Fantasy Football Blitz: Jimmy Graham owners may want to meet Rob Housler

      October 8, 2012 @ 16:56:30 PDT

New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham
Wasn't this spritely after Week 5

Many participants in deep fantasy football leagues - or those who must carry deep rosters - own two tight ends. Not necessarily because of insurance, either: The playability of middle-tiered options has increased as more NFL squads focus on extracting offense from the position.

Time to see what's out there for owners of Jimmy Graham and, to a lesser extent, Greg Olsen, who have Week 6 off. Some Graham owners might not own a second commodity, after all, and in some formats, the pickings might be toothpick-thin. Graham's ankle injury may compound the problem in some cases.

If you fall into this category, get to know Rob Housler, the athletic Arizona Cardinals piece. The Birds don't use the position much and haven't quite found a consistent role for the 6-foot-5, 250-pound sophomore. But that may change soon.

Arizona's running game has plenty of wounded birds - Beanie Wells (toe) is out for another month-plus, and Ryan Williams (shoulder) is now dunzo for 2012. LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell and Alfonso Smith will split the work, for now. Barring bringing in another toter, that's a whole lot of zzzzzzzzz.

Housler's number has been tabbed more often of late. He's been on the field for at least 60 percent of Arizona's offensive plays in each of the past three games. Maybe that'll drop when Todd Heap (knee) returns, and Jeff King hangs around as a useful body. They probably prefer to have more TEs around to bolster their blocking overall, and they already have an abundance of receiving targets in Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Early Doucet.

The front five showed their inconsistency in Week 5, though, and using King and Heap as blockers would free up Housler to run routes. His six-target affair in Week 5 may have been the start: Kevin Kolb underthrew Housler on what could've been a big gain to add to Housler's three-grab, 45-yard night.

Much like the Detroit Lions do with Brandon Pettigrew, quick routes to Housler, who looks like a much bigger Aaron Hernandez in terms of football movement, may become a frequent substitute for ground work. Kolb enjoys a fast-paced, knee-jerk offense, after all.

Housler has hauled in 66.7 percent of his targets this year. His chief competitor for middle-of-the-field stuff, Doucet, has converted just 59.1 percent. Small sample, sure, but possible indicator of a switch in priority?

Even if this comes true, among tight ends, Housler would only rank as just a flex play. But in Week 6 he takes on the Buffalo Bills, who've allowed 5.75 catches, 82.5 yards and 0.25 touchdowns per game to the position over the last four weeks. They were gashed by the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers - prominent catchers - and also let talented but unproven Cleveland Brown Jordan Cameron show a surprising semblance of TE production.

It's a decent week to try Housler if little else is out there. He's a top-20 PPR tight end option and might have upside for more in some weeks if Arizona commits. Don't bank on it, but don't dismiss it.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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