Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace were a match made in heaven. Big Ben sporting a big, accurate arm and an uncanny ability to extend plays in the pocket; Wallace getting open down field, especially after a play breaks down. Wallace has certainly missed Roethlisberger (0 of 3 seasons over 1,000 yards, only 1 of 3 seasons with more than 5 touchdowns), but with the emergence of Antonio Brown and other complementary weapons (Emmanuel Sanders in 2013 and Martavis Bryant in 2014 and 2015) he’s more than made due without him. The offseason suspension to Martavis Bryant changed all of that though. There’s a void in the passing game that Roethlisberger has been looking to fill. After Week 4, it appears as though he has found his guy in Sammie Coates.
Coates came out of Auburn with a gaudy highlight reel, but frustrating output. His entire collegiate career he looked like a NFL starting caliber wide receiver…until he had to catch the ball. He was often criticized for his route running and effort, but ultimately all of his issues came down to one central problem; focus. It’s not a problem that you can project to be fixed, but if it is fixed? All of the ability in the world is there for him to be an asset, and he’s starting to take advantage.
Inconsistency reared its ugly head in the preseason as in-game mistakes led to him falling to 4th on the depth chart behind Eli Rogers and Markus Wheaton. However, there were still positive reports coming out of camp about his play and preparation; it just hadn’t translated to the field. Despite Markus Wheaton missing the first two games of the season, the Steelers were patient with Coates, managing his workload early on as he only accumulated 12 total targets over the season’s first 3 weeks. That began to change against the Chiefs Sunday night. Coates saw the second most snaps among Steelers wide receivers (behind Brown, obviously) and his targets increased to 8. Furthermore, he caught 75% of those passes, turned in almost 10 yards per target, and caught a 40+ yard pass for the 4th consecutive week.
The breakout is coming. Ownership percentage is starting to reflect others seeing the same (6% increase in ESPN leagues), but he’s still sitting at just 17.6% total ownership percentage. The inconsistent Sammie Coates could re-emerge and infuriate you until you inevitably pull the plug, but this is the sort of midseason stock you buy into that could be what your team needs to make a run at the playoffs. Add now, ask questions later.