Here is a deep dive behind some of the key statistics (targets, red zone and goal line) for Fantasy Football success to help give you a little edge in your weekly quest for victory.
• I would say Calvin Johnson's knee injury is finally getting better and the stats certainly back that up. From Week 4 to Week 8, when Johnson was clearly at less than 100 percent he struggled in every available metric. During that span, Calvin saw 44 targets and caught only 17 of them (38.6 percent catch rate) for 269 yards (6.1 yards per target) and no touchdowns. He did not catch 50 percent of his targets in any of those four games and was held to five or fewer Fantasy points three times. Well, the rest during the week has certainly helped, because in his last two games alone, Megatron hauled in 19 of his 21 targets (90.5 percent) for 336 yards (16 yards per target) and one touchdown. Clearly a healthy Megatron is a little bit better than a hobbled Megatron and he looks poised to finish out the year as the No. 1 ranked Fantasy receiver from here on out.
• Welcome back Danny Amendola! Amendola made a huge return to the field for the Rams in Week 10, catching 11 of his 12 targets for 102 yards in the team's tie against the San Francisco 49ers. Amendola also had an 80-yard reception called back on a garbage penalty, so he could have had an even bigger day. Amendola is the unquestioned top target for Sam Bradford and has hauled in at least five passes in every full game this season and is averaging a whopping 8.4 receptions per full game this year. It sure looks safe to get him back into your lineups in all formats and he is a must start in PPR leagues.
• Eli Manning is killing a ton of his Fantasy owners and his recent stink has also caught up with those of us who had been enjoying the production from Victor Cruz earlier in the year. Eli has not thrown a touchdown pass in three straight games and is averaging less than 200 yards passing per game during that span. The normally heavily targeted and always involved Cruz has become almost invisible during this bad stretch with some alarming numbers. Over the last three weeks, Cruz has seen 23 targets and has caught only 10 (43 percent) of them for 116 yards (5.0 yards per target). Before Week 8, Cruz was catching 62 percent of his targets and averaged nearly 8.0 yards per target. Now his seven touchdowns in the first seven games were covering up some yardage issues, but he was productive week in and week out. That is no longer the case and it should be noted that Cruz has been held below 60 yards receiving in six of his 10 games this year, which is something that happened only twice in 14 regular season games a year ago. If you were to include the 2011 Super Bowl run, Cruz has been held below 60 yards receiving in eight of his last 14 games, which is something to be concerned about.
• Donald Jones is someone to put on your radar screens if you need a plug and play wide receiver for Week 11 against the Miami Dolphins. In his last three games, Jones has seen 24 targets and has caught 13 of them for 186 yards and two touchdowns. In the last two games, Jones has been targeted 19 times and has 12 catches for 139 yards and one touchdown. He had at least six catches in both games and will be facing a Miami pass defense that has allowed 100 yards or a touchdown to three secondary receivers in the last two weeks alone.
• Cecil Shorts is the real deal and the more I watch this kid, the more I am impressed with him. He always seems to accelerate into his catches and reminds me of Victor Cruz (circa 2011) after the catch as a result. Shorts had no catches in the first half of Week 10, but finished the game with six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts. Short was also robbed of an amazing 30-yard one-handed catch in the game that the officials erroneously ruled to be an incompletion. In his four games since becoming the starter in Jacksonville (he has moved Justin Blackmon to the third receiver role), Shorts has produced at least 11 Fantasy points on three occasions, has two 100-yard receiving games and is averaging 11.25 points per game. In those four games, Shorts has caught 21 of his 39 targets (54 percent) for 356 yards (9.2 yards per target) and two scores. He is not just a big play guy and is really developing into the best remaining weapon on the Maurice Jones-Drew-less Jaguars.
• Denarius Moore is the main man in Oakland, but his running buddy Darrius Heyward-Bey is finally healthy and is starting to play at a very high level himself. DHB has produced at least seven Fantasy points in four straight games as he has topped 70 yards or scored a touchdown in every single game. Despite seeing only 24 targets in this four game run (he been targeted 14 times the last two weeks), DHB has caught 15 passes (63 percent) for 273 yards and two scores. He is averaging a very solid 11.4 yards per target and an even more impressive 1.7 Fantasy points per target. With a tasty matchup against the New Orleans Saints coming up in Week 11, look for DHB to stay hot.
