Amid the struggles of the Arizona Cardinals after they started the season 4-0, most fantasy owners were certainly focused on the disappointing season put together by star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. A fluctuating quarterback situation was the primary reason for the Cardinals’ offensive struggles, and the number one reason head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired, making it easy to overlook any other player that may have contributed in a positive fashion.
A changing of the guard occurred at tight end in Arizona in 2012, as veteran Todd Heap’s continuing struggles with injuries opened the door for Rob Housler to have a bigger role. The second-year man out of Florida Atlantic did not disappoint under the circumstances, catching 45 passes for 417 yards despite missing Week 17 with a shoulder injury and going without a catch in three other games.
Newly promoted Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has already anointed Housler as an “emerging star” and a potential matchup problem for opposing defenses, but even without that endorsement he looks like Arizona’s clear-cut starting tight end heading into the 2013 season.
The Cardinals clearly need to address their quarterback situation this offseason, but they do have some talent in the passing game with Fitzgerald, 2012 first-round pick Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts at wide receiver. Regardless of which direction Arizona goes with their head coaching hire and by domino effect with their starting quarterback, a new offensive system will do all involved a lot of good and Housler could be among those who benefit most.
Housler’s fantasy value is greatest in keeper leagues right now, but I consider him a TE2 with upside in deep single-season leagues for 2013. If the Cardinals add a tight end via free agency or the draft that may change things, but with Keim’s recent statement in mind it looks unlikely they’ll add serious competition for Housler.