Michael Fabiano | Tags: Antwaan Randle El, Arnaz Battle, Ben Roethlisberger, Braylon Edwards, Hines Ward, Jerricho Cotchery, Limas Sweed, Mark Sanchez, Mike Wallace, rashard mendenhall, Santonio Holmes
The New York Jets’ acquisition of Santonio Holmes from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a fifth-round pick in this month’s draft has created a ripple effect in fantasy circles at the wide receiver position.
Holmes, who posted career bests in receptions (79) and yards (1,248) last season, moves from what became a pass-laden Steelers offense to a run-heavy attack in New York. He also downgrades at quarterback from Ben Roethlisberger to Mark Sanchez, and has more competition for targets in the form of Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery.
Holmes is also facing a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, so he has no chance to duplicate his 2009 numbers. In fact, Holmes is guaranteed to see a significant decrease in statistical success.
Take this into consideration.
Holmes averaged 78 yards per game for the Steelers last season. If we project that number over 12 games, he’d finish the 2010 campaign with just 936 yards. Based on the aforementioned factors, I’d argue that Holmes, now more of a No. 3 fantasy option, will struggle to post even 900 receiving yards next season.
The same holds true of Edwards and Cotchery, who will both see fewer chances to produce once Holmes is back on the field. Neither should be seen as more than a No. 4 fantasy wideout on draft day. On a positive note, the presence of Holmes does make Sanchez a more attractive No. 2 fantasy quarterback.
In Pittsburgh, the loss of Holmes is going to hurt the value of Roethlisberger.
The veteran quarterback, who’s had his share of offseason issues, no longer has the sort of weapons in the pass attack to duplicate his impressive 2009 totals. I’d even argue that the Steelers could move towards a more balanced offensive attack (they ran the ball only 42.2 percent of the time last season). This potential change in offensive philosophies is a sentiment that team president Art Rooney II stated back in January.
“We have to get back to being able to run the football when we need to run the football, and being able to run more consistently than we have in the past season,” Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Such a move would make Big Ben more of a low-end No. 1 fantasy option while increasing the value of Rashard Mendenhall, who I have ranked eighth among running backs on my board.
Another player who will see an increase in value is Mike Wallace.
The talented wideout showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie, finishing 28th in fantasy points at his position. If the Steelers didn’t think he could replace Holmes, I’m not sure they would have ever dealt Holmes for what amounts to pennies on the dollar.
As it stands, Wallace is now a viable No. 2 fantasy receiver and a better option than any one of the Jets receivers (even Holmes, due to his pending suspension). Where the Steelers’ pass attack loses some of its luster is behind Hines Ward and Wallace.
The third spot on the depth chart figures to be a competition between Antwaan Randle El, Arnaz Battle and Limas Sweed, none of whom can make the same sort of impact as Wallace did in the same role last season.