• Is there a more efficient receiver in the NFL right now than Golden Tate? Over his last three games, Tate has been targeted only 15 times, but he has 13 catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns. The crazy thing is that all three touchdowns have come in the last two games on a grand total of eight targets! Almost every other pass thrown to Tate has resulted in a score! For the year, one of every 4.2 catches by Tate and one of every seven targets to Tate has resulted in a touchdown! No wonder they call him Golden. Now if he could only have a game with 70 yards receiving and become a consistent yardage producer, we could really have a star on our hands. Oh yeah, did I mention he also threw a touchdown pass against the New York Jets in Week 11? I have to say, Tate is really starting to be impressive for this upstart Seattle team.
• I think we have to pay attention to Danario Alexander in San Diego, because the big wide receiver is healthy and has sent Robert Meachem to the bench. After catching all three of his targets for 61 yards in his Week 9 debut, Alexander saw seven targets against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and certainly made the most of them. He hauled in five of them for 134 yards and touchdown, which was a pretty unbelievable 80-yard catch and run score. In his limited career with Philip Rivers, Alexander has caught eight of his 10 targets for 195 yards and the score, which means he is averaging a ridiculous 19.5 yards and 2.55 points per target. San Diego will be throwing the ball a lot down the stretch and Alexander is definitely worth a look off of the waiver wire.
• Cecil Shorts is the man to own in Jacksonville, but PPR leagues might also want to pay attention to Laurent Robinson. LoRo is not worth $70 right now, but with a league-high 24 targets and 15 catches for 118 yards over the last two weeks he is worth a look. He is averaging 13 points per game in PPR leagues, which is pretty solid and I expect the Jags will be throwing it a ton going forward. He is not an exciting pickup, but if you need a potential high volume No. 3 receiver, Robinson is not the worst option.
• I would like to say you're welcome to Matt Ryan in reply to his unspoken thank you for reminding him to throw Tony Gonzalez the ball. In Week 10, Gonzo saw 15 targets, the most of any tight end, and responded with 11 catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. It is pretty simple with Gonzo; if you target him, he will produce. In six games with six or more targets, Gonzo has totaled 49 catches for 501 yards and six touchdowns. In the three games with five or fewer targets, Gonzo has 12 catches for 116 yards. Here's to seven more games with six or more targets for the ageless wonder!
• Greg Olsen is getting back to being a major part of the Carolina Panthers' passing attack. Over the last two weeks, albeit with favorable matchups, Olsen has been targeted 19 times and has caught 14 of them for 150 yards and two scores. Now 102 of the yards and both scores came last week against the Denver Broncos, but I like the fact that Olsen has at least nine targets (he has been second at the position in targets each of the last two weeks) and five catches in back to back games. Look for Olsen to remain the De facto No. 2 target for Cam Newton and he will get the chance to be a Top 12 tight end from here on out.
• Scott Chandler has also stepped up his play of late with eight catches for 116 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets over the last two weeks. In Week 11 he will face the Miami Dolphins, who have allowed the opposing starter to produce at least six Fantasy points and finish in the Top 12 at the position three weeks in a row.
• Marcel Reece was the most targeted running back for the second straight week as he nine targets once again in Week 10. Reece caught seven of those passes for 56 yards and was once again a PPR stud for your teams. Reece also saw 13 carries for 48 yards against the Baltimore Ravens and his 20 total touches and 104 total yards were on par with any starting running back in the NFL. With the New Orleans Saints coming to town in Week 11, it sure looks like Reece is a must start for your Fantasy teams with Darren McFadden expected to remain out.
• Target Leaders by position for Week 10: Wide receiver: Laurent Robinson (15), Hakeem Nicks (14), Brandon Marshall (13), Calvin Johnson (13), Cecil Shorts (13) and Roddy White (13); Tight end: Tony Gonzalez (15), Jason Witten (10) and Greg Olsen (10); Running back: Marcel Reece (nine) and Joique Bell (eight)
• Andrew Luck (five), Robert Griffin III (five) and Cam Newton (four) lead all quarterbacks with red zone rushing touchdowns. The two gentlemen tied for fourth place might be a little tougher to figure out however. Matthew Stafford believe it or not has three scores as does exciting second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. Kap may be the best pure running quarterback in the NFL and last week against the Rams, he ran for 66 yards and touchdown in his most extensive action of the season. For the year he has 177 yards and three scores on his 21 rushes and if he becomes the starter, his legs will give him immediate Fantasy value.
