Fantasy Football: Chalk Talk Thursday with Markus Wheaton

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Former Oregon State wide receiver Markus Wheaton, now starting wide receiver for the  Pittsburgh Steelers is week 1’s Chalk Talk Thursday player spotlight.

Finally Week 1 has come and gone; as usual unexpected performances across the landscape, good, bad, and ugly. As dynasty owners it’s an important part of the season, digging through the coal mine and finding that golden ticket. Meanwhile the Steelers and Ravens are playing tonight and you must be back in the redraft mindset with your sit and start decisions. Ah the life of a dynasty owner.

Film Breakdown

Wheaton caught 6 passes for 97 yards on 7 targets against the Browns on Sunday. Catching an impressive 85% of targets while making up 26.5% of the Steelers air attack. Wheaton had 2 clutch catches late in the fourth quarter on the game winning drive, building chemistry and earning the trust of Ben Roethlisberger. Lets take a look at Wheaton’s performance from this past Sunday.

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Here you see the Steelers lined up with 11 personnel with Wheaton lined up as the flanker(Z) and Antonio Brown lined up as the split end wide receiver. Wheaton runs a 9 route, facing man to man coverage against the defensive back.

Wheaton1aWheaton doesn’t create a significant amount of separation but this is a 9 route and separation is only generated by speed and limited techniques. As Wheaton gets to the top of his route he fights the defender off by using his arm to “push off”. Technically this is illegal but good wide receivers get away with it multiple times a game, gaining just enough separation from the defensive back.

Wheaton2Wheaton3

A good yard or two of separation is created by using his arm. Wheaton shows the ability to track the ball over his shoulder and see the football come into his arms while showing great awareness of where his feet and the sideline are. In fact he had an inch or two to spare from the sideline. Great catch and throw displayed here.

 

Wheaton4

Wheaton is lined up as the Z wide receiver at the bottom of the screen in 11 personnel, notice this 11 personnel is a little different than the above mention. The tight end is split out one or two yards off the left tackle and lined up as a wide receiver. Brown is once again the X wide receiver and the defense is playing press man to man coverage.

 

 

 

 

Wheaton5Wheaton6Wheaton is called upon to run a slant route, the defensive back is once again in man to man press coverage. Wheaton is lined up 2 yards off the line of scrimmage, which gives him the space and  distance to avoid a jam from the defensive back. A slant route is a timing route, a jam is a defensive technique used to disrupt the timing between the quarterback and wide receiver. Wheaton’s quickness in his first step gets the defensive back off balance, he then follows that up with a swim move, giving him plenty of separation.

Wheaton7Wheaton8Roethlisberger sees the separation and connects with Wheaton for an easy 7 yard gain.

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Wheaton11Wheaton12

 

The Steelers are lined up in 11 personnel with a bunch formation on the strong side. Wheaton is lined up as the flanker once again. The defense looks to be in zone scheme, playing off coverage. Wheaton is expected to run a 7 yard out route, with zero interruption from the defensive back, he is successful. Pointing out the bottom left image, when Wheaton makes that break I would like to see him sink his hips and create more torque to make this out route more crisp rather than fluid. Roethlisberger steps up in the pocket and slings the football toward Wheaton. The football sails on Roethlisberger, yet Wheaton shows ability to climb the ladder and pluck the football. The first down marker is at 8 yards, Wheaton ran the route 7 yards.

Parting Thoughts

Wheaton was ranked as the consensus wide receiver 44 by our own FakePigSkin dynasty staff, that is equivalent to my personal rankings as well. Having a strong grasp on the wide receiver 2 job starting along side Brown, I expect his value to only increase from here on out. Which is great news for those owners who invested in him as a rookie! I drafted him with the 1.11 in a 2013 rookie draft. Many fantasy experts feel Wheaton will lose redzone opportunities to Martavis Bryant , Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell. My personal evaluation is that Wheaton will likely be a volume guy with the potential for big plays scattered throughout games.

–Eric/@FFPrimeTime

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