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2012 Draft Prep: Targets, touches and red-zone data

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Roddy White has led the NFL in targets the last two seasons. He had 191 last year and 177 in 2010. But his time is up as the busiest receiver in the league.

The development of Julio Jones will cut into White's production, and he will fall from the top of the target list. It's not like White will disappear and become Terrell Owens. He just won't see as many passes this year, and his stats will suffer, thus impacting his Fantasy value.

Targets, red-zone targets, touches and red-zone touches are second-level stats that could make the difference between a Fantasy championship and a last-place finish. And we're here to break it all down for you.

You want to know the players who see the most passes in their direction, have the most activity near the goal line and touch the ball the most. The more involved a player is the better their Fantasy stats will be, which is something we all want.

Editor's note: The stats for 2012 are Jamey Eisenberg's projections for this year based on how each player will be used in the passing game, as a workhorse running back or near the red zone.

Targets

Wide receivers trending up

Dez Bryant, Cowboys
2011 targets: 104
2012 target projections: 142
Quick catch: Bryant is headed for a breakout campaign in his third year, and he should see a significant increase in targets. He should emerge as the No. 1 receiver for the Cowboys, and Miles Austin (hamstring) and Jason Witten (spleen) are banged up. We hope both are fine, but Bryant should definitely see more passes in his direction this year.

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Eric Decker, Broncos
2011 targets: 94
2012 target projections: 134
Quick catch: Decker's targets were actually decent last year given Denver's offense with Tim Tebow, but adding Peyton Manning should help him shine. Manning is going to like using Decker as his possession receiver, but he should also be able to make plays down the field. He shapes up as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with No. 2 upside.

A.J. Green, Bengals
2011 targets: 115
2012 target projections: 153
Quick catch: It wouldn't surprise me if Green was the No. 1 receiver in targets this season with how much the Bengals will throw this year based on what should be a decline in their running game. Green only caught 56.5 percent of his targets last year, but he still managed 65 catches for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns.

Robert Meachem, Chargers
2011 targets: 61
2012 target projections: 111
Quick catch: Meachem should be used more in San Diego than he was in New Orleans as he tries to replace the departed Vincent Jackson. Meachem's career high in targets was 66 in 2010, and he's averaged just 3.9 targets a game over the past three seasons as part of a crowded receiving corps in New Orleans. Jackson, by comparison, had 115 targets last year and has averaged 6.8 targets a game over his past three full seasons.

Jordy Nelson, Packers
2011 targets: 95
2012 target projections: 120
Quick catch: Nelson was among the most efficient receivers last season, catching 71.6 percent of his targets, which helped him finish as the No. 2 Fantasy receiver behind Calvin Johnson with 68 catches for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers should look in Nelson's direction more often this year, which should only lead to great things.

Torrey Smith, Ravens
2011 targets: 95
2012 target projections: 105
Quick catch: Smith is definitely more of a deep threat than a possession receiver, but he said this offseason he wanted to improve his route running. With Anquan Boldin sliding into more of a secondary role, we could see Smith lead the Ravens in targets (Boldin had 106 in 2011). This should be a breakout year for Smith.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
2011 targets: 70
2012 target projections: 128
Quick catch: Like Decker, the addition of Manning should help Thomas go from good to great. He enters this season as a No. 1 Fantasy receiver with the chance to be a Top 10 or even Top 5 option in all leagues. Thomas had three games with double digits in targets in 2011 and finished with one 100-yard game and two touchdowns over that span.

Wide receivers trending down

Nate Burleson, Lions
2011 targets: 111
2012 target projections: 88
Quick catch: Burleson was underrated last year with 73 catches for 757 yards and three touchdowns, but he could see a decline in production with an increased role for Titus Young. We believe Young will eventually start ahead of Burleson, and you still have Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew on the field. Burleson is worth a late-round flier, but his stats will go down.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers
2011 targets: 114
2012 target projections: 93
Quick catch: Crabtree now has to share targets with Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, and his already questionable Fantasy value should decline. He played well last year with 73 catches for 880 yards and four touchdowns, but he might have peaked with the additions the 49ers made on offense.

Brandon Lloyd, Patriots
2011 targets: 150
2012 target projections: 135
Quick catch: I'm thrilled with Lloyd going to the Patriots and playing with Tom Brady and being reunited with Josh McDaniels. But he was No. 5 in targets last season, and he will struggle to remain at that level with all the weapons in New England. He should still be heavily involved on offense, but his target total will decline.

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Nate Washington, Titans
2011 targets: 121
2012 target projections: 109
Quick catch: Washington is turning into great value on Draft Day, especially with Kenny Britt (knee) injured and facing a possible suspension. But unlike last year, when Britt went down in Week 3 with a torn ACL and Washington was left to carry the receiving corps, he has help this season. The Titans drafted Kendall Wright, will have Britt back and should have an increased role for Jared Cook. All of that will cut into Washington's targets.

Wes Welker, Patriots
2011 targets: 173
2012 target projections: 158
Quick catch: Like Lloyd, Welker will see a decline in targets based on all the mouths to feed in New England. He was No. 2 in targets last year, and he was extremely successful catching 70.5 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. Welker will remain as one of the most-targeted receivers this season, but he might be closer to the Top 10 than the Top 3.

Roddy White, Falcons
2011 targets: 179
2012 target projections: 148
Quick catch: As we said, the development of Jones will cut into White's targets. White will still remain a huge part of the passing game in Atlanta, and Matt Ryan isn't going to shy away from him. But he's averaged 184 targets the past two years, and Jones will take away a significant portion of those passes.

Mike Williams, Buccaneers
2011 targets: 125
2012 target projections: 93
Quick catch: The Bucs added Jackson this offseason, and he should see the most targets in this passing game if Tampa Bay wants to be successful. While we like Williams with a late-round pick since he should see plenty of single coverage, he will not be a Top 15 receiver in terms of targets this season like was in 2011.

Running backs trending up

Reggie Bush, Dolphins
2011 targets: 52
2012 target projections: 68
Quick catch: The Dolphins need help in their receiving corps, and Bush is expected to see an increase in targets. He averaged just 3.2 targets a game in 2011, which was down from his previous two years (he had 5.2 targets a game in 2010 and 4.2 in 2009). Bush had at least 50 catches in the first three years of his career with a high of 88, so he's capable of being used more in the passing game.

Donald Brown, Colts
2011 targets: 19
2012 target projections: 53
Quick catch: Brown has never had more than 20 catches in a season, and the Colts did add Mewelde Moore this offseason to help on passing downs. But Brown should assume most of Joseph Addai's 22 targets from last year, and he could be a reliable outlet for rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. Brown has been underutilized as a receiver thus far, which should change in 2012.

Ryan Mathews, Chargers
2011 targets: 59
2012 target projections: 76
Quick catch: Mike Tolbert was No. 4 in targets in 2011 with 79, and it's clear Philip Rivers likes to dump the ball off to his running backs. Mathews is one of the few running backs who should work on all downs, and his receiving skills will only enhance his overall Fantasy value. He had 50 catches last year and should be close to 65 this season.

Bilal Powell, Jets
2011 targets: 1
2012 target projections: 46
Quick catch: Powell is expected to be the No. 2 running back behind Shonn Greene, and he will replace the retired LaDainian Tomlinson, who had 60 targets last season. Powell is a steal with a late-round pick in PPR leagues, and he could also see an increase in carries if Greene struggles in his first season as a featured rusher.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons
2011 targets: 27
2012 target projections: 64
Quick catch: Giving Rodgers 64 targets might be low because the Falcons are becoming a passing team, and Rodgers will definitely be on the field more in those situations compared to Michael Turner. Rodgers has the chance to play a role like Darren Sproles, but he won't reach Sproles' production or target total (107). Still, he's someone to target in all PPR leagues.

Running backs trending down

Roy Helu, Redskins
2011 targets: 60
2012 target projections: 38
Quick catch: Helu was a surprise PPR option last year with 49 catches for 379 yards and one touchdown. But he's had a miserable preseason, battled Achilles injuries and has been passed on the depth chart by Evan Royster and possibly Tim Hightower and rookie Alfred Morris. Helu could still play on passing downs, but his receiving stats will definitely decline.

