdowns per game on the year. In his final six games he averaged 66 yards and 0.7 touchdowns. Half of his 100-yard games and 80 percent of his touchdowns came during the stretch.

The Dolphins figure to be infinitely more creative with Wallace this year as new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor plans to move him around the field (see early reports). Mike Sherman split Wallace wide right the majority of the time. Lazor will use Wallace out of the slot and out of the backfield to take advantage of the mismatches that Wallace’s speed and quickness creates.

Ryan Tannehill figures to take another step forward as well. He went from 3,294 yards and 12 touchdowns as a rookie to 3,913 yards and 24 touchdowns in his second year. Entering his third season, and with a more creative approach to utilizing their best weapon, Tannehill could be even better in Year 3.

In a system more suited to his skill set, Wallace should be much better in his second year with the Dolphins. He should be a quality WR2 option.

Check out Lester's Legends' early fantasy football rankings.