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Tricks of the trends after Week 2

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Here is a deep dive behind some of the key statistics (targets, red zone and goal line) for Fantasy Football success to help give you a little edge in your weekly quest for victory.

Larry Fitzgerald is off to a remarkably slow start in 2012 despite being tied for 19th among all receivers with 16 targets. Fitz has only five catches for 67 yards in his two games and he ranks last or second-to-last in target conversion rate (31.3 percent), yards per target (4.2) and Fantasy points per target (0.42) among the 50 most targeted receivers. He has historically struggled with Kevin Kolb under center and I am afraid his numbers will not get any better in Week 3.

Mike Wallace is being incredibly efficient to start the season and has the most points of any Pittsburgh receiver, but I am a little troubled by what I am seeing. Wallace has seen only 11 targets through two games, third on the team as Antonio Brown leads the team with 18 and Emmanuel Sanders is second with 12. Fortunately he has caught nine of them for 111 yards and two touchdowns. The touchdowns have been the saving grace for Wallace, because an average of 55 yards per game and 12.3 yards per catch are not going to cut it for a “big play” receiver. Don’t forget that in 2011, Wallace averaged less than 50 yards per game and 13.6 yards per catch over the second half of the season when Brown really emerged. In the first half of that season, Wallace averaged 100 yards per game and over 18.8 yards per catch and he has never been below 16.6 yards per catch for a season. Unless these numbers change for Wallace in the next couple of weeks, it could be a very disappointing season because you can’t count on a 18.1 percent touchdown rate over the course of a full season.

• Through two weeks, little Danny Amendola leads the NFL with 20 catches and is second with 25 targets and is third with 230 receiving yards. He is catching a ridiculous 80 percent of his targets and is the clear to go guy for Sam Bradford because no other receiver on the Rams has even 10 targets on the year! Amendola is a solid start every single week and could end up out Wes Welkering Wes Welker in 2012.

• Start all of your receivers against the New York Giants people. Through two weeks now, every receiver who has seen five targets against the Giants has produced double digit points and they are all averaging over 10 yards and 1.7 points per target.

Demaryius Thomas is clicking with Peyton Manning and is the top Fantasy receiver after two weeks. Thomas has hauled in 13 of his 18 targets (72.2 percent) for 188 yards and two touchdowns through two games. He is averaging a very healthy 10.4 yards and 1.71 Fantasy points per target.

• 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.

• Between his 18 catches and seven carries through two games, Percy Harvin has touched the ball more than any other receiver in the league and only Victor Cruz (27) has more targets than Harvin’s 25 touches. He will productive week in and week out if he continues to touch the football 10 times per week. Oh yeah, his league best 85.7 percent catch rate doesn’t hurt either.

• Do not blame Brandon Lloyd’s early season struggles on a lack of chances. Through two games, Lloyd has seen 21 targets, tied for fifth most in the NFL. Unfortunately, for a big play receiver he has done very little with them. Despite catching 13 of those passes Lloyd has only 129 yards receiving on the year. That’s right, he is averaging less than 10 yards per catch and only 6.1 yards per target. Lloyd’s 0.61 points per target bests only Mr. Fitzgerald among the 50 most targeted receivers thus far.

Michael Crabtree is turning into one of the most dependable receivers in the NFL and is a quality third receiver for your teams, especially in PPR leagues. Through two weeks, he has caught 81.3 percent (second best among the 40 most targeted receivers) of his 16 targets for 143 yards. He has seen at least seven targets and has at least six receptions in each game so far. Going back to last year, Crabtree now has five or more catches in 10 of his last 13 games.

• Here are some lesser thought of receivers in the Top 20 in targets after Week 2 that you should keep your eye on: Donnie Avery, Brian Hartline, Crabtree and Santonio Holmes.

Brent Celek was the fourth ranked Fantasy tight end in 2011 from Week 6 and he appears to be picking up where he left off to start 2012. After two weeks, Celek leads all tight ends with 222 yards receiving (second place is Jimmy Graham at 156 yards) and is second among the 30 most targeted tight ends with an 11.7 yards per target average. Celek ranks third among all tight ends with 19 targets so far and is one of only four at his position who have seen at least eight targets in each of the first two games. I expect continued production from Celek who is looking like an early Draft Day steal.

Vernon Davis is absolutely on fire in 2012 and his 2.47 Fantasy points per target through two games is the best among the 35 most targeted tight ends. He has only seen 12 passes and yes, I want Davis to see eight targets per game, but you can’t argue with the fact that he has caught eight of them for 116 yards (nearly 10 yards per target) and three touchdowns. Going back through the playoff run, Davis now has seven touchdowns in his last four games.

Greg Olsen (10), Fred Davis (nine) and Jacob Tamme (nine) all have me worried right now as none of that trio is even in the Top 20 for targets at the tight end position. In fact, the three of them combined only have three more targets than position leader Dennis Pitta’s 25.

Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley combined for 18 targets through the first two games of the season, which is another strong indication that Ryan Mathews could easily average 5 catches per game once he returns to action.

Target Leaders by position for Week 2: Wide receiver: Victor Cruz (17), Danny Amendola (16), Dwayne Bowe (15), Hakeem Nicks (15), Percy Harvin (13) and Brandon Lloyd (13); Tight end: Dennis Pitta (15), Jimmy Graham (13) and Brent Celek (11); Running back: Darren Sproles (14) and Ray Rice (10).

Red Zone

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Eli Manning has four passing touchdowns on the season, but only one of them has come from inside the red zone. Despite having 14 red zone chances, Manning has just a 7.1 percent touchdown rate inside the 20-yard line, which is the third worst among the 20 busiest quarterbacks. If he gets that figure back up to his usual 25 percent, Manning will start piling up scores on a weekly basis.

• Who have been the most efficient red zone quarterbacks through the first two weeks of the season? Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick both have 50 percent red zone scoring rates through the first two weeks and you can’t ignore the fact that Sanchez was Top 3 in this category just one year ago. Also, I should point out that Sanchez has twice as many red zone chances (six) as his teammate Tim Tebow, who many worried would be the red zone thief. Tebow does not have a single touchdown just yet either.

• Not to beat a dead horse here on Ryan Mathews, but it should be noted that through two weeks, San Diego’s running backs have a league high 25 red zone chances. Second place is the Houston Texans combo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate with 18, so again, Mathews could step into an awesome situation and have every opportunity for big production.

• The Cowboys need to do a better job of giving DeMarco Murray a chance to score because one red zone touch in two games is unacceptable.

Malcom Floyd has twice as many red zone targets (four) than Robert Meachem has catches through the first two weeks of the season. If there was any doubt as to which San Diego receiver would be the main man in 2012, they should be gone now, because for Phil Rivers all he sees is Malcom in the middle.

• Another little tidbit that makes waiver wire receivers Donnie Avery and Ryan Tannehill’s top target Brian Hartline a little more appealing is that they are both tied for seventh at receiver with three red zone targets apiece.

Martellus Bennett needs to be owned in all leagues and he is really shaping up to be a solid Fantasy tight end. He is tied for first among all tight ends with five red zone targets and actually has as many red zone looks as teammates Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks combined.

Goal Line

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• One thing that will make it hard for Matt Schaub to rack up easy touchdowns is the fact that the Texans have no problem running it and running it and running it some more when they get near the goal line. In the first two weeks, Schaub has attempted one pass from inside the five yard line, while Arian Foster and Ben Tate have combined for eight carries and three touchdowns.

• Willis McGahee’s touchdowns were sure to go up with Peyton Manning in town and he is already halfway to his 2011 total of four rushing scores. McGahee punched in two goal line rushes this week and it could happen again as he has more goal line carries (four) than Peyton has goal line passes (three) so far.

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.

C.J. Spiller took the lone goal line carry for the Bills in Week 2 and scored his second touchdown of the day. Tashard Choice was nowhere to be found, so he is clearly a must start, all upside Fantasy back while Fred Jackson remains out.

Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, Larry Fitzgerald, Sidney Rice, Roddy White and Victor Cruz are the six receivers who have been targeted at least twice inside the five yard line this season.

Heath Miller now has an NFL best four goal line targets and two goal line touchdown catches through two weeks. He is being more utilized in scoring situations under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley and his continued involvement could even make Miller Fantasy relevant going forward.

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
Texans' Louis Nix 'trying to move forward' in sophomore season
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Texans nose tackle Louis Nix spoke about his lost rookie season this week in OTAs, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"A lot went on my first year here. It was a lot to deal with," said Nix, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the preseason and eventually was placed on season-ending injured reserve. "It was difficult to maintain it with all the issues. But I'm happy about now, and that's what I'm worried about. I'm just trying to move forward and do the best I can."

Coach Bill O'Brien expressed frustration with Nix earlier this offseason.

"Bill is Bill. He challenges everybody," Nix said. "Sometimes you guys make it more than what it is. … He wants guys to be better. I take no offense to it. I know he just wants me to be the best player that I can be. He sees potential, and I see it in myself. I'm starting to get back in a groove of things. I'm just going to keep trying to do the best I can."

Nix is finally healthy and working his way into game shape.

"Make it through a practice, man," Nix said. "That's my goal."


Eagles' Earl Wolff, Marcus Smith limited in OTAs with injuries
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Eagles safety Earl Wolff and linebacker Marcus Smith were limited in OTAs with injuries, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Wolff is recovering from knee surgery. Coach Chip Kelly said the safety has been cleared to return, and the team is waiting for him to reach full participation in OTAs. Smith has been dealing with a pulled leg muscle.


Packers' Casey Hayward dealing with foot injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Packers cornerback Casey Hayward is dealing with a foot injury and doesn't expect to return to action until training camp, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"I’ll probably take it easy into camp right now," Hayward said. "I have a minor foot thing right now. We’ll probably take it easy into camp."

Hayward said the foot "flared up" on him earlier in the offseason. He finished with 42 tackles and three interceptions last season.


Ravens' Terrence Brooks running, 'doing really well'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Ravens free safety Terrence Brooks is running after suffering ACL and MCL tears in his right knee in December, the Baltimore Sun reports.

"Terrence Brooks is doing really well," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "No predictions right now, but he looks good. He has worked hard."

Brooks is expected to open the season on the PUP list and could make his return this season.

"We're just hoping for the best, trying to get back as soon as possible," Brooks said. "We're taking precautious. We definitely don't want to rush back too fast. If you do get cleared, playing this year is definitely a goal. You don't want to rush it. For the most part, you have to be cautious and take it easy. After we get off of the PUP list, we'll see where we're at. I definitely want to get back into it, but we're taking our time. I have high hopes of being ready."


Report: OT Jake Long visits Giants Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Free-agent offensive tackle Jake Long visited the Giants on Thursday, ESPN reports.

The Giants are having to shuffle their offensive line with Will Beatty expected to miss the first part of the season with a pec injury. Long was scheduled to make $9.25 million in 2015 but was released by the Rams in March.


Saints CB Brandon Browner impressing teammates, coach
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) New Saints cornerback Brandon Browner is having a positive impact on not just the secondary, but the entire defense. At least that's the view of defensive backfield mate Kenny Vaccaro.

"Browner's a good dude, leads by example, talks when he needs to talk," Vaccaro told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "He's real serious, kind of keeps everybody level headed and knows what we've got to work for. He's won two Super Bowls, so he knows what to do."

Sean Payton echoed those sentiments.

"He's competitive," he said. "He's driven and certainly one of the things we talked about this offseason through the draft, through the acquisition of players is the makeup and making sure that this is something we felt like was a plus and certainly with him we feel that that is a strength of his."

The Saints are Browner's fourth team in six seasons in the NFL.


Eagles LB DeMeco Ryans working way back from injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) There was a bit of a discrepancy Thursday in regard to the practice participation of Eagles inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans.

Chip Kelly said before the session that Ryans would be a full-go despite him being just seven months removed from rupturing his Achilles tendon. Ryans did practice, but he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was not a full participant.

Ryans missed half of the 2014 season with the injury, but contributed to 45 tackles in eight games before going down.


Eagles QB Mark Sanchez optimistic as offseason rolls on
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) A stronger arm, greater familiarity with the offense and more confidence has Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez feeling quite good these days.

Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery two years ago that affected him early last season. He expects to be better in 2015, especially if given an opportunity to play over newcomer Sam Bradford.

"First thing, physically, I feel so much better," he told the team website. "The farther it gets away from surgery and all the reps I've had, all the rehab on through, it can only get better and stronger. So this is definitely the best I've ever felt. And then as far as the scheme, every rep, every time we sit down and watch film, every meeting, that can only help with my growth as well."

The chance to play is one reason why Sanchez chose to return this offseason to the Eagles.

"Were there other opportunitites? Absolutely," he said. "Did they look potentially good, better, similar, maybe worse? Potentially, yeah, there was some stuff out there. But when I factored it all in, I just felt this was the best spot for me. I enjoy playing for coach Kelly, I love this system, I love the tempo, I love the pace."

Sanchez also expressed a desire to remain on the team for which he threw his highest completition percentage of his career in 2014. He hit on 64.1 percent, by far a personal best.

Chip Kelly has seen a difference in Sanchez.

"I think you can see it in how he's performing out there now," he said. "He's also not learning an offense again. ... He is really comfortable in terms of the scheme."


Ravens waive/injured Julian Wilson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) The Ravens waived/injured cornerback Julian Wilson on Thursday, the Baltimore Sun reports. Wilson suffered a broken leg on the first day of rookie camp and will miss the season.

Saints' Anthony Spencer works ahead of Junior Galette Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5/28/2015) Saints linebacker Anthony Spencer worked ahead of Junior Galette in the team's base 4-3 defense, a run-heavy look that featured just three linebackers, ESPN.com reports.

"However it came out, we’re not worried about depth chart now," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "We’re putting in a defense, we’re all working hard together and getting to know each other, our teammates and what we got. But I know both those guys can play, so we’re excited about 'em."

Spencer had a career-high 11 sacks in 2012 but has managed just 24 total tackles and a half-sack in 14 games over the last two years while dealing with a major knee injury.

"I think sometimes there are tougher positions to evaluate at this time of year," coach Sean Payton said, when asked to give his early thoughts on Spencer. "But I think, No. 1, he can affect the passer. ... He’s an edge player, I think he’s very good at fitting the run, and I think he can affect the passer."


 
 
 
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