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Revisiting the Tavon Austin Comparables

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After reading Shawn Siegele’s post the other day it occurred to me that it might be good to revisit the Tavon Austin comparables that I posted last week.  Shawn pointed out some similarities that Austin has to Dexter McCluster, aka Fumble DMC, that were pretty scary.  The interesting thing is that while my list of comps that I generated did not include McCluster in the top 10 guys similar to Austin, Austin does appear as being in the top 10 similar to McCluster.  That might sound stupid but it’s actually not.  McCluster’s mix of rushing/receiving is an outlier among WRs, so his similar set was sparse, which meant that Austin was one of the closest matches.  That’s jus a bit about the methodology of doing similarity scores.

In any case, the utility of comps is always to illustrate the range of possibilities, so my inclination would be to simply add McCluster to my group of comps and make a mental note that Austin could be in store for a McCluster-esque career.  It’s one of the outcomes that’s possible.  But I do still think that there are other outcomes that might be possible.  In my mind the primary downside of a McCluster-esque career is the propensity to fumble, which makes him a low upside, high risk option to give the ball to.  He doesn’t ever take anything to the house (in the NFL), and he often puts the ball on the grass.  I’ve heard people point to McCluster’s small hands (under 8.5 inches) as the reason for his fumbling, and Austin’s hands are a full inch larger, but I honestly have no idea if it’s the hands or some other issue that causes the fumbling.  In any case, I’ve added McCluster’s name to my group of comparables.  I’ve also taken Jeremy Maclin’s name off the list as it does seem like having a player in there that is 25 pounds heavier than Austin doesn’t make that much sense.  Maclin has also displayed an ability to be almost as efficient as a big WR in the red zone.

Also, I should re-iterate that I think that this smaller type of player is overdrafted anyway.  I think NFL teams should probably only draft larger prototypical WRs in the first round and they should look for speed guys in the 3rd and 4th round.  But to the extent that some value in fantasy football always comes from playing time, I’m not going to bet against Austin racking up counting stats if a team decides to give him the ball.  I’ve been critical of the Vikings this week for their never-ending screens to Percy Harvin, even while those screens didn’t produce anything… but those screens were pretty valuable for fantasy football owners.

Name SEAS WT 40 Time SOS G msYDS msTD YPG TDPG YPR RUSHYPG
Tavon Austin-West Virginia 2012 174 4.34 0.63 13 0.30 0.29 99.15 0.92 11.31 49.46
Name SEAS WT 40 Time SOS G msYDS msTD YPG TDPG YPR RUSHYPG
Randall Cobb-Kentucky 2010 191 4.46 -0.4 13 0.29 0.27 78.23 0.54 12.11 32.62
Percy Harvin-Florida 2008 192 4.39 0.96 12 0.25 0.24 53.67 0.58 16.1 55.00
Desean Jackson-California 2007 169 4.35 1.13 12 0.27 0.30 63.50 0.5 11.72 11.00
Santana Moss-Miami (FL) 2000 181 4.31 0.86 10 0.28 0.20 74.10 0.5 16.84 20.10
Dexter McCluster-Mississippi 2009 172 4.53 0.14 12 0.20 0.17 43.33 0.25 11.82 97.42

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