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Tricks of the trends after Week 10

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Jordy Nelson may be the best second receiver in the NFL and it would be scary to think what he could do with 10 targets per game. In standard scoring leagues, Nelson is the seventh-ranked receiver with 102 points.

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That is pretty remarkable when you consider he has only seen 46 targets on the season. Yep, he is leading the league with a 2.21-points-per-target average! Wow. Nelson is only the 70th most targeted receiver on a per-game basis at 5.1 targets per contest, but that has not stopped him from racking up 633 yards and seven touchdowns through nine games.

Not only is Nelson first in points per target, he is also tops with a 15.2 percent touchdown rate among all receivers who have seen at least 30 targets this year. Nelson is also first among the 73 most-targeted receivers with a 13.8-yards-per-target average and is fourth with a 73.9 percent catch rate.

In other words, Nelson may be having the most overall efficient season any receiver has had in NFL history. Kudos Jordy!

Target observations after Week 10 ...

• One thing Carson Palmer has decided is that Denarius Moore is going to be his top target while he is the starting quarterback for the Raiders. In Palmer's two starts, Moore has seen 19 targets while the other five receivers in Oakland have combined for 17 during that span. Moore obviously leads all Oakland pass catchers with 184 yards and two touchdowns over the last two weeks and he should continue to add to that total in Week 11 when the Raiders take on the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota is giving up 24.89 points per game to wide receivers, third most in the league.

• Since returning from his injury, Earl Bennett has been a real shot in the arm for quarterback Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears' passing game. In his two games since returning, Bennett has seen 11 targets and has caught all 11 of them for 176 yards and a score. That's a ridiculous 100 percent catch rate and a solid 16-yards-per-target average. Obviously he will not keep up that pace, but you can bet Cutler will lean on his former college teammate down the stretch if he keeps making plays like that.

Damian Williams is not a sexy pickup for your Fantasy teams, but he is someone who should get a long look after scoring in back-to-back games for the Tennessee Titans. Over the last three games, Williams has produced at least six standard Fantasy points and 10 point-per-reception Fantasy points. He is becoming a go-to guy for Matt Hasselbeck. After all, during those three games, Williams has seen 19 targets and caught 13 of them for 201 yards and two scores. So, he is catching 68 percent of his targets and averaging 10.6 yards per target during that span. Contrast that with Nate Washington's 62.5 percent catch rate and 6.3-yards-per-target average and you can see why Hasselbeck may start to go Williams' way even more down the stretch.

• After receiving 39 targets in the four games before Carson Palmer took over as the starter in Oakland, Darrius Heyward-Bey has seen just one pass in Palmer's two starts. Wonder what he did to Carson?

Greg Little has the dubious distinction of having seen the most targets of any pass catcher (65) without scoring a single touchdown this year. Second on the list is Austin Collie, who has not scored despite seeing 57 targets on the year. That is quite the contrast to 2010 when Collie had Peyton Manning under center and caught eight touchdowns on 72 targets.

• Early in the season, Aaron Hernandez seemed to be the top tight end target in New England, with Rob Gronkowski a very close second. Well, over the last three weeks, the tables have turned and Gronk is the main man in the New England passing game. In the last three games here are the totals for both Gronkowski and Hernandez: Gronkowski -- 35 targets, 23 receptions, 308 yards and three touchdowns; Hernandez -- 14 targets, 10 receptions, 85 yards and two touchdowns. Wow. Gronkowski is putting up numbers and I would challenge any team to get more production than 393 yards and five scores from the tight end position in any three game stretch.

• Not only is Michael Bush an amazing runner of the football -- as we have seen since Darren McFadden went down with a sprained foot -- but so far in 2011 he is the most efficient receiver out of the backfield currently playing the game. Despite seeing only 18 targets on the season, Bush has 229 yards and a touchdown receiving. He is leading all running backs with at least 10 targets on the year with a 12.7-yards-per-target and 16.4-yards-per-catch averages. It is going to be very difficult to just send him back to a secondary role when Run DMC returns from injury. We may see a very real 50/50 split going forward.

• Target Leaders by position for Week 10: Wide receiver: Calvin Johnson (20) and Harry Douglas (14); Tight end: Ed Dickson (14) and Jimmy Graham (12); Running back: Ray Rice (10) and Mike Tolbert (9).

• Yards Per Target Leaders among qualifying players by position after Week 10: Wide receiver: Jordy Nelson (13.8) and Mike Wallace (12.5); Tight end: Jake Ballard (12.3) and Joel Dreessen (10.1); Running back: Michael Bush (12.7) and Fred Jackson, Ryan Mathews, LaDainian Tomlinson (8.9).

