Rotoprofessor Pop Quiz: Do Fantasy Owners Have Legitimate Concerns With Miles Austin?
Written by Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com
Image courtesy of Icon SMI
Miles Austin may have opened the 2009 season third on the Cowboys depth chart, but he finished among the elite receivers in the game. The real question is, can he repeat his success or is he a threat for a major regression?
Before we can talk about the future, let’s look at the past. Austin didn’t start the Cowboys’ first four games, picking up just five catches for 81 yards. In fact, in Week 3, he failed to catch a pass against the Carolina Panthers.
When Roy Williams suffered an injury, Williams slid into the lineup against the Chiefs on October 11 and never really looked back. He exploded for 10 catches, 250 yards and 2 TD. He followed that up two weeks later against the Falcons, catching six passes for 171 yards and 2 TD.
He finished with 81 catches for 1,320 yards and 11 TD. Among the successes:
- The yards were third in the NFL (first in the NFC)
- He was tied for fourth in TD among receivers, behind the leaders with 13 (Vernon Davis, Larry Fitzgerald & Randy Moss)
- He was second in the league in receptions of 20 or more yards with 21 (Andre Johnson had 22)
- He was third in the league in receptions of 40 or more yards with 8 (DeSean Jackson led the league with 10)
No matter how you cut it, it was a magical season after providing very little over his first three seasons (a total of 18 catches for 354 yards). There had been rumors of him flirting with the Jets prior to the 2009 season, but nothing ever came of it and he ultimately returned to Dallas.
It certainly seemed to be the right decision, as he has developed a tremendous rapport with QB Tony Romo. The two have the chance to be one of the elite duos in the league, however let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
The Cowboys main weakness could potentially be their offensive line, which needs to hold up to allow Romo to continue to get the ball down the field. First off, Flozell Adams is no longer with the team, replaced by Doug Free who had appeared in just one game (in 2007) prior to last year. At 26-years old, he’s the young pup of the line.
The other members of the line are:
- Kyle Kosier – 31
- Andre Gurode – 32
- Leonard Davis – 31
- Marc Columbo – 31
In fact, Columbo is already on the sidelines due to knee surgery, and health concerns could be a huge question for this group moving forward. Is it a reason to downgrade Austin down your draft board? Absolutely not, but it’s worth noting given their age.
Another factor is the presence of Dez Bryant, the team’s 2010 first round draft pick. Last season Austin only competed with Jason Witten (94 receptions, 1,030 yards and 2 TD) for the ball. In fact, they are the only two receivers to amass as many as 40 catches last year.
That’s something that could easily change. Of course, Bryant has missed time with a high ankle sprain and is only now getting back onto the field. Has the time he missed cost him a real chance to develop a feel with Romo?
Bryant is still likely to be a factor, as is Roy Williams, to an extent, but it’s not enough to downgrade Austin. The offensive line is a worry, but we’re not about to sit here and say that it is not going to hold up for another year.
Austin showed last season just how explosive he can be when given the opportunity, and there’s no reason to think that he can’t match those numbers in 2010. He’s currently the sixth wide receiver being drafted (according to Mock Draft Central), which is the same spot he holds on our current rankings (click here to view).
The bottom line is, if he’s available from the middle of the second round and on, he is a great selection as your #1 WR.
What are your thoughts on Austin? Can he repeat last year’s success or do you have concerns? Personally I am on board with Austin as my #4 fantasy WR (click to see my 2010 WR rankings).
Make sure to check out Rotoprofessor’s 2010 rankings: