by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
On a weekly basis no position seems more unpredictable than tight end, does it? In any given week there seems to be a seemingly unknown player coming out of nowhere to produce big numbers only to disappear into obscurity the following week. That just adds to the value of having an option you can depend on week in and week out and makes it more important to find the unknown talent who could emerge as something more than a flash in the pan.
One such option could be the Cardinals’ Rob Housler, who has shown growth as he enters his third year in the league. He played 15 games in 2012 picking up 45 receptions for 417 yards and 0 TD. Considering that came courtesy of a QB group that threw for just 3,383 yards and that he didn’t sit atop the depth chart early (Todd Heap had that job, though he played just two games) the numbers look even better.
As we enter 2013 Housler appears primed to be the top tight end target in Arizona and has been receiving rave reviews from the new coaching staff. According to Kent Somers of azcentral.com (click here for the article):
“Arians is high on tight end Rob Housler “a wideout playing tight end,” he said. “I think the sky is the limit as far as where he can get talent-wise.”
That’s high praise and has to get fantasy owners excited. Remember, it was just a year ago that Arians got good production from a pair of rookie tight ends, with Colby Fleener & Dwayne Allen totaling 71 receptions for 802 yards and 5 TD. Considering the experience Housler has gained and the seemingly lack of competition behind him, things are looking up significantly.
As we’ve said before, the addition of Carson Palmer should mean good things for the entire Cardinals’ offense. He’s not about to be confused with the elite in the league, but he obviously brings significantly more upside than what the team ran out there last season.
The other offensive weapons should also help open things up for Housler. Obviously Larry Fitzgerald is going to draw the majority of the attention from defenses. While Michael Floyd, the team’s 2012 first round draft pick, failed to impress in his rookie season (45 receptions for 562 yards and 2 TD), there’s a lot of hope that he can take the next step. If he does, it just further complicates things for defenses. The addition of Rashard Mendenhall should help the backfield, at least early on, as they wait for one of their youngsters to emerge.
Everything just seems to be slanting in his favor:
- High praise from his coach (though, this could ultimately prove to be more of an offseason cliché)
- Improved QB play
- A new system that clearly utilizes tight ends
- An elite talent drawing the focus of defenses
Just to make things even better, he offers TE1 upside at a fraction of the cost. It seems likely that, if healthy, he exceeds 60 receptions and should start finding the end zone. As a late round option, that makes him well worth targeting (especially if you take a risk with your starter).