The plaintiff, Tavon Austin, has requested a court order concerning his average draft position among the dynasty community. Currently he is being drafted as the 81st overall player or 7.09 draft pick among the likes of Chris Johnson, Kyle Rudolph, Wes Welker, and only 11 players ahead of Joique Bell — Come’on Man! There is a perception he underwhelmed as a rookie, and that turned out to be completely false. Not only was his rookie year comparable to his rookie peers but also very similar to some of the second tier wide receivers in today’s game.
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The 2013 8th overall draft pick will enter his 2nd year with the Rams at the age of 23. Due to an ankle injury, Austin was sidelined the final three weeks of the season but still managed to finish the fantasy season with 133.0 PPR points (averaging 10.2 points a week.)
Austin’s production was attained in the NFL’s 30th ranked offense with 4877 total yards, they were the 27th ranked passing offense with 3125 yards. The breakdown looks as follows:
Week 6 – Sam Bradford finished with 117 total passing yards. As a result, Austin only accounted for 1.30 fantasy points. As we are all aware Bradford went on to tear his ACL in week 7, and in comes Kellen Clemens.
Week 8 – Kellen Clemens threw for 210 yards and 1 touchdown. In relation, Austin finished with a season low 0.60 points. The “dumpster fire” also known as the Rams offense (aside from Zac Stacy) played 9 games vs the leagues top 7 defenses and 7 of those games without their starting quarterback. 2013 was a year when the words passing and Rams made you cringe (Ask Jared Cook owners).
De’Andre Hopkins is currently being drafted as the 56th overall player (5.08), and Cordarrelle Patterson is topping the charts as a fringe second round start-up pick with an ADP of 25th overall(3.01- ADP data courtesy of Dynastyfootballwarehouse.com). These 2 and Austin were the consensus top wide receivers among rookie drafts in 2013. They are not close anymore; what went wrong? Below is a stat table of 2013 focusing on Patterson, Hopkins, and Austin.
It’s very interesting how Austin out-produced Hopkins, yet there is a clear separation in ADP. Even more troubling for me is how close he was to Patterson, and again there is a gigantic separation. The more digging I did the more confused I was as the Texans offense ranked 15th in passing yards (Rams 27th). Patterson accounted for 11.3% of the Vikings total offense. Austin, on the other hand, ONLY accounted for 11.6% of the Rams offense. Still not convinced? Good – there is more!
Role back the clock to a year ago from today and rekindle the stellar performance of TY Hilton and Kendall Wright. Hilton had an ADP of 57th (5.09) while Wright was 69th (6.09), still higher then where Austin is today. They must have had a better rookie campaign then, right? At the end of 14 weeks (Austin missed weeks 15-17), Hilton finished with 143.9 points and Wright finished with 138.9 PPR points. I’ll reiterate that Austin finished with 133.0 (I highlighted Hilton and Wright because of the similarities in body type).
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If those numbers weren’t staggering enough then let’s take a look at a different source of compiled ADP data (Dynastyleaguefootball.com). As of February 2014, Patterson comes in at 18.3, Hopkins at 29.3, Hilton at 40.2, and Wright at 50.5. Drum role please…Austin at 75.7 (I should just end this on that note). Here is a visual of the difference in value from Hopkins to Austin when comparing them vs rookie draft picks (Created by DLF’s own Jeff Miller/@FFJeffM).
Now that I’ve bored you with nothing but numbers we shall dig into some cut-ups and see the true reason why I think Austin is a special talent and player. Below are four clips of him executing three different positions: wide receiver, running back, and return specialist. I’ll use this as an argument for the owners worried about the lack of creativity in offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense. The following plays aren’t creative or rare opportunities scripted for Austin, though they should be in every playbook.
Here you’ll see Austin lined up in the slot facing man coverage. He explodes into his break, causing the defender to jump the route, and at this point Austin has already won. The play is finished with Austin breaking up-field and torching the turned around defender for an easy touchdown. Yes, it was a middle linebacker, but I believe that if that is a nickel defensive back he is on his toes just the same. This is the kind of mismatch Austin represents.
This clip has Austin lined up as a running back in the pistol formation. This play shows me the elite initial quickness he possesses. Austin should have been met in the hole and tackled for a minimal gain, but because of his initial quickness the defenders completely misjudge him. At the second level he shows the ability to “get small” in between his blocker and two defenders, he shakes off the contact, not losing speed, and throws in a stutter-step in which he bounces outside for an extra 20 yards.
Clip three tells the whole story. Austin’s lateral ability and stop start ability will leave a defender with broken ankles and shoeless. A pistol formation with a simple stretch play is not very creative.
In this last clip Austin shows his extraordinary vision as a return specialist, it seems he has the ability to predict the defenders point of attack. With only 10 yards to work with from the sideline he picks and pokes his way through only to explode out the other side, seemingly untouched. The commentating is an added bonus if you’re a wrestling fan to which I am not anymore (was a child).
The biggest worry, knock, or complaint I have heard has been his size: Yes the prototypical wide receiver is your 6’4 240lb 4.50 “workout worrier” while the 5’8 180 lb 4.32 wide receivers are often considered cast-offs. I sense DeSean Jackson began to change that popular opinion this year. I expect Austin, Sammy Watkins (to a lesser degree), Odell Beckham Jr., and Brandin Cooks to help shake this stereotype next year and moving forward.
So the dynasty community says, “Well what about the ankle injury that caused him to miss weeks 15-17, is that a sign of things to come”: I say to that-
2009: 13 games played
2010: 13 games played
2011: 13 games played
2012: 13 games played, and finally:
2013: 14 of 17 games played.
I’m not very good at math, but that equals 3 games missed from his entire college and pro career.
Passive offensive coordinator
See the “Film Junkie” section. Aside from Austin’s big play ability, play caller Brian Schottenheimer might just be on his final leg this upcoming season. If he fails to improve upon the 30th ranked offense, I could see major changes coming to Jeff Fisher’s staff.
I had a hard time acquiring legitimate reasons why the community was so down on Austin after only one similarly stellar season.
You, as the dynasty community, shall determine a verdict.