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Tricks of the trends after Week 1

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Here is our weekly 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.

Targets

Reggie Wayne has to be grinning from ear to ear now that Curtis "Finger" Painter is gone and Andrew Luck is in at quarterback for the Colts. No player in the NFL saw more targets in the season opener than Wayne, who was the intended receiver on 18 passes from Luck against the Chicago Bears. He caught nine of them -- second most in the league behind only running back Darren McFadden --- for 135 yards, and it is clear that with Luck in town, Wayne will be a great PPR receiver. He has a good shot to average 10 targets per game for the year and if that happens, he will be amongst the most consistent yardage producers on a weekly basis.

• I'd say you'd have to tip your cap to Tony Romo (or shake your head at the Giants secondary) in Week 1 as all three of his receivers were incredibly efficient. Kevin Ogletree led the way at 10.4 yards and 2.1 points per target. Miles Austin caught all four of his targets for 73 yards and a score, which equates to 18.3 yards and 3.3 points per target. Finally, Dez Bryant checked in at a solid 17 yards and 1.7 points per target. I understand why people love Ogletree, but keep in mind that last year in this role, Laurent Robinson averaged just 5.7 targets per game and was second in the NFL in touchdown percentage, points per target and was tops in red zone touchdown rate. Romo is great, but that kind of efficiency is unlikely once again from a third receiver in the Dallas offense, so don't go crazy with KO.

• My man Julio Jones started 2012 right where left off at the end of last season, catching six of his nine targets for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He now has three 100-yard games and three multiple touchdown games in his last five regular season starts and has not been below 76 yards receiving or been held without a touchdown in that span.

• No one was more efficient than Pierre Garcon in Week 1 as he caught all four of his targets for 108 yards and a touchdown. Not a bad quarter of work for the current league leader in yards (27.3) and Fantasy points (4.3) per target, as he was forced to leave the game early with a foot injury.

• I was worried about Vincent Jackson's ability to maintain his extreme efficiency following his move to Tampa Bay. In San Diego, Jackson averaged over 17 yards per catch and 10 yards per target for his career, which are both elite numbers. In Week 1, Jackson saw a very healthy 10 targets, but posted a poor 11.8 yards per catch and just 4.8 yards per target. It is only one week and of course some long bombs can cure that in a hurry, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on.

• With his five carries and eight targets, Percy Harvin was the fourth-most involved receiver in Week 1. Last year, he was second in that category once Christian Ponder took over, so there is a good chance this a trend that will continue all year long, which is music to Harvin's owner's ears. He also averaged a very healthy 10.5 yards per target and caught 75 percent of his targets in what will be a banner year if he stays healthy. It should also be noted that his 11 touches were more than any other wide receiver this week as well.

Wes Welker has had exactly one game with five or fewer targets in each of the last four seasons. That's it. One game with five or fewer and it has never happened this early in the season. In fact, over the last four years, Welker has averaged 8.5 catches and 12.25 targets per game in Week 1. If we see another low-target game in the near future it will definitely be time to worry about Wesley.

• Some lesser known or underappreciated receivers who need to be on your radar after seeing at least nine targets in Week 1: Randall Cobb (used as a third down back and will be a matchup nightmare), Danny Amendola, Michael Crabtree, Dexter McCluster, Andrew Hawkins and Sidney Rice.

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• Some incredibly efficient receivers from Week 1 to keep an eye on (yards per target/points per target): Brandon LaFell (13/2.5), James Jones (13.5/2.35), Stephen Hill (14.8/3.48) and Malcom Floyd (11/2.1).

Dennis Pitta made quite the impression on Monday night as he saw a team high nine targets and caught five of them for 73 yards and a touchdown. He was often flexed out wide for the Ravens and it should be noted that Pitta now has three touchdowns and double digit Fantasy points in his last four games, including the playoff run of 2011.

• My biggest concern with Jermaine Gresham was his lack of top end speed, which made his yards per target and yards per catch averages among the worst starting tight ends headed into 2012. Well, in Week 1, his 3.8 yards per target average was dead last among the 30 most targeted tight ends. He has to get better if he wants to break out and the matchup with the Browns in Week 2 should provide that opportunity.

• Run DMC may need to change his name to catch DMC. He was targeted an NFL high 18 times in Week 1 and caught 13 of them for 86 yards. No other two running backs totaled more than 12 catches combined and the top two yardage producers (Chris Johnson and Reggie Bush) after DMC had just 93 yards total. In fact, Darren McFadden had double the targets of LeSean McCoy, who was second at the position with nine.

Target Leaders by position for week 1: Wide receiver: Reggie Wayne (18), Brandon Marshall (15), Jeremy Maclin (14), and many tied at 11; Tight end: Jermichael Finley (11), Coby Fleener, Jimmy Graham and Brandon Pettigrew (10); Running back: Darren McFadden (18) and LeSean McCoy (9)

Red Zone

Matt Ryan sure was nice in Week 1, producing a league high 37 points against the Kansas City Chiefs. He did much of that damage in the Red Zone where he produced a league high four touchdowns, one of which was a five-yard scamper. The Falcons are going to be able to score from anywhere on the field and if Ryan can stay dominant inside the 20-yard line, he will absolutely have 40-touchdown potential.

• It sure looks like Michael Turner will need to score more often than not to have good Fantasy value this year. In Week 1, he saw five red zone opportunities, which was fifth-most in the league, but failed to punch in any touchdowns. He will have to make the most of these scoring chances to be counted on as a weekly play.

• Seven backs scored two red zone touchdowns in Week 1 and they are Arian Foster (on a league high seven red zone opportunities), Adrian Peterson (four), Ray Rice (four), Alfred Morris (four), Kevin Smith (three) and goal line vulture extraordinaire Michael Bush (four).

• In the more good news for Stevan Ridley department: In Week 1, Ridley had six red zone chances (second most) and converted one into a touchdown. Meanwhile, quarterback Tom Brady only attempted three red zone passes in Week 1.

• In my shameless preseason gushing over Julio Jones, I wrote the following: "I do want to see Jones become more involved in the red zone, and if he does, look out Calvin! Last year, Jones only scored two of his eight touchdowns inside the 20 and his nine red zone targets paled in comparison to the league high 30 that teammate Roddy White received." Well if Week 1 is any indication, Calvin should be on notice. Jones saw three red zone targets (same as White) and turned two of them into touchdowns, meaning his next score from inside the 20 will set a new career high.

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Russell Wilson clearly trusted Sidney Rice in scoring situations as he targeted his big receiver a league high four times in Week 1. They connected for a score as well and if Rice can stay healthy, he will be a solid No. 3 receiver if Wilson continues to force him the ball.

Dennis Pitta is a sleeper on the rise after Week 1. He saw three red zone targets, second at his position, and converted one of them into a touchdown. Pitta has now scored a red zone touchdown in three of his last four games and four of his last six, including the playoff run of 2011. Clearly Joe Flacco trusts him in money situations and with the Ravens opening things up, Pitta is one to watch.

Goal Line

• I don't know if this means that the Steelers have no confidence in their running game, but I do find it odd that Ben Roethlisberger threw seven passes inside the five yard line in Week 1, while the team attempted only one rush.

Alfred Morris certainly did his part to keep his job in Week 1 and at the goal line it was no different. Morris punched in both of his carries up close for a perfect 100 percent scoring rate after the season opener.

• Something to keep an eye on in Buffalo is that Tashard Choice saw two goal line carries in Week 1 while C.J. Spiller saw none. That could have been part of the blowout loss or it could be a vulture situation to watch.

Heath Miller saw three goal line targets in the season opener, most in the NFL, and converted one of them into a touchdown. Keep an eye on his involvement going forward, because he is also tops at the tight end position with four targets after Week 1.

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

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Player News
Bills move Corey Graham to safety
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:01 am ET) The Bills have moved cornerback Corey Graham to safety, the Buffalo News reports.

Graham said that he and the team have discussed the move all offseason and decided to give the position change a try on Tuesday when the team held its first workout of OTAs.

"He’s got that unique ability where he can do both things," coach Rex Ryan said. "So let’s see what we have out there. And this is no slam on Duke or on Rambo or on Meeks or any of those guys, but this is us doing what’s best for the team. And if that means we feel good about [Graham] playing safety, then that’s where he’ll be."

Graham is enthusiastic about playing the safety position full-time.

"I want to try to really learn it and see where it goes, see how much my grasp is, see how I’m playing at it, see where it can take me," he said. "I look forward to it. It’s a challenge for me, but I’m actually very excited about it."

Graham recorded 84 total tackles last season, his first in Buffalo, while intercepting two passes.


Vikings' Bridgewater 'extremely comfortable' with leadership role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is embracing his role as leader of the offense, the Star Tribune reports.

"I’m a young guy still on the team, but guys are pushing me forward to say something in the huddle, or break the team down, or break the offense down," Bridgewater said. "That just gives you that confidence in yourself, confidence in your leadership and I’ve been extremely comfortable doing that so far."

Coach Mike Zimmer is satsfied with the work Bridgewater has done during the offseason.

"It’s hard to never not be pleased with Teddy because he’s such a hard worker," Zimmer said. "We wanted him to get bigger and stronger; he looks a little bit bigger to me. He’s always worked real hard. The leadership things are starting to come better. I think he’s been doing a good job the two days we’ve been out here against the defense."

Bridgewater made 12 starts in his rookie season and played 13 games in all, racking up 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while completing 64.4 percent of his passes.


Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders hoping to reach 1,000 yards
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders believes the new offensive scheme in Denver will effect his numbers, accoridng to the team's website.

Sanders is working with new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and coach Gary Kubiak to install the team's new offense and noted it's very different from last year's spread attack.

"You talk about going from a no-huddle offense to an offense that's huddling up, to an offense that is predicated off running a football and then throwing it. It's different," Sanders said. 

"It's a totally different set up, but I tell you what, the more and more I'm in it," said Sanders. "Because we can get the run game going and just use my vertical speed on cross routes and all these different combinations of routes is based off the play action, then I think the offense will be successful with Peyton Manning at the helm."

Sanders, who totaled 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014, doesn't think he'll accomplish the same numbers.

"Of course obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses, well I'm praying that it is, but obviously it's not going to be one of those offenses where you catch it and you're going to have two receivers catching over 100 passes," said Sanders. "Hopefully, my goal is really to try to get a 1,000 yards to just help this team win ball games."


Cowboys rookie La'el Collins taking reps at RT in OTAs
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Cowboys rookie offensive lineman La'el Collins started offseason team activities on Wednesday taking reps at right tackle, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Collins, who was signed as an undrafted free agent, could also see time at left guard. But the rookie is taking his first reps with the team at right tackle with Darrion Weems while Doug Free recovers from ankle surgery.

"We think he has the physical ability to play a couple of different spots," coach Jason Garrett said. "He was a tackle for most of his career in college but did play guard. We see him as a guy who can maybe do both of those things as he goes.

"The big thing for him is to try to get him acclimated as quickly as we can. So right now he's going to play right tackle for us. He and Darrion Weems are competing at that spot in Doug Free's absence and we'll just see how that unfolds." 


Vikings' Adrian Peterson on absence from OTAs: 'It's business'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said in a statement on Wednesday that his absence from OTAs has "nothing to do with wanting to be traded," ESPN reports.

"The reason I'm not attending OTAs has nothing to do with wanting to be traded. It's about securing my future with the Vikings. It's business, not personal and I understand that firsthand. Go Vikings."

It was reported earlier Wednesday that coach Mike Zimmer said that Peterson could "either play for us or not play." The running back has expressed frustration with team management for not showing him support during his legal case for child abuse.


Report: Falcons' Dezmen Southward undergoes knee surgery
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Falcons defensive backs Dezmen Southward underwent a minor-knee operation Wednesday, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Southward did not attend Tuesday's OTA and it is not known how long he'll be sidelined.


Julius Thomas trying to fit into Jaguars' offense
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas said after Wednesday's organized team activity that he intends to make it work with quarterback Blake Bortles, reports The Florida Times-Union.

"There is no 'Here's me coming in, and Blake's going to get on my page.' I'm going to be on Blake's page," Thomas said. "Whatever he expects, that's what I am going to do. He's the quarterback. He's the one in control of that huddle, and I like catching passes so I will make sure I do exactly what he wants."

With Thomas entering his first season with the Jaguars, he said it will take time to develop a rapport with Bortles.

"I think that getting good chemistry with a quarterback probably takes a couple of thousand passes," Thomas said.


Cowboys RB Darren McFadden not concerned with playing time
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) With the Cowboys just beginning their organized team activities this week, running back Darren McFadden said he just wants to concentrate on becoming familiar with the team, reports the team's official website.

"For me, I'm just going out there grinding," he said. "However the coaches put me out there – whether it's first team or second team. When it comes time for them to make a decision, it's totally up to them. I'm just trying to get that playbook down and take advantage of this opportunity."

McFadden is competing with Joseph Randle to be the first-team running back, and he said he just wants to work hard and not worry about how many repetitions he's receiving with the first team.

"Once you've been in a place so long like Oakland, you can get set in your ways," McFadden said Wednesday, after his second OTA practice with the Cowboys. "Coming out here and being around guys that work so hard, it just brings out the best in you. It's something I look forward to."


Chiefs' Mike Catapano on his health: I feel better than ever
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) After missing the entire 2014 season with a gastrointestinal virus, Chiefs defensive end Mike Catapano was able to participate in the team's OTA on Wednesday, reports The Kansas City Star.

"Every time I step on the field now it's with purpose and with extra vigor that I never really had," Catapano said. "It feels great. I feel better than ever."

Catapano played in 15 games during his rookie season in 2013 and he totaled four tackles and one sack. He said he's ready to surpass that in 2015.

"I'm ready to show that I offer a lot to this team. I'm ready to step up in big situations and starting situations," Catapano said. "I just want to keep getting better every day… and play to the best of my abilities."


Broncos' Manning, Sanders keeping up with Thomas during holdout
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/27/2015) Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is holding out of offseason workouts while he continues to negotiate a long-term deal with the team, but teammates Emmanuel Sanders and Peyton Manning have been keeping up with the star receiver, the Denver Post reports.

"One thing a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re playing on a one-year deal, there’s a lot of things going through your head," Sanders said. "As much as you guys want to say, ‘Don’t think about it,' of course it’s going to cross your mind because you’re talking about a lot of money at stake. When you’re playing these one-year deals, it’s a lot of stress on you. No matter how much you don’t want it to be, it’s going to happen. We’re all human."

Manning would like to have Thomas in workouts but understands the business aspects of his decision.

"I keep up with Demaryius. He’s my buddy," Manning said. "They got that business side of it to work out, but he’s been a great teammate to me, been a great friend to me since I’ve been here in Denver, so I keep up with him. Obviously want him to get back here as soon as possible, but we want what’s best for him, and he certainly deserves what’s best for him."

Thomas has started 16 games for three straight season, topping 90 receptions, 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns in each.


 
 
 
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