As a first-round selection by the St. Louis Rams last season, WR Tavon Austin had lofty goals set upon him. Claims of Offensive Rookie of the Year were thrown about, ultimately setting him up for failure. I, for one, did not read into the hype and stayed away from him, and my concerns seemed to be right. But all of a sudden during a Week 10 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, Austin flashed the signs of greatness that people expected the entire season from him—a glimmer of hope.
In that game, he posted 31 points. That total almost matched his total up to that point, of 34 points. Of course, he was unable to reach that standard the rest of the season, but in his last six games (including the Colts game), he posted a respectable 58 fantasy points. Compared to his first seven games, he improved by over 200 percent. That’s quite the turnaround. Had he not been injured in Week 13, he would have been on pace for a 110-point season (placing him in the Top 30 WRs).
That’s what’s getting some people excited about his prospects this season—as well as the potential Austin’s QB Sam Bradford has this season. Like Vincent Jackson—to a lesser extent—Austin should be in store for a productive season total, but not on a consistent basis. He’s a threat in whatever form he touches the ball: receiving, rushing, or returning. But it’s that versatility that makes him a liability in games just as much as he is an asset.
He won’t be returning a touchdown every game (and that’s what contributed to his 31 points in the Indy game). You won’t be able to rely on those six points on a consistent basis, and are primarily what create an influx in his average points total. Along with the inconsistent variable of return TDs, Austin just doesn’t show up as the same player each game. He only had four games in which he topped 40 total yards from scrimmage, and three occasions in which he scored a touchdown.
At his best, Austin is a great threat surrounded by an improved Rams team that will give the matured second-year receiver—capable of posting 20 points for your team. But more often than not, he’s going to misfire and miss his projected points for the week. I really like his potential, but even picking him as a backup is risky because you don’t know when he’ll be worth any value to you—unless you can find a trade partner that sees more potential in him.