By Chris Spooner, DFW Writer


Once thought of as a premier speed receiver in the NFL, new Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace now finds himself hoping that the 2016 NFL season is a redemption story. Now on his third team in as many years, Wallace is on a quest to prove to the league that he’s not just the locker room cancer, typical wide receiver diva that he’s been portrayed as since leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers. Instead of cementing his legacy as a top-flight wide-out, Wallace will instead be attempting to prove that he’s still relevant. Mike Wallace was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, as the 11th wide receiver in the class, in one of the weakest draft classes across the board in recent memory. Of that draft class, only 9 of the 32 first round selection have made the Pro Bowl during their career. Wallace was not highly thought of coming out of Ole Miss, as evidenced by the fact that he was taken behind guys like Brian Robiske, Mohamed Massaquoi, Derrick Williams, and Brandon Tate. Four receivers who have roughly half the career receptions combined as Williams has alone through his career. Safe to say that Wallace has made some teams regret overlooking him. That production, however, has tapered off severely since Wallace left the comforts of Pittsburgh, and star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, for bigger and better thing (or contracts, at least). In the four seasons since his departure from the black and gold, Wallace has had one season that wasn’t an abject failure. His first season in Miami, after signing a monster contract in free agency, Wallace put up good numbers, hauling in 73 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards and 5 touchdowns. The second season in Miami, his numbers fell slightly in both receptions and yardage, but he did double his touchdown output — all-in-all, not a terrible season, but not the All-Star caliber production his contract demanded. The second, and final, season in Miami ended on a sour note, with Wallace quitting on his teammates and walking off the field during the Dolphins final game. During the off-season, Wallace was traded for next to nothing to the Minnesota Vikings. His one season in the NFC North proved to be his worst season as a professional. Wallace and young up-and-coming quarterback Teddy Bridgewater never seemed to be on the same page, and Wallace was never a good fit for the offense.  So now Wallace finds himself in Baltimore, hoping to rekindle the production he had in Pittsburgh as the league’s premier deep threat. He has a poor man’s Ben Roethlisberger in Joe Flacco as his quarterback, and if Wallace is ever going to be the wide receiver everyone thought he would become, the time is now.



2015Minnesota Vikings16123947312.12
2014Miami Dolphins16166786212.910
2013Miami Dolphins16167393012.75
2012Pittsburgh Steelers15146483613.18
2011Pittsburgh Steelers161472119316.68
2010Pittsburgh Steelers161660125721.010
2009Pittsburgh Steelers1643975619.46


wallace2 None of us really knows which Mike Wallace is going to show up this season in Baltimore. If it’s the Mike Wallace of last year in Minnesota, then he’s going to have no fantasy impact to speak of, and is a player you should avoid like the plague. However, if he’s the player that he was in Pittsburgh and Miami (if you ignore the character issues and just look at production), then there may be some value there. If not in Wallace himself, in the impact that he should have on Joe Flacco and the Baltimore running game. When it comes down to whether or not to draft Wallace, I would take caution with him. I’ve been burned too many times on players who had the potential to return back to dominant forms. I want to see Wallace contribute well and consistently for a few weeks before I consider him as an option in conventional fantasy leagues. If you’re in a 12-team league and already deep at the position, he might be worth a flyer, but in any other circumstance I would stay away from drafting him, but keep him on the radar as a mid-to-late season waiver wire addition. Even if Wallace does revert to his pre-Minnesota form, however, I’m not sure he’s worth a draft pick in a dynasty format. The reality is that Wallace is approaching 30, and has already entered his 8th season in the league. His best days are almost certainly behind him, and if he doesn’t revert to the player he was in Pittsburgh, he may not have any days in the NFL ahead of him.


As mentioned above, it’s difficult to project what sort of impact one can reasonably expect this season from Wallace, as no one really knows which Mike Wallace is going to show up in Baltimore. If the Ravens are getting the perennial deep-threat and top-tier receiver that Wallace was during his time with the division rival Steelers, then you should expect a big bounce-back from Wallace. Wallace finally has a quarterback in Flacco who is fairly adept at throwing the deep ball, which is where Wallace excels, being one of, if not the fastest guys on the field each and every Sunday. If the Ravens are getting THAT Mike Wallace, then it opens up the fantasy potential for not only Wallace, but the guys around him as well, in particular the running attack. Bringing in the kind of speed that Wallace possesses, no matter which Wallace they’re getting, will force defenses to account for the “blow the top off the defense” ability he has, taking at least one defender out of the box and making it easier on whomever is carrying the rock. If Wallace can be a consistent deep threat like he was in Pittsburgh, the Ravens running backs can expect to see fewer men in the box every Sunday, which should help their production. If Wallace sees a return to the caliber that got him the 5-year / $60 million contract from the Dolphins, then it’s pretty obvious the kind of impact that will have on quarterback Joe Flacco. Off a down season in 2015, due in large part to the departure of Torrey Smith to the 49ers, and the injury to Steve Smith leaving him with a depleted, at best, wide receiver corps. The addition of Wallace provides Flacco with an exception speed on the outside, with all the talent in the world. Flacco would see a sizeable increase in his fantasy value if Wallace can have the sort of impact he’s capable of. But all of this is a lot of speculation that we have no way of knowing until the season actually begins. Financially speaking, much like the deal with running back Trent Richardson, there is little risk involved in bringing in Mike Wallace. He is in Baltimore on a two-year deal, worth just over 11 million dollars, with 3.5 of that coming this season. For a #1 receiver (which is what Wallace would be if he reverts to his old form), that isn’t much money at all. Wallace is still only 29 years old, so he’s not yet in the downward slope of his career, so the deal has the potential to work out very much in the Raven’s favor, as well as being good for Wallace. As with Richardson, if Wallace goes out there this year and proves that he can be the guy he once was, he could see a significant bump in pay come next season or the season after.


I think it’s reasonable to say that Wallace’s departure from the Vikings could, and probably will, have a positive impact on the team. Wallace has proven that when he’s not happy, he’s not one to keep that bottled up. He has no qualms about letting his frustrations show on the field, which undoubtedly has a negative impact on the players around him. With the Vikings building a young squad with a lot of potential, that’s not the kind of influence you want around those guys. His departure should alleviate a lot of issues that the offense had last season, and I expect to see better numbers from the aforementioned Teddy Bridgewater, along with the rest of the Vikings offense. As for Wallace’s previous team, the Miami Dolphins, again I would argue that his departure had a positive impact on the team. Maybe the only positive impact the Dolphins could muster last season. Wallace’s departure paved the way for Jarvis Landry to become the focal point of the offense, leading to a career year for the young receiver, and the future looks bright. No longer does the team have to manufacture touches for Wallace in an effort to keep his ego up and quell the always-impending meltdown. The team is free to spread the ball around to Landry and last season’s first-round selection Devante Parker.