• I am sure it is no surprise to you that the Top 5 quarterbacks in terms of red zone passing touchdowns are Drew Brees (19), Matt Ryan (17), Aaron Rodgers (16), Peyton Manning (16) and Tom Brady (14). It may however surprise you to learn that Josh Freeman is tied for fifth with Tom Brady with 14 red zone passing scores of his own. Freeman now has multiple touchdown passes in five straight games and is playing at an elite level for the red hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
• Just in case you were keeping score at home, Andre Brown scored a rushing touchdown for the fourth straight week and remains tied with Ray Rice for second place in the NFL with seven rushing touchdowns. The guy is a machine and is always worth a look as a flex option.
• LeSean McCoy has a healthy 21 red zone carries this year, but has only been able to convert those into two touchdowns. Meanwhile, he has seen eight targets inside the 20-yard line and has scored three touchdowns on five catches. Maybe the Eagles could solve their red zone woes by just throwing screens, swing passes and shovel passes to their talented runner so he can make plays in space. The offensive line is clearly struggling to generate any kind of push in clear running situations and McCoy is averaging a league worst 1.1 yards per carry in the red zone.
• If you are trying to figure out how Brian Hartline can have so many catches and yards this year with only one touchdown, look no further than the red zone. Hartline has 10 red zone targets this year, tied for 16th among all wide receivers, but does not have a single red zone score. In fact, Hartline is the only wide receiver in the NFL with at least eight red zone targets on the season and no touchdowns. In case you were wondering, Hakeem Nicks has seven red zone targets and no scores as well.
• Torrey Smith, Andre Roberts and Michael Crabtree all need to become bigger parts of their respective red zone offenses. Smith has converted five of his six red zone targets this year into touchdowns and is the only player with fewer than 12 red zone targets to have at least five red zone scores. Roberts has scored on four of his five red zone targets this season and Crabtree has found the end zone on three of his four chances.
• Andrew Luck now has more goal line rushing touchdowns (five) then every running back in the NFL not named Arian Foster, Andre Brown and that is it folks. We all knew Luck could throw the ball, but the fact that he was an excellent runner in college and had a comparable size, speed combo to Cam Newton was completely ignored by many. I projected Luck to rush for 288 yards and two scores in the preseason, which was very ambitious comparatively speaking, but clearly way too low. Luck is on pace to run for 283 yards (so I was not that far off in the yardage department) and 10 touchdowns as a rookie. Obviously the scores won't be repeatable, but 250 rushing yards is the same as 1,000 passing for Fantasy purposes and he is a guy who has a nose for the goal line. With teams really having to pick their poison in how they defend Luck near the end zone, I would not be surprised to see him put up five to six rushing scores a year going forward. The bottom line to all of this is that Andrew Luck is going to be a Fantasy Football superstar for years and years to come.
• Not only does Arian Foster lead all running backs with eight goal line rushing touchdowns (yes Andre Brown is second with seven), but he also leads all running backs with two goal line receiving scores after his diving catch against the Bears on Sunday night. He is one first round pick who has definitely lived up to the hype and then some.
• After watching Michael Turner get stuffed at the goal line again by the New Orleans Saints in Week 10, I had to take a deep look at his goal line numbers. This year, Turner has received 12 goal line carries, which is second in the NFL. He has converted only two of those into scores and his 16.6 percent goal line scoring rate is the worst of his career and worst among the 10 busiest runners at the stripe. This is a number that has fallen every single year he has been in Atlanta, from an NFL best 70 percent in year one to his rock bottom this year. Turner is actually averaging .25 yards per carry in these situations and I have to believe that if he were on Cincinnati, he would be no better and perhaps worse than BenJarvus Green-Ellis at this point of his career.
• My favorite part of the Atlanta Falcons offense is that when Tony Gonzalez gets tackled at the one-yard line, they immediately throw him the ball on the next play. It happened in Week 5 against Washington and it resulted in an immediate score. This week it happened again and even though the next play was an incompletion to Gonzo, they came back to him on third down and he got the score. In other words, with Turner being so bad at the goal line, Gonzo actually leads the team with three scores inside the five and is a safe bet to get a few looks, especially when he gets them to the one yard line himself.