In this weekly column, I typically explore some young players who haven’t made much of a consistent impact to date. Some players may be available on your waiver wire, some may be available via a cheap or moderate trade. Acquiring or not acquiring one of these players could decide how well your dynasty or keeper team does for the next few years.
Marcus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Wheaton, in his second year with the Steelers, was the main cog of the 2012 Oregon State offense with his 5′ 11″ and 182 lbs. frame. He spent most of his college career out of the slot a lot while carrying the ball on a few reverses. The wide receiver is very quick/agile and uses good angles to make the most out of his touches. Wheaton can climb the highest point to get to the ball and can catch those worm burners near the ground. Due to injuries in his rookie year, the former Beaver receiver only received 13 targets his rookie year, catching six of them for 64 yards. During the preseason, the chemistry between the second year wide out and Ben Roethlisberger seemed mixed. The game against the Browns was their first test together.
In the first start of his career, Wheaton came up big. He spent most of the game lined up on the single receiver side with single coverage. The wide out tracked the ball well in the air and made good adjustments, always keeping an eye on the sidelines. Wheaton is great at catching the ball in stride and at its highest point out-leaping defenders for the ball. He runs inside patterns with the same zest as easier outside patterns and blocked well at the point of attack. The receiver does not usually go down on first contact, he is always fighting for extra yardage. It was his efforts, the last two catches in the middle of the field, which got the Steelers into position to kick a gaming winning field goal with less than five seconds left.
Hopefully, Wheaton will increase his chemistry with Roethlisberger, as Antonio Brown got shut down during the second half. There was a disconnect between him and Big Ben on a long pass where he got overthrown, but the second year receiver got caught hand fighting with the defensive back. There is no reason to believe that Wheaton won’t put up consistent WR3 production this year that might grow into WR2 numbers by the end of the season.
Khiry Robinson, RB, New Orleans Saints
The second year free agent back out of West Texas A & M certainly flashed last season. With the departure of Darren Sproles, traded to the Eagles, it seems that Robinson will have a bigger role in the Saints running back rotation. How much or little remains to be seen as this is a one game glimpse. The young back can run violently between the tackles, break plays outside, and catches the ball well. He doesn’t have the coaches’ trust like seasoned veteran Pierre Thomas or the pedigree like former first round pick Mark Ingram.
The start to his game against the Falcons was rather ominous with him lining up with Cadet returning the opening kickoff. He did not see a touch until the end of the first quarter. Robinson did make the most of his first carry with a 20+ yard gain where he got open in the middle of the field zig-sagging around defenders. When the back faces a single defender, Robinson can either break the tackle, spin around them, or just wiggle away. The problem is that in the NFL, most of the time a runner will be dealing with multiple defenders. He has good wiggle, uses jump cuts, and the vision to create space slashing through the line. I have a bad feeling that unless injury strikes, he might not get enough opportunities to be fantasy relevant. So keep in rostered in deeper leagues.
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