Now before everyone gets their panties in a bunch, I am not talking about “the resurrection”. This is a football site, so I am not going to spend my bandwidth discussing the probability of the afterlife of a Nazarene carpenter. I am talking about a player’s ability to change their career direction by changing their zip code. There is precedence set for this being successful. Let’s jump in the wayback machine and revisit some other address changes. In the ’99 and ’00 seasons, Jerry Rice set some new bench marks in his storied career. For the first time in history, Rice had back to back seasons of less than 900 yards and less than 8 touchdowns and general consensus was that he was washed up. The 49ers released him, so he promptly moved across the bay to Oakland where he spent the next 2 seasons putting up 1139 yards and 1211 yards respectively and a combined 16 touchdowns. Corey Dillon started his career with 6 consecutive 1000 yard seasons and a firm spot as the only thing in a Bengals jersey worth watching. In his injury shortened 2003 season, “clock killin” Corey Dillon, amassed a mere 541 yards and lost his job to Rudi Johnson. 2004 saw Dillon pile up 1600+ yards, 14 touchdowns and a superbowl ring! The list goes on and on, Joe Montana, Priest Holmes, Rich Gannon, Cedric Benson, Randy Moss. So, we know that it is possible for players to move to a new situation and flourish. The question is, is it probable that any of this year’s cast of presumed washed up transplants will resurrect their career and become one of the fantasy relevant once again?
TJ Houshmandzadeh, WR Baltimore Ravens – TJ, although a talented receiver, does not have the skill set for a true number one, which is why he had success in Cincinnati. This is not a new story, if you think back there are countless examples of number 2 receivers who had huge years, signed a big free agent contract and did nothing, Peerless Price, Brett Perrimen, JJ Stokes, Keenan McCardell, Muhsin Muhammad. Now Houshmandzadeh had decent numbers, but he did not have fantasy football WR1 numbers and his numbers did not justify his paycheck. In Baltimore with Anquan Boldin leading the way and taking all the double coverage, a solid running game to keep the safeties honest, Housh will be back in a spot that treats him well…the guy left open. In addition, Dante Stallworth was lost to injury so Houshmandzadeh should see some lift in his fantasy value over last year and once again be relevant.
Mike Williams, WR Seattle Seahawks – Williams was left on the trash heap after his stints in Detroit and Tennessee. He came into the league with great expectations and the only thing he accomplished was being the biggest bust is a string of WR first round picks for the lions. Now he did not turn out to be the disappointment that Charles Rogers did from a personal standpoint (he didn’t pass out at a red light) he just didn’t realize any of his potential on the field. However, he might have hung around just long enough. He has played his way into a starting position in the offense that made him a star at USC this preseason. He played so well in the preseason that the Seahawks felt comfortable cutting their number one target from 2009 (see above). He is playing for his old college coach in Pete Carroll and he is in a pass first offense. The real wild card here is Deion Branch. Branch has a history of health issues and if he goes down again this year, Williams could find himself in a position to be the number one target. Worth a late round flier.
Mark Clayton, WR St. Louis Rams – Clayton has only had one season in which he had any fantasy value at all and it was a while ago. Although Clayton will be moving to a much less crowded wide receiver core, he will most likely end up being the guy who helped Laurent Robinson to become a true WR1. Sam Bradford looked great in the preseason, but he is a rookie QB on the Rams. None of the Rams have fantasy value except Steven Jackson.
Matt Leinart, QB Houston Texans – Leinart had no fantasy value in Arizona with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston and Edgerrin James. Next!
Larry Johnson, RB Washington Redskins – LJ was a super stud who was run into the ground in Kansas City. He has been irrelevant for a couple of seasons but showed at the end of last season that he might have a tiny bit of gas left in the tank. With an aging, injury prone Clinton Portis as the only guy between him and the starting job in a Mike Shanahan offense who turned Olandis Gary into a 1000 yard back, Larry Johnson might actually have a shot at value.
Jake Delhomme, QB Cleveland Browns – I hate Jake Delhomme, as a fantasy player, not as a person because I have never met him. I am sure however that I would not like him as a person either. Jake was not relevant when he had weapons, now he is in Cleveland (see Matt Leinart), the defense rests your honor.
Derek Anderson, QB Arizona Cardinals – Anderson has a big arm, a pro bowl appearance a few years ago and ABSOLUTELY NO MOBILITY! I seem to recall another guy who played in Arizona with a big arm, a pro bowl appearance a few years before he got to AZ and absolutely no mobility, his name was Kurt Warner! Keep in mind Warner had a bit of the “washed up stink” on him when he got there too. Keep an eye on Anderson.