With the NFL Regular Season fast approaching, many of you are getting ready to draft your fantasy football teams (if you haven’t already). I don’t know about you, but I often want to draft one of our Mountaineers at some point. Call it blatant homerism if you want to, but you know some of you have wanted to pull that trigger before as well.
With that in mind, I went through the Mountaineers who could contribute to your fantasy team and projected their stats for the season. Now you can decide which one(s) you might want to stash on your team.
Tavon Austin WR – St. Louis Rams
Watching Austin in the Rams’ vanilla offense the past two years has been as frustrating as trying to clap with one hand. Austin took a step back stat-wise in 2014 compared to his rookie season mainly because the Rams simply failed to get him the football. An MCL sprain suffered in week two in 2014 did slow him somewhat. The Rams offense seemed to have no identity and the quarterback position was unstable at best all year without Sam Bradford. New offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti has been pleasantly pleased with Austin throughout training camp.
Look for Austin to begin to live up to expectations and have a bounce back year. Austin will likely be off most fantasy owner’s radars come draft time and could be a late round steal. Austin has the potential to contribute not only in the passing game but on the ground and on punt returns. Take a flyer on Austin in the later rounds of your draft.
PROJECTED STATS – 60 receptions, 655 yards 6 TDs/55 carries, 580 yards, 3 TDS.
Stedman Bailey WR – St. Louis Rams
When both Bailey and Tavon Austin were drafted by the Rams in 2013 West Virginia fans thought they it could be déjà vu all over again in St. Louis as far as Bailey and Austin dominating defenses. That has not been the case through two seasons as both players seem are trying to find their fit in the NFL. Bailey has steadily improved in his first two seasons. In 2014 he came back from a two-game suspension to make 30 catches for 435 yards and a score. Bailey has had his strongest training camp yet as a pro and should improve on his 2014 numbers. Bailey could be a nice late round fantasy pick or a key early season acquisition if he starts the season hot.
PROJECTED STATS – 52 receptions, 624 yards 4 TDS/ 4 carries 25 yards 1 TD.
Charles Sims RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sims missed the first 9 weeks of his rookie campaign after having ankle surgery. Sims came on late and was a nice contributor late in the season for the Bucs. Heading into 2015 Sims is bogged down in what looks to a running back by committee scenario in Tampa. Sims could be worth a late round pick because of his ability to catch passes out of the back field. If Doug Martin should go down Sims should be picked up immediately in all Fantasy formats.
PROJECTED STATS – 170 carries 595 yards 4 TDS/45 receptions 456 yards 2 TDs.
Geno Smith QB – New York Jets
By now we are all familiar with the punch heard around the NFL. During training camp Smith suffered a broken jaw at the hands of his own teammate. As a result Smith’s future with the Jets is now as shaky as the PRT running on schedule in February. If new Jets’ starter Ryan Fitzpatrick gets off to a nice start you won’t see Smith take the helm for the Jets again . . . ever. If Fitzpatrick is struggling come week 5 you might see Geno Smith inserted as the starter once again. The only reason to draft Smith would be to see the shocked and confused look on your fellow owner’s faces.
PROJECTED STATS – Check back in Week 5, but a conservative estimate is 275 milkshakes.
(Editor’s Note – The writer of this article is a long-time, bitter fan of the Jets, so you can understand his sarcasm.)
Mario Alford WR – Cincinnati Bengals
Alford’s speed is unquestionable and although he was drafted in the 7th round it looks like Alford will make the Bengals’ roster. Alford has huge upside but at this time will be a fourth receiver at best. Alford did have running plays that appeared specially designed for him the Bengals first two preseason games. Alford might make some noise in the return game but shouldn’t be considered as a Fantasy option on draft day. If the Bengals get hit with the injury bug Alford could be worth picking up.
PROJECTED STATS – 20 receptions 225 yards/4 carries 60 yards 1 TD.
White had surgery to have a rod inserted into his lower leg to repair a stress fracture. The seventh overall pick in this year’s draft is in danger of missing the entire season. White was placed on the PUP list and could only miss the Bears’ first six games, but with the level of caution the Bears have shown with White’s injury thus far, it seems more likely they will shut him down for the year. Before the shin injury White would have been a solid third or fourth round Fantasy selection at wide receiver.
PROJECTED STATS – TBD
Dreamius Smith RB – San Diego Chargers
Smith survived the first round of cuts in San Diego and has shown some explosiveness when given the ball in preseason. If Smith makes San Diego’s squad he will buried on the depth chart. Barring injury Smith at this time can be ignored in all Fantasy formats.
PROJECTED STATS – 10 carries 45 yards/1 reception 15 yards
Will Johnson FB/TE – Pittsburgh Steelers
Johnson could have an interesting role with the Steelers in 2015. Pittsburgh coaches have talked about using him at the TE position in some formations this year. With the injuries their tight ends have suffered during the preseason, this could mean more catch making opportunities for Johnson. With that said Johnson does not have much Fantasy value but it wouldn’t hurt to watch how the Steelers use Johnson at TE.
PROJECTED STATS – 5 carries 15 yards/12 receptions 80 yards 1 TD