T.J. Houshmandzadeh was released by the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, after the team was unable to find any takers for a trade. Rumors had the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins, and Minnesota Vikings as teams of interest, but it was the Baltimore Ravens who struck a deal with the 32-year old receiver. Houshmandzadeh will be a depth guy behind Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason, and is probably insurance against a Boldin injury. He still has some value, but he’s certainly droppable if you can find someone with a regular starting role.
The other transaction of interest (or maybe not) was Matt Leinart being released by the Arizona Cardinals and signed by the Houston Texans. Houston was unhappy with the play of former backup Dan Orlovsky and are now in a better place with Leinart backing up Matt Schaub. There is always a threat of injury with Schaub, so it’s possible that we see Leinart at some point this season, but he shouldn’t be owned.
Arizona’s two best offensive weapons have been slowed by injuries in the preseason. Larry Fitzgerald appears to be fully recovered from a tweaked knee he suffered on a hospital ball from Leinart a few weeks ago. He is expected to start this week against a weak St. Louis Rams defense, and should put up solid fantasy numbers. Expect Derek Anderson to look to him often. The other injury note for the Cardinals is in reference to Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells. The second-year back hurt his knee in Thursday night’s game against Washington. Apparently, he could have returned had it been necessary, but the team played it safe. I think the safer play would have been to keep him out completely, but who am I? Wells should be fine, and should be started at St. Louis.
Dallas rookie wideout Dez Bryant is no longer limited in practice. He’ll be ready to go for the Cowboys’ NFC East matchup with the Redskins. While the Cowboys should win this game easily on paper, the NFC East is not for the faint of heart. Start Miles Austin. Avoid starting Bryant if you can. As a rookie, he may have difficulty in the first month or so.
Speaking of the Redskins, Donovan McNabb looks to make his regular season debut in Washington. He’s been slowed by an ankle injury suffered earlier this preseason. He’ll be serviceable, but is probably only your starter in deeper leagues this week. The Dallas defense is good, he was poor against them last year, and he doesn’t have the same weapons he had in Philadelphia. Add to that Mike Shanahan’s penchant for running the ball, and I think McNabb is a week 1 stay-away.
Due to a Byron Leftwich knee injury, the Steelers will start quarterback Dennis Dixon when they host Atlanta on Sunday. Dixon started a game last year against the Ravens, and despite the team losing the game, he played reasonably well against one of the league’s best defenses. He’ll have to use his speed behind a shaky offensive line. If Rashard Mendenhall can make some plays early, it’ll go a long way to keeping the pressure off Dixon.
C.J. Spiller was officially named the top running back on the Bills’ depth chart. He’ll get the majority of the carries in Buffalo’s week 1 tilt against Miami. He figures to be a high upside play, and should be considered an RB3 or flex starter. Depending on his early season performance, he could eliminate any further talk of a running back committee in Buffalo.
Like Spiller, Justin Forsett was officially named the starter for Seattle’s division matchup with San Francisco. Forsett is easily the most talented back in the Seahawks’ backfield, but needs to assert himself on Sunday. Like Spiller, he is a decent RB3 or flex option, but owners should be aware that Leon Washington is still there and will share some of the load. Julius Jones was released, but accepted a pay cut to remain with the team. He’s merely running back depth.
With the Houshmandzadeh release, Seattle Seahawks wide receivers Deion Branch and Golden Tate are now a little more appealing. Neither are solid starters, but if you can stash them to see what happens in Seattle, it might be worth it for a few weeks.
Good luck during the season.