By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The Philadelphia Eagles sign Mike Wallace to a 1-year deal
2018 Fantasy Outlook: Trade one speedster, sign another one. The Eagles are taking the “next man up” approach into free agency. Earlier this offseason, the Eagles traded WR Torrey Smith to the Carolina Panthers. Smith served as their number two receiver and allowed them to stretch the field while Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Nelson Agholor worked defenses over throughout the season. Smith ended the season with 69 targets leading to 36 receptions for 430 yards and 2 TDs. Smith was effectively the 4th option in the passing game.
Mike Wallace has been the number one receiver for the Baltimore Ravens over the last two seasons. He has 124 receptions for 1,765 yards and 8 TDs while averaging over 14 yards per reception. The only player on the Eagles that averaged 14 yards a reception was rookie WR Mack Hollins and he had only 22 receptions in 2017. It’s no secret that Wallace is an upgrade over the departed Smith. It’s also no secret that Wallace brings a new element into the Eagles offense that wasn’t taken advantage of a year ago. The biggest question on the minds of fantasy owners: who does Wallace take yards and receptions away from?
TE Zach Ertz led the team in receptions and yards. WR Alshon Jeffery led their WRs in yards and TDs and just signed a 4-year extension paying him $13 million a year. Former first round pick Nelson Agholor led the WRs in catches and tied Ertz for second in TDs and is looking for his own extension entering the fourth year of his rookie deal. All three had 95 targets or more. The Eagles also have promising 2nd year WR Hollins and another 2nd year receiver in Shelton Gibson. Is there enough football to go around for everyone?
If I had to guess, and my initial rankings will reflect this and subsequently update as training camp arrives, Ertz will be the guy to lose out the most from this in terms of yards and catches. He’s a dynamic option over the middle but he doesn’t have the breakaway speed that Agholor does to take a 6-yard catch underneath and turn it into a 50-yard TD reception. Jeffery is their number one guy. I firmly believe he hits 1,000 yards this season. Ertz will still be a threat in the red zone, keeping his fantasy value in the top 3 at the TE position. Wallace should approach 600 yards on close to 40 catches with about 4 TDs. That will be his role. He’s going to run most or all of the same routes as Smith. The difference? Wallace won’t drop as many passes as Smith and therefore have a much better yards per reception average.