Over the past few articles on sleeper players, I’ve insisted that Martavis Bryant will have a solid follow-up performance to his impressive rookie season, and even predicted that he may be the “steal of the season.” With that being said, I was a bit surprised with QB Roethlisberger’s comments a few days ago, and his beliefs that another young receiver, Markus Wheaton out of Oregon State, would be the Steelers’ “breakout player of the year.”
So what exactly does that mean? Historically, with two rings and eleven seasons under his belt, Roethlisberger does have the expertise and authority to predict the next rising phenom; after all, he does control the offense. Let’s also not forget his predictions two years ago, stating that Heath Miller would be Pro-bowl worthy in the 2012 season. That season Miller saw a career-high 101 targets and 816 yards as well as another Pro Bowl appearance before his subsequent ACL and MCL tears, cutting his season short.
The stats also support Roethlisberger’s claims, as the Steelers project to be, at the least, a top-5 offense in the upcoming season. Not only is Roethlisberger coming back from career highs in completion percentage, passing yards, and passing TDs (tied with 2007), but the consensus fantasy #1 pick, LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown are back to improve their historic numbers from last year. Combine that with the up-and-coming Wheaton and Bryant, and it’s obvious that the Steelers have quite the potent offense.
The question remains, then, on which young receiver to draft for the upcoming season—Bryant or Wheaton? I still stand by my earlier words that Bryant will have a great sophomore season with his hands and attractiveness as a red zone target. But Wheaton could also be due for a successful campaign, too. Though I would still take Martavis Bryant rounds before Wheaton, any feature of the Steelers’ dangerous offense is a solid and safe fantasy pick.