Chris Johnson, Titans
2011 targets: 79
2012 target projections: 61
Quick catch: Johnson was No. 3 in targets for running backs last year, and he had a career-high in catches with 57 for 418 yards. But Johnson said he expects his receiving stats to decline, and the Titans have used Javon Ringer more on passing downs during the preseason. Johnson will still be heavily involved in all aspects, but his receiving stats will go down.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
2011 targets: 64
2012 target projections: 45
Quick catch: Put aside Jones-Drew's holdout for a minute and focus on his declining receiving stats. He used to be a featured option in the passing game with 115 catches from 2008-09. In his past two seasons he has just 77 catches. The additions of Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon will impact Jones-Drew, and he won't be needed as much as a receiver.

Steven Jackson, Rams
2011 targets: 58
2012 target projections: 45
Quick catch: The Rams will lean on Jackson in all aspects, but one area where they will try to give him a rest is on passing downs, especially with the addition of rookie Isaiah Pead. Jackson's receptions have declined each of the past three years from 51 in 2009 to 46 in 2010 to 41 last year. He's still a candidate for 1,500 total yards, but he will likely catch about 35 passes.

Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
2011 targets: 60
2012 target projections: 49
Quick catch: Stewart was tied for No. 10 in targets with Helu and Tomlinson, but now he has to share targets with Tolbert. We still expect Stewart to be the best receiving option in the backfield for the Panthers, but Tolbert will cut into some of his catches, which were 47 for 413 yards and a touchdown. He remains a No. 3 running back in PPR leagues.

Tight ends trending up

Owen Daniels, Texans
2011 targets: 84
2012 target projections: 107
Quick catch: No one missed Matt Schaub (foot) more than Daniels last year. Through the first 10 games of the season in 2011, Daniels had at least six Fantasy points in six games. Once Schaub went down, Daniels had just one game with more than three points. If Daniels had maintained his Fantasy point average with Schaub, which was 6.2 per week, for the entire season he would have finished as a Top 12 tight end in standard leagues.

Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
2011 targets: 92
2012 target projections: 112
Quick catch: Gresham had the same amount of targets as Jermichael Finley in 2011, and Finley is being drafted in Round 6 while Gresham is going in Round 10. Don't be surprised if their production is similar, and Gresham should see a tremendous boost in production as the No. 2 option in the passing game behind Green.

Dustin Keller, Jets
2011 targets: 115
2012 target projections: 128
Quick catch: Keller was actually the No. 7 tight end in targets, and he should improve this year. The Jets have a lack of talent in their receiving corps, and Keller is the second-best option in their passing game behind Santonio Holmes. Keller can easily be Top 3 in targets at his position, and he is looking like a sleeper in 2012 based on his Average Draft Position.

Lance Kendricks, Rams
2011 targets: 57
2012 target projections: 81
Quick catch: Kendricks only had three games with at least six targets in 2011, but he should be more involved this season. The Rams need help in their receiving corps, and Kendricks should benefit with a full offseason working with Sam Bradford. Put him on your sleeper list as a No. 2 tight end with upside.

Greg Olsen, Panthers
2011 targets: 89
2012 target projections: 102
Quick catch: Olsen had to share targets with Jeremy Shockey (62 last year), and the majority of that production will now go to Olsen. He's not going to get 151 targets, but he should easily get over 100. Olsen has Top 10 potential and should improve on what turned out to be a disappointing season in 2011.

Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
2011 targets: 39
2012 target projections: 71
Quick catch: Rudolph is going from a secondary option on offense last season to a featured weapon for Christian Ponder. He might not approach elite tight end range, but he's a steal as a No. 2 tight end with a late-round pick. Rudolph will be the second-best weapon in the passing game for the Vikings behind Percy Harvin.

Tight ends trending down

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Brent Celek, Eagles
2011 targets: 98
2012 target projections: 86
Quick catch:Celek finished No. 9 in targets last year among tight ends but caught just 63.3 percent of his targets, which was third worst among the Top 10 behind Kellen Winslow (63 percent) and Keller (56.5). A happy DeSean Jackson and a healthy Jeremy Maclin will lower Celek's production.

Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
2011 targets: 116
2012 target projections: 92
Quick catch: Gonzalez will suffer with the development of Jones. When Jones went off in the final four games of the season -- 20 catches for 393 yards and six touchdowns – Gonzalez disappeared. He had just 14 catches for 145 yards and no touchdowns on 23 targets over that span.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2011 targets: 124
2012 target projections: 112
Quick catch: Gronkowski's production will decline with the addition of Lloyd, but he will still post quality stats. He might not get 90 catches, 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, but Gronkowski caught 72.6 percent of his targets, which trailed only Antonio Gates among tight ends with at least 50 receptions.

Touches

Running backs trending up

Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
2011 touches: 205 (171 carries, 34 catches)
2012 touches: 315 (272 carries, 43 catches)
Quick touch: Brandon Jacobs had 167 touches last year (152 carries, 15 catches), and the majority of those touches should go to Bradshaw. Even though David Wilson will see plenty of playing time, we could definitely see Bradshaw becoming a significant workhorse for the Giants this season.

Mark Ingram, Saints
2011 touches: 133 (122 carries, 11 catches)
2012 touches: 169 (155 carries, 14 catches)
Quick touch: Ingram led the Saints in carries last year despite playing in just 10 games. He should again lead New Orleans in carries as long as he's healthy, and I probably have him projected a little low at 169 touches. Ingram could easily reach double digits in touchdowns this year, and he's looking like a great sleeper with a mid-round pick.

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
2011 touches: 189 (163 carries, 26 catches)
2012 touches: 313 (271 carries, 42 catches)
Quick touch: Murray is looking like a workhorse running back, and he should be the best offensive player in Dallas this season. He's my No. 6 running back coming into the year, and he should be a beast. Murray had five games with at least 20 carries last season in 13 games played, and he should average 20 touches a game this season.

Stevan Ridley, Patriots
2011 touches: 90 (87 carries, three catches)
2012 touches: 256 (228 carries, 28 catches)
Quick touch: BenJarvus Green-Ellis led the Patriots with 190 touches last year (181 carries, nine catches), and the majority of those touches will go to Ridley even with Shane Vereen playing a prominent role. Ridley is a better version of Green-Ellis, and he could easily reach 1,200 total yards and double digits in touchdowns this season.

Kevin Smith, Lions
2011 touches: 94 (72 carries, 22 catches)
2012 touches: 208 (176 carries, 32 catches
Quick touch: Smith has the chance to be the best running back for the Lions this year with Mikel Leshoure suspended for the first two games and struggling to stay healthy and Jahvid Best likely starting the season on the PUP list with his concussion woes. Smith has to stay healthy himself, but he's a great No. 3 running back with a mid-round pick.

Running backs trending down

Frank Gore, 49ers
2011 touches: 299 (282 carries, 17 catches)
2012 touches: 266 (243 carries, 23 catches)
Quick touch: The additions of Brandon Jacobs and LaMichael James and the presence of Kendall Hunter will hurt Gore this year. We hope he does better as a receiver out of the backfield, but his carries will decline, as will his production in the red zone. He looks more like a low-end No. 2 Fantasy rusher this season than a No. 1 option like he has been in years past.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
2011 touches: 386 (343 carries, 43 catches)
2012 touches: 324 (291 carries, 33 catches)
Quick touch: Even if Jones-Drew shows up for Week 1 he is not guaranteed to be the starter right away. The new coaching staff under Mike Mularkey has said Rashad Jennings could remain heavily involved, and Jones-Drew could take a while to see workhorse-like touches. We're not anticipating a big year for Jones-Drew in 2012.

Willis McGahee, Broncos
2011 touches: 261 (249 carries, 12 catches)
2012 touches: 231 (213 carries, 18 catches)
Quick touch: We anticipate McGahee's receptions going up with the addition of Manning, but his carries should decline because A) the Broncos will throw more and B) Denver should lean on rookie Ronnie Hillman. McGahee is still worth drafting as a low-end No. 2 running back, but he won't be an every-week starter in the majority of leagues.

