Only four months separated the births of Mike Wallace (August 1st, 1986) and DeSean Jackson (December 1st, 1986). And only two-hundredths of a second separated the 40-yard dash times of Wallace (4.33) and Jackson (4.35). What separates their 2013 fantasy football value?
Up to this point in their careers, Wallace has a slight edge on Jackson in terms of fantasy football production. The two separating factors have been Wallace’s better durability and his touchdown prowess. While Jackson has averaged nearly two missed games per season, Wallace has missed only one game in his four-year NFL career. Over those four seasons, Wallace has accounted for 32 receiving touchdowns, including at least 8 in each of the past three years. Jackson has only managed to catch 23 touchdowns in his five NFL seasons. Those numbers were likely major contributing factors for the following 2013 rankings:
According to the above group of analysts, the answer as to what separates Wallace and Jackson in fantasy football is thirteen other wide receivers. FantasyPros.com, which aggregates the rankings of many top experts, exhibits an even greater discrepancy; Wallace is ranked 20th and DeSean Jackson finds himself slotted 41st. The current ADP calculated by FFGator.com falls in line with those rankings. Wallace’s ADP lies at 55.3, which places him as the 22nd wide receiver off of the board. Jackson’s ADP places him nearly two rounds later at 77.5 and he is currently the 31st wide receiver being drafted. If Wallace was still in Pittsburgh and there wasn’t a changing of the guard in Philadelphia, then that separation may still be warranted. However, the new environments for both players will play a major role in their future fantasy value.
Wallace has all but signed with the Miami Dolphins, where he must develop chemistry with a new quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins top two leading receivers from 2012 will both be returning; they recently resigned Brian Hartline to a six-year contract and Davone Bess is still under contract for another year. Wallace is the most talented of the group, but the sophomore quarterback does have a comfort level with the other two receivers. Tannehill can be expected to improve upon his 3294 passing yards, which ranked him 20th at the position, however the distribution of those yards is a major uncertainty.
I mentioned earlier that Wallace managed to maintain a terrific touchdown rate with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Well, the Dolphins accounted for only thirteen passing touchdowns (twelve of which were courtesy of Tannehill) in 2012; that placed them third-to-last among NFL teams and doesn’t exactly bode well for continuing of Wallace’s three-year streak of 8+ touchdowns. In Brandon Marshall’s two seasons with the franchise, he was only able to reach the end zone nine times – his 11 touchdowns this past season with Chicago fell just one short of Tannehill’s total as a rookie.
In Philadelphia, Michael Vick is looking like the front-runner for the starting gig and he has already demonstrated a strong connection with Jackson. The following table examines what the combo has accomplished over the past three seasons in games they played together:
I don’t expect Jackson to maintain that staggering yards-per-reception, which would likely result in less receiving yards. And he may also see a slight dip in targets with the transition from Andy Reid to Chip Kelly. However, he can make up for any loss in receiving totals elsewhere. In a previous article, “What Is LeSean McCoy Worth,” I detailed what we can expect from a Kelly-orchestrated offense. In short, the Eagles should challenge the Patriots in plays-per-game, which will allow for enough opportunities to satiate all of the Eagles’ playmakers. After speaking with Kelly, Jackson elaborated on his potential role in 2013 during an interview leading up to the Super Bowl:
“Kind of similar to what De’Anthony Thomas was doing at Oregon. He’s like a little brother to me. I actually talked to him. He was passing on information to me, like I’m going to be pumped up and psyched to be in that offense. It just keeps defenses off guard any time you go in motion, fake play-action, go down the field. There’s just so many things you can do.”
Jackson has already proven to be multi-dimensional factor in the NFL, tallying four punt return touchdowns and three rushing scores during his career. I don’t believe he will approach the 92 carries that De’Anthony Thomas totaled for Oregon in 2012, but I fully expect him to set career highs as a rusher this upcoming season. Even just 25 carries at his career average of 6.9 yards-per-carry equates to 172.5 yards – that makes for a nice bonus in fantasy football from a wide receiver.
As of today, I currently have Jackson ranked 27th, which is +14 versus Fantasy Pro’s Expert Consensus, and Wallace ranked 28th, which is -8 versus Fantasy Pro’s Expert Consensus. While Wallace will be busy adjusting to his new surroundings, Jackson finds himself glittering with potential in the Philadelphia Eagles’ high-octane offense. That is why in 2013, I’m choosing DeSean Jackson over Mike Wallace by a hair in fantasy football.