In spite of his 92 receptions and 904 receiving yards, the vast majority in the fantasy football community considered T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s 2008 campaign with the Cincinnati Bengals to be a flop. The reason being that Houshmandzadeh’s TD total dropped from an impressive 12 in ’07 to a less than productive 4 in '08. The main culprit being the loss of star QB Carson Palmer to a season-ending shoulder injury and a lack of red zone chemistry with mediocre backup signal caller Ryan Fitzpatrick. The absence of a solid running game also crippled the Bengals passing game severely. If you were fortunate enough to be in a points per reception league, Housh proved to be somewhat valuable, but in most leagues where finding pay dirt is the name of the game, he fell well short of expectations.
In 2009, the 31-year-old veteran wide out finds himself in new surroundings in Seattle after spending his entire 8 season career in Cincinnati. While the challenges of this transition will be plenty including a new town, a new head coach in Jim Mora, a new QB in Matt Hasselbeck and a new West Coast offensive scheme under offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, Houshmandzadeh looks to regain his top flight fantasy status with the Seahawks. Probably the biggest adjustment Houshmandzadeh will face in Seattle will be comprehending the nuances of Greg Knapp’s West Coast offense. This offense will be different from the one Houshmandzadeh was so successful with in Cinci, both in philosophy and terminology. When most people think of the West Coast scheme, they immediately think pass heavy offense. In all actuality, the West Coast offense was designed to open up the running attack. While most offenses use the run to open up the passing game, the West Coast offense is the exact opposite, using a pass first philosophy to open up the run. So long story longer, this offense will be vastly different from the pass happy scheme using multiple receiver sets you have grown accustomed to seeing the last few years in Seattle under former head coach Mike Holmgren.
Don’t get us wrong, we still expect Seattle to throw the ball early and often this season, especially with their lack of talent at RB, and a great wide receiver like Houshmandzadeh can flourish in this offense. In fact, the best wide receiver in the history of the NFL, Jerry Rice, owes much of the credit for his success to Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense. The good news is that Houshmandzadeh has been quick to pick up on the new offense, and by all accounts, the chemistry between himself and QB Matt Hasselbeck has been outstanding in mini camp, especially in red zone drills.
While we don’t anticipate Houshmandzadeh to put up monster reception and yardage totals in Seattle, he should be in the ballpark of last season’s totals. We do, however, expect to see his TD total to rise significantly from last season.
There is little doubt that he will be the go to guy in the red zone in the Seahawks revamped passing attack. Another great thing about Houshmandzadeh in terms of fantasy appeal is his ability to play through nagging injuries and play well. He also isn’t a guy that tends give less effort in a non contract year. He is a blue collar type receiver that isn’t afraid to do whatever it takes to get the job done. That said, we don’t foresee Housh as an elite WR1 candidate in fantasy drafts, but he is about as solid a WR2 candidate as you will find for your fantasy roster in 2009.
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