Michael Turner, Falcons
2011 touches: 318 (301 carries, 17 catches)
2012 touches: 301 (281 carries, 20 catches)
Quick touch: Turner could have a career season in catches this year with the new up-tempo passing game expected for the Falcons, but his carries will decline. Jacquizz Rodgers will take touches away from Turner, and Atlanta should throw the ball at a higher rate. We view Turner as a No. 2 running back this season.

Beanie Wells, Cardinals
2011 touches: 255 (245 carries, 10 catches)
2012 touches: 217 (200 carries, 17 catches)
Quick touch: The return of Ryan Williams from last year's knee injury will cut into Wells' touches, and Wells also has to prove he's 100 percent as well. He could become a good value pick if he falls on Draft Day, but we would rather have Williams based on upside. Still, Wells could be a good No. 4 Fantasy rusher if you get him in Round 6 or later.

Red-zone touches

Running backs trending up

Peyton Hillis, Chiefs
2011 red-zone touches: 21 (19 carries, two catches)
2012 red-zone touches: 39 (31 carries, eight catches)
Quick carry: Hillis is going to be the complementary running back to Jamaal Charles, but he will work at the goal line in what should be a solid rushing attack. Hillis shapes up as an excellent sleeper with a mid-round pick, and he might present better value than Charles since you can draft him later with Charles being selected by Round 3.

Mark Ingram, Saints
2011 red-zone touches: 24 (23 carries, one catch)
2012 red-zone touches: 37 (34 carries, three catches)
Quick carry: Darren Sproles was the most active running back in the red zone for the Saints last year with 13 carries and 16 catches, but Ingram should take over that role now that he's healthy. Ingram has double digit-touchdown potential, and he's worth a mid-round pick in all leagues.

Steven Jackson, Rams
2011 red-zone touches: 19 (17 carries, two catches)
2012 red-zone touches: 40 (36 carries, four catches)
Quick carry: We're hoping to see Jackson reach these projected totals, and under coach Jeff Fisher he should be used more in the red zone. Fisher has been able to get tremendous production out of Eddie George and Chris Johnson with the Titans, and he should have another good year from Jackson in 2012 before he starts to break down.

Chris Johnson, Titans
2011 red-zone touches: 23 (18 carries, five catches)
2012 red-zone touches: 34 (27 carries, seven catches)
Quick carry: Johnson only scored three red-zone touchdowns last year, but he should rebound this season and play more like the running back we saw score 25 rushing touchdowns from 2009-10. The Titans are going to be an explosive offense this year with Johnson leading the way, including with his production in the red zone.

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
2011 red-zone touches: 18 (17 carries, one catch)
2012 red-zone touches: 48 (40 carries, eight catches)
Quick carry: Felix Jones might take some carries away from Murray, but no one can take Murray off the field in the red zone. He had just one red-zone touchdown last year, but he should approach five or six this season in what will be a breakout campaign. We love Murray this season as a Top 10 Fantasy running back.

Running backs trending down

Frank Gore, 49ers
2011 red-zone touches: 52 (51 carries, one catch)
2012 red-zone touches: 27 (25 carries, two catches)
Quick carry: The addition of Jacobs will limit what Gore will do in the red zone. He had seven red-zone rushing touchdowns last year, and most of that production should go to Jacobs now. Jacobs also had seven red-zone rushing touchdowns last year on 24 carries, and he should take over goal-line duties in San Francisco this season.

Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks
2011 red-zone touches: 44 (40 carries, four catches)
2012 red-zone touches: 32 (30 carries, two catches)
Quick carry: Lynch finished tied for second last year with Green-Ellis and Adrian Peterson with 11 red-zone rushing touchdowns, three behind LeSean McCoy. Lynch will still lead the Seahawks in red-zone touches and should remain successful inside the 20. But the addition of rookie Robert Turbin could limit some of Lynch's production near the goal line.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals
2011 red-zone touches: 41 (39 carries, two catches)
2012 red-zone touches: 32 (31 carries, one catch)
Quick carry: Green-Ellis should still be successful near the goal line as he goes from the Patriots to the Bengals. But he won't have as many opportunities since New England's offense is clearly more dominant than Cincinnati's. I'm expecting Green-Ellis to go from 11 red-zone rushing touchdowns to closer to six this year, which will limit his effectiveness. He's more of a No. 3 Fantasy running back this season.

