Player Round Table (Miles Austin)
By FBG Staff; Hosted by Maurile Tremblay
August 11th, 2010

Here at Footballguys.com, we have Spotlights and Faceoffs. Those features are fairly comprehensive, but they are limited to viewpoints from either one or two writers. Well some players need a little more commentary. We have decided open up the dialog and asked our staff to leave their thoughts on these players and what is expected from them in 2010. Here, discussion centers around WR Miles Austin.

Mark Wimer: I expect Miles Austin's production to slip back toward the field of WRs during 2010 as a couple of unusual factors fed his outstanding 2009 campaign. Jason Witten had an unusually low number of TD catches last year (just two, vs. 11 TDs for Austin), and in addition Roy Williams was such a flop as the #2 receiver that Austin got the lion's share of red-zone looks among the WRs. With Dez Bryant in town now, Austin's numbers should become more in line with other outstanding, but not elite, fantasy receivers. Thus, he is substantially lower on my WR board and overall board than others who may be projecting a season closer to his 2009 showing.

Another reason to be wary of Austin's lofty ADP is his lack of sustained track record. If I'm going to burn a first-round pick on a WR, I want it to be someone like Larry Fitzgerald or Reggie Wayne - proven contenders for top-five status with multiple years among the top 10 receivers under their belts. I'll let others roll the dice on Austin this season.

Sigmund Bloom: Austin put up elite numbers last year despite not being the starter until the fourth game of the season, and having a dry stretch during the second half of the season when he had to adjust to the coverage a #1 receiver attracts.

Only three of Austin's 11 TDs came in the red zone; if anything, he has room to improve there.

His year-end target numbers are deflated, once again, because he barely saw the field at the beginning of the season.

The addition of Dez Bryant may siphon a few targets away, but the attention he'll draw from defenses should only help Austin.

The fact that Austin did what he did in his first year as a starter can be cited as a reason to expect improvement instead of a decline. What about his play last year would lead you believe it was a fluke?

Austin is as good as he looked, as good as his numbers looked last year. He's a worthy WR1 choice in the second round. There's no reason to over-think this - Dallas's offense will be a juggernaut, and Austin is QB Tony Romo's favorite target. Between Austin's size, speed, and strength, there's no reason to think that he can't stay at the very lofty levels he achieved last year, if not build from them.

Mark Wimer: When Jason Witten scores two TDs, and Miles Austin hauls in 11, yet they both enjoy 124 targets, something is anomalous about the Cowboy's situation. With very weak play from Roy Williams, Witten drew a lot of attention from opposing defenses last year. Did Austin capitalize on the opportunities that afforded him? Yes. Is it likely to be repeated in 2010? I think it's not.

If the Cowboys were pleased with their 2009 stable of WRs, why add Dez Bryant with their first-round pick? I suggest they knew they needed to upgrade the talent behind Austin. With a new, talented target in the fold, there is bound to be more balls going to the #2 WR, Bryant, which limits the number of additional targets that Austin is likely to see. I simply don't think that Austin will draw double-digit targets as frequently as he did during his blistering run from weeks 12-17 (11, 12, 8, 13, 10, 8), and to project such a pace over the entire 2010 season is overly optimistic in my opinion.

I'm not doubting Austin's talents, but I think he blew up late last season largely due Romo's total loss of confidence in Roy Williams, and also the resulting coverages that Witten faced. This is the very situation that the Cowboys addressed with their selection of Dez Bryant in the draft.

Austin could finish in the top five at his position, but as of now I think he is rather more likely to under-perform his current ADP, so I'm passing on him during 2010.

Maurile Tremblay: Of course Austin won't average 103 receiving yards and 0.83 touchdowns per game again, like he did in weeks 5-17 last year.

But neither will anybody else in the league, so that's not a reason to pass on Austin for someone else.

Austin is flat out good. He gets open, he makes the catch, and he is terrific with the ball in his hands. In terms of talent, he is a top ten WR in the NFL. But his fantasy prospects are even better than that because he's in a great situation with Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Dallas will move the ball and put points on the board. Austin can't be double-teamed, because Witten (and maybe Bryant) will keep defenses honest.

As someone who wouldn't mind having Austin on my fantasy teams this year, I wish his ADP weren't so high. I wish he were available for more of a bargain. Still, though, even at WR6 I'd be happy to have him.

Jeff Pasquino: Miles Austin burst onto the scene last year and put up huge numbers, but the question is whether he can be the Cowboys' go-to WR for an entire year. With the addition of Dez Bryant, and with Jason Witten a fixture at tight end, there will be some competition for targets. The RB duo of Felix Jones and Marion Barber will also be competing for touches. I would be rather hesitant in drafting Austin as a WR1.

Jeff Haseley: I tend to agree with Pasquino on this one. I like Austin's skills and talent, but I think Dez Bryant will be used more than people think, and will be productive right off the bat. Defenses will be keying on Austin, and Bryant will be the one burning them. It's possible that Tony Romo could have a career year and the end result would be successful seasons from Austin, Bryant and Witten. But with the increased talent on the roster, Austin won't live up to last year's statistics.

© 2010 Footballguys - All Rights Reserved