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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
Report: Lions work out RBs Tashard Choice, Alex Green
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:24 pm ET) The Lions have worked out veteran running backs Tashard Choice and Alex Green, according to ESPN.

Choice has played for four teams in six seasons and has rushed for 1,579 yards on 373 carries for a 4.2 YPC average. Green has appeared in 29 games over three seasons with Green Bay and the New York Jets and has run for 510 yards on 149 carries for a 3.4 YPC mark.


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by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:20 pm ET) Through four games, both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson rank in the top-22 among running backs in Fantasy scoring, as the Bills' timeshare has worked out nicely for both players. However, they might not find much success in Week 5, with the tough Lions defense on the way.

The Lions have done a solid job against opposing running backs, limiting them to just 3.4 yards per carry. They rank 10th in Fantasy points allowed, at 14.0 per game, which won't leave much for Spiller and Jackson to share. No running back tandem has seen both players reach double figures against the Lions either, though the Jets came close, thanks to Chris Johnson's late touchdown run in Week 4.

The Lions have been one of the best teams against the run over the last few years, so we shouldn't be surprised that they have maintained that through the quarter mark of the season. With so few teams on bye, you should have better options, so steer clear of this backfield tandem for Week 5. 


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(1:16 pm ET) Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson played through a hip flexor issue in Week 4, but was absent from Wednesday practice due to the same problem.

Johnson has started all four games this year, but has contributed to just three tackles.


RB Jonathan Stewart practicing with Panthers on Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:11 pm ET) The Panthers received some positive news Wednesday in the wake of the DeAngelo Williams injury when fellow running back Jonathan Stewart returned to practice.

Ron Rivera, who said he's hopeful Stewart can play Sunday against Chicago, was initially projected to miss a month after sustaining a knee injury in Week 3. But the Panthers might need him to give them some carrries even if he's not fully healthy.


Report: Dee Milliner practicing Wednesday
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1:11 pm ET) Jets cornerback Dee Milliner participated in the portion of practice open to reporters, according to The Star-Ledger. Milliner, who's missed the past two games with a quad injury, stretched, went to the rehab area and then jogged onto the field when positional drills began, the report said.

"It looks like Milliner will play at the Chargers," the paper said.


Ryan Fitzpatrick could be worth the risk
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick did a good job of limiting mistakes through the first few games of the season, but has failed to do so in two games since. Can he turn things around in Week 5 against the Cowboys?

The Cowboys have given up 20-plus Fantasy points to three quarterbacks in four games, including 50 combined over the last two games. However, they have also done a good job of forcing turnovers, with five interceptions over the last three games, so it isn't all smooth sailing for Fitzpatrick, especially given his own issues.

Fitzpatrick has a solid collection of weapons around him, and this game could turn into a shootout, but he just might not be equipped to take advantage of that. Still, the matchup is a good enough one that Fantasy owners can consider him at least a solid second quarterback in two-QB leagues for Week 5.  


Mike Pettine says he'll keep Travis Benjamin on punt returns
by Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
(1:03 pm ET) Browns coach Mike Pettine told the Akron Beacon Journal that he's sticking with Travis Benjamin as the team's punt returner. Benjamin has returned three punts for a total of 2 yards while making five fair catches.

Can you trust in Cam Newton?
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:58 pm ET) Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who still isn't doing much running on his surgically repaired ankle, had his worst performance of the season Week 4 at Baltimore, and yet he still managed to put together a 94.9 passer rating.

I understand passer rating doesn't mean what it used to with completion percentages on the rise, but that's not even where Newton excelled against the Ravens. He averaged 7.9 yards per attempt and didn't turn the ball over -- two important measurements regardless of the times.

And he's been great in both areas all year. The problem is it hasn't yielded much in Fantasy because he hasn't delivered the touchdowns.

I think that changes eventually -- maybe even this week against the Bears, who allowed four touchdown passes to the Packers' Aaron Rodgers last week -- but I'm of the belief that at a position as deep as quarterback, you don't start a guy until he gives you reason to start him. I feel more comfortable with everyone Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard rank ahead of Newton at quarterback for this week, which means he should probably be sitting in standard 12-team leagues.


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by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:57 pm ET) Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan are taking a far quieter approach to letting the world know about the progress of his recovery from a dislocated left ankle than they did in a similar situation last season, according to CSNWashington.com.

Griffin and Mike Shanahan gave frequent updates in 2013, when he was rehabbing from a knee injury. But they have said little about his current situation, though he is expected to return sometime this season, perhaps even in a few weeks. Jay Gruden provided virtually nothing to go on Wednesday.

"He's doing a great job, and like I said, for whatever injury he has, he's probably going to recover quicker than the normal human being, faster than anybody probably," Shanahan said. "So it won't surprise me when he comes back. ... Whatever the timetable is, I have no idea."

Griffin has not played since sustaining the injury early in Week 2.


Garrett Graham staring at a great matchup
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:55 pm ET) The Cowboys pass defense has held up better than we expected so far this season, with one notable exception; they cannot seem to locate tight ends on the field. That could work out quite nicely for Garrett Graham in Week 5, as the Texans get set to take on Dallas.

Graham has just 95 yards through three games since returning from a back injury, so this could be his best chance to breakout. The Cowboys are allowing 17.5 Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, by far the highest total in the league. They have allowed 98.8 yards per game and six total touchdowns, including at least one in each game.

Graham is, by no means, a slam-dunk starting option for Week 5. However, given the matchup, you could do worse. At this point, the Cowboys have to prove they can stop tight ends before we believe it. 


 
 
 
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