When word began to leak out in Week 7 that QB Tony Romo was done for an extended period of time, the attention of the fantasy football world quickly turned to the impact that new starting QB Jon Kitna would have on stud wide receiver Miles Austin.
After watching Kitna target TE Jason Witten, and throw two touchdowns to WR Dez Bryant in the remainder of Week 7, Austin owners understandably began to grow impatient.
Following an entire week of practice with the first team offense, Kitna got his first start in Week 8 at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Austin was targeted a team-high 12 times and hauled in seven receptions for 117 yards. But how those yards came about is a little more telling.
A majority of Austin's targets came on short and intermediate routes, concentrated in the middle of the field. Austin was either running drag routes or crossing routes, and using his speed to out run the defense after the catch.
Austin's two big plays came in two very different ways. The first was a nice go route where Austin beat CB Mathis off the line and simply caught the ball over his shoulder and sprinted for another ten yards.
Austin's second big play came off a short crossing pattern when Austin caught the ball three yards beyond the line of scrimmage, again in the middle of the field, then used his speed to shed a would-be tackler and picked up 20 additional yards.
Based on the limited sample size of one week and 12 targets, it appears that Austin will continue to be used in the way he has most of the season.
A majority of his targets will come on short and intermediate routes, and Austin will need to use his elusiveness and speed after the catch to rack up yardage.
Austin ranked second in 2009 among wide receivers for total yards after catch production—totaling 588—and is currently third among wide receivers in 2010 with 214 yards after catch, and on pace for 489 yards after catch.
So, in short, there is no reason for Austin owners to panic with Kitna at the helm. While an increase in touchdowns would surely be appreciated, those will come with time as long as the yardage production stays constant.
Please note that the Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers are all on a bye in Week 9.
|1.||Reggie Wayne||@ PHI||CB Patterson making first NFL start and covering Wayne. Good luck, kid.|
|2.||Roddy White||v. TB||TB giving up 23 fantasy points to WRs every week, and QB Ryan better at home.|
|3.||Hakeem Nicks||@ SEA||While SEA defense better at home, five of Nicks' eight TDs have come on the road.|
|4.||Greg Jennings||v. DAL||DAL defense has issues (see Week 8), and Jennings getting the ball.|
|5.||Calvin Johnson||v. NYJ||Jets will pressure QB Stafford, but Johnson simply too good to be denied.|
|6.||DeSean Jackson||v. IND||Street free agents litter the Colts secondary, and QB Vick's return is huge.|
|7.||Anquan Boldin||v. MIA||MIA surrendering 22 fantasy points to WRs, and Boldin two TDs in two weeks.|
|8.||Andre Johnson||v. SD||Still not healthy, and SD giving up second-least fantasy points to WRs.|
|9.||Terrell Owens||v. PIT||PIT pass defense ranked 25th, and Owens has scored in four straight games.|
|10.||Miles Austin||@ GB||Austin showed in Week 8 that he can still get yards, but needs to find the end zone.|
|11.||Jeremy Maclin||v. IND||Assuming WR Jackson starts, Maclin primed for big game as No. 2 against a soft IND secondary.|
|12.||Pierre Garcon||@ PHI||Getting targets and catches, so if WR Collie still out then 100 receiving yards very possible.|
|13.||Marques Colston||@ CAR||CAR corner backs are actually solid, so Saints need to use Colston in the vertical seams.|
|14.||Mike Williams, TB||@ ATL||RB Blount huge for TB passing game, and ATL giving up fifth-most fantasy points to WRs.|
|15.||Brandon Marshall||@ BAL||Hasn't found the end zone since Week 3, and only 10 total receptions in the last two weeks.|
|16.||Dwayne Bowe||@ OAK||No CB Asomugha would be huge, but only three receptions in Week 8, though one for a TD.|
|17.||Mike Wallace||@ CIN||CIN allowing 19 fantasy points to WRs, but pretty much just a boom or bust big play guy.|
|18.||Steve Smith, NYG||@ SEA||Two scores in three games and receptions trending up.|
|19.||Johnny Knox||@ BUF||BUF has given up a TD to a WR every week since Week 1.|
|20.||Steve Breaston||@ MIN||Monster game in Week 8, and fully healthy. Should see weak coverage from soft MIN secondary.|
|21.||Steve Johnson||v. CHI||CHI not giving up many fantasy points to WRs, but Johnson has scored in five straight contests.|
|22.||Davone Bess||@ BAL||Simply powering the MIA passing attack, and receptions trending up.|
|23.||Percy Harvin||v. ARI||Will suffer moving back to the outside after losing WR Moss. Weeks 1-3 weren't pretty.|
|24.||Patrick Crayton||@ HOU||Texans allowing 25 fantasy points to WRs, and Gates may not play.|
|25.||Larry Fitzgerald||@ MIN||Finally scored twice in Week 8, but still has not topped 100 yards.|
|26.||Lance Moore||@ CAR||Will again utilize the middle of the field, and caught seven balls for 54 yards and a TD in Week 8.|
|27.||Steve Smith, CAR||v. NO||Hasn't scored since Week 2, but did catch nine balls for 85 yards in Week 8.|
|28.||Dez Bryant||@ GB||Seems to have rapport with QB Kitna, and GB giving up 19 points to WRs.|
|29.||Mike Williams, SEA||v. NYG||Williams' production dependent on QB Whitehurst staying upright against good NYG pass rush.|
|30.||Seyi Ajirotutu||@ HOU||Snap count increasing dramatically, and HOU secondary is awful so plenty of opportunities.|
|31.||Darrius Heyward-Bey||v. KC||CB Flowers is solid, so opportunities may be limited, but very good Week 8 with a TD.|
|32.||Hines Ward||@ CIN||Two solid games, otherwise barely worth starting.|
|33.||Wes Welker||@ CLE||Hasn't found the end zone since Week 2, and averaging only 34 yards per game since WR Moss left.|
|34.||Braylon Edwards||@ DET||Has done nothing of note over the last few weeks, though he may find the end zone in Week 9.|
|35.||Nate Burleson||v. NYJ||Should find plenty of room with the attention paid to WR Johnson, and still a pretty good WR.|
|36.||Lee Evans||v. CHI||Bound to disappoint after two solid games, and CHI not allowing much to WRs.|
|37.||Chad Ochocinco||v. PIT||Other than a solid Week 7, has basically fallen off the map.|
|38.||Derrick Mason||v. MIA||MIA giving up chunks of points to WRs over last three weeks, so he has a shot.|
|39.||Santonio Holmes||@ DET||Hasn't had much of a fantasy impact yet, might make a splash in Detroit.|
|40.||Roy Williams||@ GB||No running game for the Cowboys, so Williams has a chance if he can catch the ball.|
That concludes the Week 9 wide receiver rankings.
You can check out my Midseason Report Card: Grading the Top 50 Players if you so desire.
For an all you can eat buffet of fantasy football information, you can follow Nathan on Twitter @NathanWaddell.