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Chris Givens: The True WR1 in St. Louis

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Chris Givens

Chris Givens Fantasy 2013

Not too long ago, I urged readers to take a chance on Tavon Austin in fantasy drafts. Ten weeks later, I am still advising fantasy owners to take a chance on a young St. Louis wide receiver. Only this time, it’s Chris Givens.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rookie hype when the NFL Draft rolls around. There isn’t much else to talk about from a fantasy perspective at that time. Analysts begin to talk themselves into the idea that a rookie could outperform expectations. Sometimes the rookies prove them right. Most of the time, the rookies prove them wrong. The latter is especially true for rookie wide receivers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not jumping off the Tavon Austin bandwagon completely; I’m just leaning off the ledge a little. To me, Chris Givens is the Ram you want. Hands down, he’s the better value. As it currently stands, Fantasy Football Calculator ranks Givens 39th overall, eight spots behind Austin. Givens is typically being drafted in the ninth round of standard 12-team leagues, while Austin is being grabbed in the seventh.

Chris Givens 2012 Stats (projected over 16 games)

2012 (actual) 14 42 81 698 16.6 65 3
2012 (extrapolated) 16 48 93 798 16.6 65 4

The past few weeks have seen Givens slowly climb the ADP ranks, as he continues to put up big preseason numbers while Austin struggles. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to hardcore fantasy fans though. Givens was fairly productive in the 14 games he played last season. He found the end zone three times, and hauled in a flurry of deep passes with some jaw-dropping catches along the way. Extrapolate Givens’ 2012 numbers over a full 16-game season and he’s catching close to 50 balls for 800 yards and 4 scores. Not bad for a rookie, huh? With a year of experience under his belt, Givens could actually steal Austin’s fantasy thunder in 2013. It could be Austin’s own strengths that hurt his own fantasy value and boost Givens fantasy value as well. Austin’s speed and athleticism demands attention from defenses in the flat and over the middle. This should hand Givens his fair share of 1-on-1 coverage and leave defensive backs vulnerable. With Givens speed and quickness, he could exploit corner backs both underneath and over the top. As long as Sam Bradford’s throws are on the money, expect Givens to reel in some big TD catches in 2013.

With that said, there’s still a good chance Austin will finish ahead of Givens in the rankings come season’s end. In PPR formats, the chance of that happening is only greater. However, I just think Givens carries more value at his current ADP. The battle for the WR1 spot in St. Louis could be neck-and-neck, but you’re getting Givens two rounds later in your draft. In fact, Givens could wind up being the clear-cut WR1 when it’s all said and done; even in PPR. Austin may accumulate more receptions, but Givens is likely to do more with his receptions.

A good way to show you what I mean, is by analyzing this blind comparison of two players who’s side-by-side target comparison in 2012 might look a lot like the comparison we’ll see for Austin and Givens in 2013:

Player A – 82 targets, 37 receptions, 424 yards, 11.1 ypc, 2 TDs
Player B – 46 targets, 26 receptions, 506 yards, 20.0 ypc, 5 TDs

Which of these guys would you want on your fantasy team in any league? Player B, right? The obvious choice.

Well, Player A is Reggie Wayne and Player B is T.Y. Hilton. Those are their stats over the last 7 games of the 2012 season. Wayne was targeted a ton. He was Luck’s go-to possession receiver. Much like Tavon Austin is expected to be for Bradford and the Rams. On the other hand, Hilton was targeted half as much, mostly on deep routes. Much like Givens will be. Hilton’s ability to track down the deep ball led to some big yardage numbers and more scores with less the effort. He did more with less.

Down the stretch you wanted T.Y. Hilton in your lineup, not Reggie Wayne. I see it playing out the same way in St. Louis this year. Givens may not be the possession guy with a ton of targets, but he’s tough to keep up with over the top and he’s proven he can track down balls and make catches with a high degree of difficulty. Austin will be the household name, but Givens will be the guy you want on your fantasy team.

Fantasy Breakdown:

Expect Givens to be a quality WR4 in standard scoring formats, with WR3 upside. His ability to haul in the deep ball makes him slightly more valuable in big play leagues. I still like Austin slightly more in PPR formats. In the slot and out of the backfield, Austin is bound to see more targets. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams are saving a lot of plays designed for Austin for the regular season as well. His skill-set offers the Rams a lot of versatility on offense. However, outside of PPR, Austin feels a bit risky nowadays. We haven’t seen him take off like we expected in the preseason. Meanwhile, Givens has been solid, often electric thus far. He’s got a year of experience under his belt. Drafting him at Round 9 value could prove to be a huge return on your investment.

At the very least you’re sure to make the guy starting Tavon Austin against you sweat it out every time Bradford throws it deep. See Gridiron Experts Wide Receiver Projections here

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About the author

Bob Talbot

Bob, a Quinnipiac grad, is an avid sports fan and fantasy enthusiast. Currently resides in the professional sport-less state of Connecticut, but will never forget his roots in the great state of New Jersey.

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