• Worst Yards Per Target among qualifying players by position after Week 10: (in other words, who did the least with the most): Wide receiver: Eddie Royal (4.0) and Andre Caldwell (4.2); Tight end: Marcedes Lewis (4.4) and Kellen Winslow (5.0) Running back: Willis McGahee (2.9) and Cadillac Williams (3.8).

Red Zone

John Skelton for president! That's what Larry Fitzgerald owners are saying after the second-year quarterback figured out what Kevin "corn on the" Kolb could not. "What is this magical discovery Skelton made?" you might ask. Well, it's actually pretty simple. Skelton realized that Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best receivers to ever play in the NFL and it just might be a good idea to throw him the ball a ton, especially inside the 20-yard line, so his big-time player could make big-time plays. In seven games with Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald averaged 8.3 targets per game, saw only five red zone targets and caught just one red zone touchdown. In two games with John "Einstein" Skelton, Fitzgerald has seen a total of 25 targets and was targeted four times in the red zone, resulting in three red zone scores. So, thanks to this groundbreaking, forward-thinking notion, Fitzgerald caught more touchdowns in the last two games than he had in seven games with Kolb. No wonder Kolb had three scores and a pathetic red zone touchdown rate, while Skelton already has four touchdowns and a 57 percent red zone touchdown rate. I speak for all of us when saying Skelton should stay the starter in Arizona if for no one's sake other than that of The Professional Larry Fitzgerald.

For more from Nathan check out his website at thefantasyconsultant.com

Cedric Benson is grinding out tough yards for the upstart Cincinnati Bengals, but he has been brutal in the red zone. Despite being sixth with 36 red zone chances, Benson has only one score inside the 20 and his 2.8 percent scoring rate is the worst among the 31 busiest backs. Maybe he will be the fourth straight back to punch in a close score against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 11.

• In other futility news: The Green Bay Packers' combination of Ryan Grant and James Starks have not scored since Week 1 and have just one touchdown on 32 combined red zone chances. It's a pass-first team if you have not noticed. Add in the fact that full back John Kuhn has four red zone scores on 10 chances of his own, just adds further salt to those wounds.

• Among the 22 runners who have at least 20 red zone opportunities, no one has more touchdowns (10) or a better red zone touchdown rate (30.3 percent) than Adrian Peterson. That is incredibly impressive given the lack of quarterback play around him right now.

• Remember how I was praising Jordy Nelson for being arguably the most efficient wide receiver ever? Well let's add another piece of evidence to the argument. Among the 54 receivers who have seen at least six red zone chances, Nelson is … wait for it … come on, any guesses? Yep, Nelson is first with a 57.1 percent red zone touchdown rate. He is the only receiver north of 50 percent and his four touchdowns on seven targets seems all the more impressive when you consider Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne, Anquan Boldin, Mike Williams, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Victor Cruz and Percy Harvin needed a combined 74 red zone chances to notch five touchdowns. Wow, again.

Tony Gonzalez continues to amaze. He is tied for first among all tight ends with 16 red zone targets and is second to only Rob Gronkowski (16 targets, seven scores) with six touchdowns of his own. He has a touchdown in five games this year, tied for the most among all tight ends.

Goal Line

• The poor Colts are not having success in any facet of their attack. But at the goal line they have been epically dreadful. Curtis Painter is dead last among starting quarterbacks with an 11.1 percent goal line touchdown rate, only 70.7 percent behind Matt Ryan. Add in his passing touchdown and Ray Rice would have seven goal line scores, most in the NFL. With Rice getting the ball at the stripe, he is a safer and clear stud running back for Fantasy owners.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis has four goal line touchdowns this year, but none have come in the last four weeks. He has also been held to less than 10 yards rushing in two of those games and is a risky Fantasy play. Hopefully he gets back into the end zone this week against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Marshawn Lynch is getting it done at the stripe and has a touchdown in five straight games as a result. He has converted four of his seven goal line chances on the year and his 57 percent goal line touchdown rate is the second best among the 16 busiest runners-up. He should get another score this week in a great matchup against the St. Louis Rams.

Glossary
Target Conversion Rate or Catch Rate (TCR): The percentage of a player's targets (passes thrown to them) that are converted into receptions. Over 60 percent is excellent, 66 percent is elite and under 52.5 percent is worrisome.
Yards per Target (YPT): A player's receiving yards divided by his targets. In other words, the numbers of yards a team gains on average every time they attempt a pass to a certain player. Over 10 is exceptional, over 8 is solid and 6 or lower is horrendous.
Red Zone Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 20 yard line
Red Zone TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Red Zone opportunities that result in a TD
Goal Line Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 5 yard line
Goal Line TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Goal Line opportunities that result in a TD
Consistency Rate: The percentage of quality starts a player gives you out of 16 games. For QBs that is a game with 300+ yards passing OR multiple TDs. For RBs/WRs: A game with 100+ yards rush/rec or a game with a TD. For TEs: A game with 60+ yards receiving or a TD. For a Kicker: A game with multiple FGs.
Big Game Rate: The percentage of dominant starts a player gives you out of 16 games (games missed with injury count as a bad game since they do not help your Fantasy teams). For a QB that is a game with 300+ yards and 2+ TDs or 200+ yards and 3+ TDs. For a RB/WR that is a game with 100+ combined rush/rec yards and a TD or a game with multiple TDs. For a TE that is a game of 60+ yards and a TD, 100+ yards or a game with multiple TDs.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Nathan at @NathanZeguraTFC .

