Fantasy football owners made Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams a popular pickup before Week 6 of the NFL season, and for a good reason—he was outstanding against the Denver Broncos last weekend.
The Baylor product finished with four receptions for 151 yards and his first career NFL touchdown in Dallas' 51-48 loss to Denver on Sunday, a strong follow-up performance to his eight-catch, 71-yard output in Week 4 against the San Diego Chargers.
Unfortunately, though, his production against NFC East rival Washington could be hindered as a result of another Dallas wideout reinserting his name into the mix.
Miles Austin has not played in either of the Cowboys' last two games, but returned to practice this week and looks ready to earn significant playing time in Week 6.
ESPN's Todd Archer had the news on Twitter:
Miles Austin will play Sunday. Missed 2 games with hamstring injury. "Fired up."— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) October 11, 2013
ESPN Dallas' Twitter account also posted a tweet with word that No. 19 would be active and in his usual role in the offense come Sunday night:
Miles Austin of Dallas Cowboys returns after two-game absence http://t.co/OuwqFdF7AJ— ESPNDallas (@ESPNDallas) October 11, 2013
The situation makes Williams a gutsy fantasy play this weekend, even if you're planning on using him as a WR3/4 or flex option.
Over the first three weeks of the season, Austin dwarfed Williams in terms of targets. Quarterback Tony Romo attempted to get the ball to Austin 21 times during the first three games, while Williams was targeted just seven times. The rookie didn't see a target in the 31-7 win over St. Louis.
When Austin went down with a hamstring injury against the Rams, things instantly started looking up from a fantasy and real-life perspective for Williams. That promise showed in a solid performance against the Chargers, and didn't get past any dedicated fantasy owner after a breakout week against Denver.
Heading into Week 6 with the Redskins, Williams had been a viable option in most formats since the Cowboys have shown an ability to put up points in bunches. It also helps that Dez Bryant will see extra coverage on virtually every play.
Mike Clay of Pro Football Focus tempted owners earlier in the week with this tweet about Williams' status:
Terrance Williams ran 41 of 45 routes. He remains a legit WR3/4 as long as Miles Austin is out. #Cowboys— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 7, 2013
The key words there are "Austin" and "out," though, and his return to the lineup is a knife turn in the side for owners who added Williams to their roster with the purpose of starting him this weekend.
Williams has clearly been more explosive than the 29-year-old veteran in his limited chances, and there are those that don't understand why he would be banished to a lesser role just because Austin's injury concerns have been—temporarily—halted.
ESPN's Tim MacMahon is among that crowd:
Miles Austin is practicing, but should he get his starting gig back? Why not roll with Terrance Williams and limit 19's snaps?— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) October 9, 2013
As it is, it appears Austin is being given the chance to return to his starting role and will do so with the blessing of the coaching staff and entire offense. As much as it stings for fantasy owners to hear, Williams could be the odd man out here.
Which receiver deserves more snaps opposite Dez Bryant?
That said, this is still an offense where receivers go off at any given moment. Romo is fresh off a 500-yard performance against the Broncos and, in Week 6, will be facing a Washington secondary with more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese.
Austin and Williams could both finish with respectable outputs against the Redskins. It's important to understand that the presence of both players limits the potential of each on a week-to-week basis.
Start both of these guys at your own risk and only do so if you are in a league where wide receiver is a position of need. I wouldn't slot either Austin or Williams above WR3 status in any format, simply because the unpredictability of the play-calling with both in the lineup.
Then again, the Cowboys are playing the Redskins. It could be a big day for every offensive skill position player.
Miles Austin Projected Stats: 4 receptions, 49 yards, 1 TD
Terrance Williams Projected Stats: 6 receptions, 88 yards, 0 TD
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