Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
Only a fraction of fantasy football is played on the computer. These days, I get most of my trade offers via text message.
Here's one that popped into my inbox about a week ago, "You know anyone that would want Tony Gonzalez and Mike Wallace? I'm just looking to upgrade on Wallace and free up a roster spot." He added, "I don't want to just drop Tony G but he's my worst tight end."
If you talk to enough people, you begin to pick up on certain trends. And one I'm noticing more and more is that fantasy owners want nothing to do with Wallace and Gonzalez.
This appeared on my league's message board recently, "I'm shopping Mike Wallace and Tony Gonzalez for a running back if anyone is looking to diversify their roster."
There are a number of things that strike me about that sentence, not the least of which is the use of "diversify" in a message board post (I always thought diversity was an old, old wooden ship used during the Civil War era). One is, how did two owners in two different leagues both end up with Gonzalez and Wallace on their teams? And secondly, why are both so eager to get rid of two of the most trusted names in fantasy?
Even crazier are the rumors that Gonzalez could be traded in real life too.
Well, that's assuming someone actually wants him. Chiefs GM John Dorsey addressed Gonzalez's availability in a radio interview earlier this week.
"It's not a no," he said with Belichickian enthusiasm.
Sounds like the possibility of acquiring Gonzalez is driving him WILD.
Am I missing something? This feels like the Seinfeld episode where George and Kramer try to convince Jerry that his girlfriend's a loser.
It just doesn't add up. Unless ... we consider the possibility that our perception of Wallace and Gonzalez has nothing to do with their individual performances and is tied to a larger, league-wide phenomenon.
Wallace and Gonzo used to be household names. They were big fish in a small pond. The trouble is, these days the pond is getting bigger and bigger by the second.
Think about it. FORTY players are on pace to put up 1,000 yards this season. That's twice as many as we had last season.
Peyton Manning has a realistic chance to become the first 6,000-yard quarterback. Until two years ago, only two players had ever gone over 5,000 yards in a single season.
A tight end, Jimmy Graham, is on pace for 1,900 receiving yards this season.
This is football on steroids (not literally, we hope). Passing and receiving stats are at all-time high levels. That means guys who fit Wallace's makeup, and to a lesser extent Tony G's as well, are practically growing on trees. Hence why you won't find either player among fantasy's top-50 scorers this season (71st for Gonzalez, 160th for Wallace).
The 1,000-yard receiver is no longer the exception. It's the norm.
So does this mean, Gonzalez and Wallace are, dare we say it, expendable?
Yes and no. The trend toward passing has certainly diluted receiving numbers to an extent (like the 1,000-yard plateau) but at the same time, having an important role in a team's offense is still as crucial as ever.
Gonzalez is the check-down man in Atlanta and a sure set of hands near the goal line (106 career TD). Wallace, though he has a tendency to shrink when covered by top-flight defenders, is still the Dolphins' leader in targets this season (44). For better or worse, these are still go-to guys.
And maybe there's a method to the skepticism. Gonzalez got off to an extremely slow start (31 ypg in his first three games) and at age 37, it seemed reasonable to wonder if he had lost a step. The last two weeks have shown that he hasn't (22 grabs, 246 yards, 2 TD) and with Julio Jones out of the picture, Gonzalez should see even more looks from Matt Ryan as the season rolls on.
While Gonzalez seems to have turned the corner (he's now the fifth-highest scorer among tight ends), Wallace's situation in Miami is a bit hazier.
Wallace was a known commodity with Ben Roethlisberger throwing to him in Pittsburgh but with second-year QB Ryan Tannehill delivering the ball in Miami, "wait and see" appears to be the preferred course of action for fantasy owners.
Though the early returns for Wallace haven't been all that encouraging (22 receptions, 281 yards, 1 TD), his chemistry with Tannehill is something that's bound to improve as the season progresses. Wallace's 105-yard outing versus Baltimore in Week 5 could be a sign of more good things to come.
I'm not saying that either player will turn your season around. Wallace especially is still a matchups play until we see more consistency. But I do think the needle is pointing up for both players.
In a big pond with some pretty big fish in it, Gonzalez and Wallace are still better than most.
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