As far as Fantasy Football is concerned, the St. Louis Rams have been next to irrelevant aside from now Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson in recent years. There is at least one player in town now that figures to change that perception: Tavon Austin.
The former West Virginia Mr. Everything has been taking on a similar role with the Rams this offseason. Several reports have said that there is no limit to just how the team will utilize Austin’s talents in the upcoming season. On NFL 32, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen recently said that the team wasn’t sure if Austin had let the ball hit the ground “all offseason.”
There was no secret that general manager Les Snead had a fascination with Austin leading up to the draft, and that came to a head when the team traded up to snag the WVU product. After moving up to snag the coveted playmaker, the Rams figure to utilize him in a number of different ways as head coach Jeff Fisher has indicated throughout the offseason.
Many scouting reports compared Austin to former Minnesota Viking, now Seattle Seahawk Percy Harvin in terms of raw ability. Austin is certainly smaller than Harvin at just 5’8” 174lbs., but his on-field impact could be just as large. His role figures to mirror that of Harvin and Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb by lining up wide, in the slot, in the backfield, and of course returning punts.
Sam Bradford has been limited in terms of his weaponry during his first three NFL seasons, but this year looks like the perfect opportunity for him to break out and establish himself as an upper echelon quarterback. Austin will play a big role in Bradford’s increased success this coming season as his ability to rack up yards after the catch will have Rams quickly forgetting about former receiver Danny Amendola.
In terms of fantasy value, it’s hard to find a player as valuable as Austin anywhere really. When Harvin was healthy last season for the first nine games of the season, he compiled 62 catches for 677 yards and three receiving touchdowns to go along with 22 rushing attempts for 96 yards with a touchdown as well as a kickoff return for a score.
From the sound of the optimism coming out of the Rams organization regarding Austin, those numbers seem very possible for the rookie early on in his career with St. Louis. There really isn’t one part of the game where he can’t make an immediate impact for the team, and that’s scary to think about if you are in the NFC West and face the Rams twice a year.