After four years of steadily improving stats, TJ Houshmandzadeh hit a wall, statistically, last season. Of course, looking at stats alone doesn’t do the situation justice. The Bengals had some definite QB issues, among numerous others.
Now TJ has flown the coop, and will be primary guy in Seattle. What does this mean for his fantasy stock …
Factoring in that Carson Palmer was not under center most of the season, and that TJ was relying on unproven Ryan Fitzpatrick to deliver the pigskin, TJ’s numbers last season could be considered a fluke. He finished with 904 yards receiving after two seasons of well over 1,000. He finished with just four touchdowns, the lowest since he notched just four in 2004. Houshmandzadeh finished with his lowest yards per game (60.3) since 2002. However, he averaged 4.1 yards after the catch, easily better than the 3.8 and 3.3 he averaged during his best two seasons (2006, 2007 respectively). This means that when he did get the ball, he was able to perform just fine — but that many of his catches were short dump receptions vs. down-the-field scoring opportunities that he, and his fantasy owners, enjoyed in years past.
All this again points back to the QB woes, along with a lackluster running game.
Now in Seattle, how are those situations different? Instead of Ryan Fitzpatrick as TJ’s only lifeline to the football, it will be Matt Hasselbeck under center. Hasselbeck isn’t a spring chicken anymore, but at 33 years old, should still have some good seasons left in him. Of course, he is coming off arguably his worst NFL season ever. He earned just a 57.8 QB rating (his next lowest was a 70.9 mark in 2001 — his first season in Seattle). In 2008, he played in just seven games after injuries riddled his playing time. Of his 209 passes attempted, just 109 were completed, leaving him with just a 52.2 completion percentage, also a career low. A year after scoring 28 touchdowns in 16 games, he notched just five in seven games.
So, outside of the injuries, were there any other factors affecting Hasselbeck’s play last year? Can you simply shrug it off to a rash of receiver injuries and having no real reliable target to throw to?
Also, what about the Seattle running game? It was atrocious at times last year. What is different about this season? Julius Jones is still there, but Maurice Morris is not. Will the O-line create enough of a pocket for Hasselbeck to work? Is he past the injury concerns?
If Hasselbeck does miss time, is Seneca Wallace the answer? Is he really much better than Ryan Fitzpatrick?
The bottom line is that with Seattle, there are tons of unanswered questions. TJ has the size and skill set to produce most anywhere if given the opportunity. However, a year after what turned out to be a statistical mess with the Seahawks offense, how will TJ truly fare? Based on his intangibles alone, TJ should be considered a WR2 in most fantasy leagues. With all the questions surrounding his situation, you might be able to snag him cheap in fantasy drafts. If everything comes together in Seattle, Houshmandzadeh could produce some juicy numbers for his fantasy owners — just be sure to temper expectations for now.