Many people believe that Tavon Austin’s NFL career has been a huge failure. The former seventh overall pick has largely underwhelmed in his first two seasons, producing only 1,035 yards and seven total TDs. He failed to register a receiving touchdown last year, and only had 242 receiving yards. At 5-8, 176 pounds, the odds have always been stacked against Austin. Many believed he was too short and too light to justify such a high pick, and that at his size he would need “manufactured touches” to get him the ball. To this point these people have been correct. But, everything seemed to change for Austin once Todd Gurley got going for the Rams.
Week 5 against the Arizona Cardinals will forever be known as Gurley’s coming out party. One could easily argue that he has been the best running back in the league from that point on. Gurley’s success has lifted the Rams offense to new heights. The addition of Gurley, coupled with that of Nick Foles and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, has significantly impacted Tavon Austin. Take a look at Austin’s numbers with and without Gurley:
While the sample size is small, the difference is huge. Gurley creates more room for the offense to operate and get the ball in the hands of their other playmakers, such as Austin. This year, Austin has seen a 9 percent increase in targets vs. the last two seasons (from 12 to 21 percent market share). He has also been more efficient with these targets, as his Receiving Fantasy Points Over Expectation Per Target (REFPOEPT) of 0.5 is a huge increase over the previous two seasons (0.02). Austin has also increased his efficiency in the running game. He has been the most efficient runner in the league with at least 15 carries.
So Austin’s production this year has been nice, and he’s still relatively cheap. This alone should be enough incentive for you to look to acquire him. But looking ahead, his schedule should have you rushing to go get him as soon as possible. Let’s use the Buy Low Machine to look at the Rams’ schedule the rest of the season.
Look at all the green on that schedule! The Rams’ have the second easiest schedule for receivers for the rest of the season, and the easiest if you don’t play in week 17. It’s time to realize that this is the perfect storm for Tavon Austin. His talent is being maximized, he’s getting plenty of touches to use that talent, and being given more room to operate than ever before in his NFL career. Oh, and that amazing schedule. Go get Austin in all of your leagues, as he should a great flex option with high end WR2 upside for the rest of the year.