Shonn Greene, Jets
2011 red-zone touches: 42 (41 carries, one catch)
2012 red-zone touches: 35 (34 carries, one catch)
Quick carry: As you can see, we're not expecting a steep drop-off for Green in his red-zone workload, but the addition of Tim Tebow should cut into Greene's touches inside the 20. The Jets will likely lean on Tebow near the goal line since he scored six rushing touchdowns in 2011, which was as many as Greene had as well. We consider Greene a No. 2 Fantasy running back, but Tebow will hurt his production.

Matt Forte, Bears
2011 red-zone touches: 28 (23 carries, five catches)
2012 red-zone touches: 24 (22 carries, two catches)
Quick carry: The addition of Michael Bush will hurt Forte's production in the red zone. Bush had eight red-zone touchdowns last year with the Raiders, and Forte has never been a force scoring touchdowns with eight rushing touchdowns his career high as a rookie in 2008. Bush should be successful at the goal line, and Forte's Fantasy value will be carried by his total yards.

Red-zone targets

Wide receivers trending up

Dez Bryant, Cowboys
2011 red-zone targets: 13
2012 red-zone targets: 18
Quick catch: Bryant finished tied with Austin and behind Witten (15) in red-zone targets last year, which is a shame. He has the size and skill to be a force in the red zone, and we hope Tony Romo uses him more inside the 20-yard line. He had four red-zone touchdowns last year but could easily reach eight. Laurent Robinson led the Cowboys with eight red-zone touchdowns last year.

Eric Decker, Broncos
2011 red-zone targets: 10
2012 red-zone targets: 17
Quick catch: As we've noted, Manning's addition is going to help Denver's receivers tremendously, and we can see Decker being a significant factor in the red zone. In the third preseason game against the 49ers, Decker had two red-zone touchdowns from Manning, which were Manning's first two touchdowns with the Broncos.

Pierre Garcon, Redskins
2011 red-zone targets: 16
2012 red-zone targets: 20
Quick catch: Jabar Gaffney led the Redskins in red-zone targets last year with 18, and Santana Moss had 13. We can see Garcon taking the majority of those targets, and he should be a steady weapon for Robert Griffin III all over the field. We like Garcon as a solid No. 3 Fantasy receiver, and this could be the best season of his career.

Brandon Lloyd, Patriots
2011 red-zone targets: 13
2012 red-zone targets: 17
Quick catch: Gronkowski led the Patriots with 26 red-zone targets last year, and Welker was second with 20. Lloyd is going to cut into that significantly, and last season he didn't play in great passing attacks in Denver and St. Louis by comparison to New England. He had three red-zone touchdowns last year and could double that total in 2012.

Reggie Wayne, Colts
2011 red-zone targets: 14
2012 red-zone targets: 19
Quick catch: Wayne's stats should improve with the addition of Luck, and he should also pick up some of the red-zone targets from Garcon. Wayne had just three red-zone touchdowns in 2011, and he could easily double that since he should become Luck's best weapon this season. Wayne looks like an excellent No. 3 Fantasy receiver this year.

Wide receivers trending down

Anquan Boldin, Ravens
2011 red-zone targets: 12
2012 red-zone targets: 8
Quick catch: Torrey Smith had just eight red-zone targets last year, and the two should flip-flop with their targets this season. Boldin will remain a quality weapon for Joe Flacco this year, but Smith should ascend to the No. 1 receiver role all over the field. Boldin only managed one red-zone touchdown last year, so his targets were somewhat wasted.

Nate Burleson, Lions
2011 red-zone targets: 17
2012 red-zone targets: seven
Quick catch: There should be a bump in red-zone targets for Young and Pettigrew, and Johnson should continue to be a beast inside the 20. Burleson should be the one to suffer, especially since he managed just two red-zone touchdowns last year. His best asset is down-field passes and not being used in the red zone.

