Spotlight - WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati Bengals
Posted 8/22 by Jason Wood and Chris Smith,
Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Jason Wood's Thoughts
T.J. Houshmandzadeh was a pleasant surprise last season. Entering the season, he wasn't on the fantasy radar (except in dynasty leagues) as most viewed the Bengals WR pecking order as 1) Chad Johnson, 2) Peter Warrick, 3) Kelley Washington, 4) The Rest. But Washington struggled again with his consistency and Warrick was sidelined with injury. Houshmandzadeh rose to the occasion and emerged as a solid complement to all-world Chad Johnson.
As a result of his solid 2004, "Housh" re-signed with the Bengals and now has both financial security, and the starting job for the first time entering training camp.
But before we get too worked up about his prospects, let's take a look at exactly what he accomplished last year.
- Houshmandzadeh finished 31st among fantasy receivers, implying he was a marginal WR3 in 12-team leagues
- He only scored 4 TDs
- He had eight games with less than 60 yards receiving and no scores
One notable statistical quirk from last year, Housh's best games came against the league's top defenses. In fact, his only three 100+ yard games last year came against Baltimore (twice) and New England. Was that just an oddity of the schedule or something a bit more telling?
In any event, Housh is a starter for a young Bengals offense that many expect to break through this year. Carson Palmer is on everyone's short list as the "QB Sleeper" and we know that Chad Johnson is going to command significant defensive attention week in, week out. Houshmandzadeh WILL have chances to make plays, but the important thing is just to remember that for every week he'll put up solid numbers, he'll probably give you two weeks of marginal output.
- A surprise starter last year, Houshmandzadeh did enough to secure a new long-term deal in Cincinnati
- With Chad Johnson opposite him, and Carson Palmer throwing him the ball, Houshmandzadeh should see plenty of one-on-one matchups and well thrown balls to make plays
- His ADP of WR36 suggests means that you can draft him as a backup and hope for a breakout with little downside risk
- He only caught 4 TDs last season (73 catches) and isn't particularly gifted in any aspect of the receiving trade
- Kelley Washington has been resurgent in camp, and rookie Chris Henry has 1st round talent (with a 4th round attitude)
It seems the fantasy world has Houshmandzadeh about right this year. His ADP of 36th among WRs (9th round in 12-team leagues according to Antsports) is right in line with my expectations for him this season. He certainly could produce much better stats, and you can draft him as a backup hoping for more. He's not someone that's going to carry you, but he's exactly the kind of decent backup you can roster who may end up saving your season if circumstances turn out just right. Draft accordingly.
Chris Smith's Thoughts
After two very disappointing seasons in the NFL in which in caught only 62 passes total and a single touchdown, it didn’t appear that Houshmandzadeh was going to have an impact at the professional level. However in 2004, Peter Warrick was unable to play and Houshmandzadeh was able to play at a high level, setting a career high in receptions (73), receiving yards (978) and touchdowns (4) and he had three 100-yard receiving games. One of the challenges with a player that emerges from nowhere to have a big impact in fantasy football is to determine whether or not he can continue that trend in future seasons.
Can Houshmandzadeh finish as high as last season? (The 31st best receiver in terms of fantasy production)
• He has decent size at 6’1" and 197 lbs
• He has improved in each of his first three NFL seasons
• He has the confidence of his young signal caller
• Peter Warrick is still fighting off injuries and may not make the team
• Fellow young receivers such as Kelly Washington, rookie Chris Henry and Kevin Walter have all had a productive offseason and will be in the hunt for playing time. Especially Kelley Washington who has lost weight and is playing with a purpose thus far during camp
• The first option within this offense will always be WR Chad Johnson
• A good running game along with better defensive play could limit the number of passing attempts
- Good size at 6’1 and 197 pounds
- He caught 65.8% of the balls thrown his way a year ago
- He caught five or more passes in seven games last season
- He has proven quite durable thus far and has missed only two games
- He caught four touchdown passes in the final six games
- He appears cemented into the # 2 position
- He had only 111 passes thrown his way. If his % of passes caught drops, he will lose value in a hurry
- Lots of competition for playing time. As mentioned above, many receivers are in the hunt to see action this season and rookie Chris Henry has made a big impression.
- He was feast or famine too often in games last season. He had many good games but also many poor ones throughout the season
- He failed to score a touchdown in the first nine games last season and has only scored five times thus far in his career
- A healthy Chris Perry (if there is such a thing) could result in more passes going to the running backs
T.J. Houshmandzadeh will have a solid season in 2005 but his numbers will likely drop a little due to an increase of competition for touches in Cincinnati. Both Kelly Washington and rookie Chris Henry have been really impressive this season and both bring great size to the table. It wouldn’t be a big surprise at some point to see Houshmandzadeh placed into the 3rd receiver role to work out of the slot with either Washington or Henry stepping into the starting role. Combine that with his streaky play game to game and you should be wary of drafting him too early. Your projections on Houshmandzadeh should be conservative this season.
Quotations from the Message Board Thread
To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there),
I like him a lot this year because I think that as good young QBs mature, they start going to the 2nd WR and not just using the #1 guy all the time as a security blanket. I expect CIN to pass more this year, but for Housh to get most of the extra stats as Chad Johnson stays about the same.
You have to like the #2 WR in Cincy. The problem is, I don't see Housh as the #2 for much more than half the season.
He's a quality possession receiver and is slippery to tackle. He's a great fit in the Cincy offense.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh Projections
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