Who is the team's best fantasy wide receiver: Hines Ward or Mike Wallace?
Sometimes, the safe route is the right choice. Walking to the corner to cross with the light instead of jaywalking across a busy boulevard. Diversifying the family nest egg instead of going all-in on that startup your brother-in-law has touted. Opting for the garden salad instead of the chili cheese fries on a first date.
Go the safe route in fantasy football, though, and maybe you'll get a trip to the playoffs-and a quick exit out of 'em, too. Instead, if you want to go further in the postseason, perhaps even win a championship, it's going to take a move a little bit bolder.
On the surface, there's not much to dislike about Ward, who is coming off a 95-catch, 1,167-yard, six-touchdown season. He's missed only six games in 12 NFL seasons, has six career 1,000-yard pass-catching seasons, and has six or more scoring grabs every year since 2005. He's a big-time player in PPR leagues, too, having averaged 88 receptions per season since becoming a starter in 1999.
But Ward turned 34 in the offseason, and it's hard to muster examples of wideouts whose numbers have improved at that stage of their careers. So we have a ceiling on Ward's numbers - a ceiling in a decent neighborhood, but a ceiling, nonetheless.
The speedy Wallace, on the other hand, brings the big-play capability to the Steelers' passing game that Ward lacks. Although he was No. 3 on the depth chart behind Ward and Santonio Holmes in 2009, Wallace caught 39 passes for 756 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season. His per-catch average of 19.4 yards led all NFL players with at least 30 receptions. Wallace even finished in the top 30 in fantasy points among wideouts on NFL.com.
It's not a given that Wallace will break out in 2010 given that opposing defenses will concentrate on him more. He'll also be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for at least the first four games to start the season. But with Holmes gone, a year of experience under his belt, and neither Antwaan Randle El nor Arnaz Battle a threat to take many targets away, Wallace's 2009 numbers form a nice floor for his value. And without significant disparity between Wallace's floor and Ward's ceiling, Wallace is the choice here.
Bottom line: Ward is a safe pick for decent numbers, which is fine if you're looking for a No. 3 wideout. But Wallace will be the best fantasy wide receiver in Pittsburgh this season.