Percy Harvin, Vikings
2011 red-zone targets: 18
2012 red-zone targets: 14
Quick catch: Harvin managed just two receiving red-zone touchdowns last year (he scored two rushing touchdowns in the red zone), but his targets inside the 20 should decline with the addition of Jerome Simpson and the improvement from Rudolph. He is still a standout No. 2 Fantasy receiver worth taking in Round 4, but don't count on his red-zone production to be the reason for his success.

Wes Welker, Patriots
2011 red-zone targets: 20
2012 red-zone targets: 15
Quick catch: The last time Welker played for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in 2008, and he scored just three touchdowns. That doesn't bode well for much red-zone production, and last season he scored six touchdowns in the red zone. Again, Welker is not going to disappear in the offense by any stretch, but he could lose some red-zone targets.

Roddy White, Falcons
2011 red-zone targets: 26
2012 red-zone targets: 18
Quick catch: In the third preseason game at Miami, White had one catch for 20 yards, which was a touchdown. He's not going to disappear with the emergence of Jones, but his targets will decline, including in the red zone. He had seven red-zone touchdowns last year, and that number will likely be around five this season.

Tight ends trending up

Fred Davis, Redskins
2011 red-zone targets: eight
2012 red-zone targets: 15
Quick catch: The Redskins won't be a successful team, and Griffin won't be a successful quarterback, if he doesn't use Davis more in the red zone. He had seven catches for 35 yards and three touchdowns inside the 20, and we can see him scoring about five red-zone touchdowns this year in what should be a breakout campaign.

Vernon Davis, 49ers
2011 red-zone targets: eight
2012 red-zone targets: 17
Quick catch: It's a shame Davis isn't used more in the red zone because he scored on half of his targets last year while also chipping in six catches for 53 yards. That shows you that if Davis had the same amount of red-zone targets as Gronkowski (26) he could have challenged for the No. 1 tight end spot last year.

Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
2011 red-zone targets: 14
2012 red-zone targets: 18
Quick catch: Gresham finished with five red-zone touchdowns last year, which was one fewer than Aaron Hernandez on 10 fewer targets. Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has said he wants to use Gresham like the Patriots do with their tight ends, and more opportunities in the red zone would be a great start to help Gresham in his breakout campaign.

Greg Olsen, Panthers
2011 red-zone targets: 11
2012 red-zone targets: 18
Quick catch: We'll take Shockey's seven red-zone targets last year and give them all to Olsen. The two combined for seven red-zone touchdowns last year, and we hope Olsen can hit that number as well. He's a great sleeper on Draft Day, and we like Olsen as a low-end No. 1 option in all leagues.

Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
2011 red-zone targets: 22
2012 red-zone targets: 25
Quick catch: Pettigrew was No. 4 in red-zone targets last year, but he could emerge as the most-targeted tight end in the red zone this season if the Lions focus more on him than Tony Scheffler, who had 13 red-zone targets in 2011. The two combined for 10 red-zone touchdowns last year, and we'd like to see the majority of that production go to Pettigrew since he's the only one worth starting for Fantasy owners.

Tight ends trending down

Brent Celek, Eagles
2011 red-zone targets: 17
2012 red-zone targets: 11
Quick catch: Celek's red-zone production will decline with Jackson and Maclin taking away targets. Michael Vick also should continue to run in the red zone, and McCoy is a star inside the 20. Celek could still match his red-zone stats from last year with four touchdowns, but he likely won't see as many targets.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
2011 red-zone targets: 26
2012 red-zone targets: 21
Quick catch: Gronkowski will remain Brady's best target in the red zone, but the addition of Lloyd will limit his targets inside the 20. He had 18 catches for 183 yards and 12 touchdowns in the red zone last year, but unfortunately those stats will decline a little. He still should be the No. 1 Fantasy tight end this year. By comparison, Jimmy Graham had eight red-zone touchdowns on the same amount of targets.

Tony Gonzalez, Falcons
2011 red-zone targets: 16
2012 red-zone targets: 11
Quick catch: The Falcons will still rely on Gonzalez quite a bit in the red zone this season, but he had six touchdowns last year. Look for Jones to take away some of that production, and Gonzalez won't be the same threat he's been for the majority of his career. He looks like more of a No. 2 Fantasy option than a starter in 2011.

Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
2011 red-zone targets: 13
2012 red-zone targets: 9
Quick catch: Lewis went from 10 touchdowns in 2010 to none last year. Of his 13 red-zone targets in 2011 he had just two catches. The additions of Blackmon and Robinson will hurt Lewis in all aspects, and while he should score more touchdowns than he did last season, it won't be by much.

Jason Witten, Cowboys
2011 red-zone targets: 15
2012 red-zone targets: 10
Quick catch: Coming into the season injured with the spleen problem won't help his overall numbers, and neither will the improvement of Bryant and the running game. Witten had three red-zone touchdowns last season, and he would be lucky to reach that total again this year given the way his season is starting.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Raiders' Latavius Murray 'feeling better every day'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:54 pm ET) Raiders running back Latavius Murray is "feeling better every day," according to CSN.

Murray was able to return to practice on Wednesday, but has not been cleared to return from his concussion just yet. Despite that, Murray seems optimistic about his status. "I’ve felt fine, and I’m feeling better each day," Murray said. "With these kind of things you have to take it one day at a time and follow the right procedures." Murray was on his way to a huge game before leaving with the injury Week 12. 


Seahawks' Cooper Helfet to miss Thursday's game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:46 pm ET) Seahawks tight end Cooper Helfet will miss Thursday's game against the 49ers.

Helfet is dealing with an ankle injury. He was not able to take part in practice during the week, and is already listed as out.


Vikings OL Phil Loadholt expects to be ready for camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:20 pm ET) Vikings offensive lineman Phil Loadholt expects to be ready for training camp.

Loadholt will have season-ending surgery on a torn pectoral muscle soon. The team placed him on IR, meaning he won't be back this season. 


Ravens sign Emmanuel Ogbuehi to practice squad
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:40 pm ET) The Ravens have signed tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi to the practice squad on Wednesday.

Ogbuehi had been on the practice squad earlier in the season, but was cut in September. The team placed tight end Konrad Reuland on the practice squad injured list, making room for Ogbuehi to return. 


Rams wideout Damian Williams clears waivers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:31 pm ET) Rams wideout Damian Williams cleared waivers on Wednesday.

Williams was released by the club on Tuesday, and was not picked up by a club on waivers. He's now free to sign with any team. 


Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch listed as probable
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:58 pm ET) Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is listed as probable heading into Thursday's game against the 49ers.

Lynch has been dealing with a back injury. He was limited in practices on Monday and Tuesday, but was able to put in a full practice on Wednesday. He's been able to play through the injury all season. 


Colts' Vontae Davis spotted in a walking boot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:52 pm ET) Colts corner Vontae Davis has been using a walking boot the past couple days, according to ESPN.

Davis injured his foot last Sunday, but is expected to play against Washington this week. Coach Chuck Pagano said, "[Davis is] too tough. It's a critical time [of the season that] he can't miss." Davis did not participate in practice on Wednesday. 


Raiders RB Latavius Murray has not been cleared to play yet
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:49 pm ET) Raiders running back Latavius Murray may have returned to practice on Wednesday, but he hasn't been cleared to play on Sunday just yet, according to CSN.

Murray is dealing with a concussion. While he appears to have made progress with the injury, he still has to pass medical tests before he's formally cleared to play. Murray was on his way to a huge game Week 12 before exiting with the injury. Murray was listed as a limited participant in practice on Wednesday.


Jimmy Staten rejoins Seahawks
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:42 pm ET) The Seahawks have re-signed defensive end Jimmy Staten to the practice squad, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Staten had been on the team's practice squad throughout most of the year, but was cut in late November to make room for another player. The team decided to bring Staten back just a few days later. 


Saints RB Khiry Robinson tweets he's 'back in action'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Saints running back Khiry Robinson, who has been sidelined the last five games with a forearm injury, has indicated that he's on the brink of returning, per the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Robinson was listed as out of practice Wednesday, but he tweeted that he's "back in action." If he indeed can play Sunday in Pittsburgh, the team will have its full complement of running backs for the first time in more than a month.


 
 
 
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