by Ray Kuhn
Risk… If you are talking about Tavon Austin that has to be the first word that comes to mind. In fantasy football you won’t get anywhere by playing incredibly conservative, and it’s worth taking risk (when appropriate) if the ultimate reward is there.
With Austin there is no risk entering 2018. Let’s be careful though, just because there is no risk doesn’t mean that there is all that much in the way of reward either. Through 200 drafts run by the NFFC this off-season Austin checks in with an ADP of 274. So if you believe in him,at that price you can’t pass him up. However, there is an opportunity cost to that roster spot as well, so let’s take a look if Austin is worth a selection over options such as Courtland Sutton or Chase Edmonds:
It seems a little crazy, but the former first round pick (eighth overall) is entering his sixth NFL season. After spending his first five years with the Rams, he now calls Dallas home as they search far and wide for productive wide receivers.
Last season was just a train wreck for Austin, as even though he played in all 16 games he caught 13 passes for 47 yards while carrying the ball 59 times for 270 yards. This was on the heels of a career season, as in 2016 he had 58 receptions for 509 yards to go along with 159 yards on 28 carries. With just four combined career TD, it is clear that based on what we have seen he can’t be counted as a fantasy option.
Before we get any further we have to include the caveat that Austin previously was a weapon in the return game. While he lost the job last season, I would look for Austin to be a factor in those leagues that take return yardage into account. Will the rest of the production be there to sustain his value?
That brings us to the question of whether or not we believe the Cowboys?
It is not a secret that Dallas is lacking options to catch passes from Dak Prescott and targets are up for grabs. Following the draft Stephen Jones speculated that Austin would receive anywhere between 12 and 24 touches per game, which would make him a fantasy factor, but how much worth can we put into that?
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has been vocal about Austin being an active part of Dallas’ offense and that he will get the ball in a variety of situations and from different places in the formation. While he has never really proved to be much of a play maker, the Cowboys are planning to have Austin lined up out wide, and early in training camp that has been the case.
Even if that does continue into the regular season, Austin is going to be more of a value option and you are going to have to rely on him catching 6-8 passes per game.
In his most active season (2015) he averaged 6.5 per game. Quite honestly, regardless of what Dallas is saying, I can’t see it happening. In 2015 ge did have a career high nine touchdowns, but he only gained a combined 907 yards.
While the buzz and the opportunity is there, look elsewhere on draft day. If Austin truly emerges, his value will still be limited to that of a bye week fill in or injury replacement. Rookies like Sutton and Edmonds offer up clear upside that Austin is just not capable of.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: