By Jim Saranteas. With the news Steelers Wide Receiver Martavis Bryant was suspended one-year for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, the door opens for the Steelers Markus Wheaton, who stands to benefit most in Bryant’s absence.
Last season, when Martavis Bryant was serving a four game suspension to start the 2016 season, Markus Wheaton struggled to make a major impact in the offense. In five games, Wheaton hauled in 9 receptions for 228 yards and 1 TD. Put another way, for fantasy purposes, Wheaton was a disappointment with just one “Quality Fantasy Game” to his credit — his so-called QFR rating was 0.20 — in those five games. He looked like a player who had failed to take advantage of the opportunity in front of him.
However, coming out of the bye week, Markus Wheaton went from a player averaging just 1.8 receptions per game to a player averaging 4.7 receptions per game. This translated to 476 yards and 4 TDs in six games. Despite most of his yardage coming in just one game (201 yards) in Week 12, his QFR rating increased to 0.50, a much more palatable number for fantasy football purposes. Averaging a score in two of every three games helped.
Certainly, if the trend in the last six games of the season continues (this is the hope) into the 2016 season, the Steelers Markus Wheaton would be an every week starter in fantasy football as a WR2/3. Wheaton will likely be a value pick in the eighth or ninth round of many fantasy drafts.
As we head into training camps, it will be important to monitor the progression of second year wide receiver Sammie Coates, and the use of journeyman Darrius Heyward-Bey. While the Steelers Markus Wheaton should remain the second option behind Antonio Brown, one would be remiss not to give due diligence its due. Wheaton will go into the 2016 season with fantasy football upside.
Steelers Markus Wheaton