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Player News
Eagles' Chris Polk gets first-team reps in practice
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Eagles running back Chris Polk received first-team reps in practice on Wednesday, according to CSNPhilly.com.

Polk opened practice with the starters and ran a couple of plays. LeSean McCoy watched the plays from the sideline. Following practice, McCoy stressed that it wasn't a big deal. "We rotate all the time," he said. "[Running back coach Duce Staley] pulled me out. [Darren] Sproles wasn't in either." Polk is coming off a three touchdown performance in Week 15. It's possible he could find his way into more playing time given the practice situation. 


Seahawks without three offensive lineman on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Seahawks did not have three of their offensive linemen at practice on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Max Unger, Russell Okung and J.R. Sweezy were all held out. Unger has missed the past four games due to an ankle and knee issue. He was able to practice last Friday, but did not play on Sunday. Okung is dealing with a bruised lung, but there's a chance he'll recover in time for Sunday's game. "[Okung is] going to have some stuff done [Thursday] that will let us know where he sits and all that," head coach Pete Carrol said. "He’s not out of the plan yet."

Sweezy is dealing with an ankle injury. His appearance on the injury report comes as somewhat of a surprise. 


Lions pick up CB Josh Thomas
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Lions have claimed cornerback Josh Thomas on waivers, according to the New York Post

Thomas was cut by the Jets on Tuesday, but found a new job quickly. He's played in three games this season, registering two tackles. 


Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch sits out on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch did not practice on Wednesday.

Lynch has been using Wednesday as a veteran's day all season, so the move isn't a big surprise. He's been battling a back injury throughout most of the season, but has been able to play through it. Lynch has 1133 rushing yards, with 10 touchdowns, this year. 


Texans' DeAndre Hopkins unable to practice on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins did not practice on Wednesday.

Hopkins is dealing with an ankle injury, and was unable to go. Hopkins has played in all 14 games this season. He has 1167 yards on 69 receptions. Hopkins has caught six touchdowns. His status will likely be determined based on how much he is able to practice on Thursday and Friday. 


49ers WR Michael Crabtree misses practice Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree did not practice Wednesday due to a knee injury, reports CSNBayArea.com. Crabtree, who has not cleared 60 receiving yards since Week 11, isn't believed to be seriously hurt.

He's scheduled to play the Chargers on Saturday night. If Crabtree can't go, it could mean increased targets for fellow starter Anquan Boldin.


Raiders QB Derek Carr limited by thumb injury
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was limited in Wednesday's practice with a thumb injury, but coach Tony Sparano isn't too concerned, reports CSNBayArea.com. Carr has thrown one or zero touchdown passes in four of his past five games entering Sunday's contest against Buffalo.

Report: Jay Cutler to be benched Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Bears will bench starting quarterback Jay Cutler Week 16 against the Lions, according to ESPN.

The move comes as a big surprise given the seven-year, $126 million contract Cutler signed in January. Cutler has had a big problem with turnovers this season, throwing 18 interceptions and fumbling 12 times. The move could mark the end of Cutler's season as the starter, and puts his future in Chicago in jeopardy. 

The team will turn to Jimmy Clausen to replace Cutler.


Texans RB Arian Foster held out Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) Texans running back Arian Foster did not practice Wednesday with what the team called a hip injury. Foster was listed on the injury report last week with a groin injury, then racked up 117 yards from scrimmage on 29 touches at Indy.

Foster, who might just be getting a veteran's rest day, is expected to start Sunday against the Ravens. Houston is a 5.5-point underdog at Caesars Palace Race and Sports Book.


Report: Bears to start Jimmy Clausen Week 16
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/17/2014) The Bears will start Jimmy Clausen Week 16 against the Lions, according to ESPN.

The move comes as a major surprise. While Jay Cutler has faced scrutiny for his body language and demeanor, the team handed him a seven-year, $126 million contract last season. The move seems to indicate that Cutler is done for the season, and puts his career with the Bears in jeopardy.

Clausen has seen time in three games this season, completing three passes in nine attempts. His last start came back in 2010, his rookie season. That year, Clausen threw for 1,558 yards, with three touchdowns against nine interceptions. 

The Lions are currently 7-point favorites, according to VegasInsider.com.


 
 
 
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