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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
Report: Rams among teams interested in trade for Eagles' Foles
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) Teams are beginning to show interest in Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, as reports are surfacing Philadelphia is unsure of what to do with the third-year quarterback, per NJ.com. A source said the Rams have interest in Foles should the Eagles choose to trade him this offseason. 

The Titans and Texans have also been mentioned as teams that would have interest in Foles, if he hits the trade market.

It's still unclear if the Eagles would be willing to move Foles. NJ.com reported last week the Eagles, who have the 20th pick in the NFL Draft, are considering making a run at Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in the draft. 

"From No. 20, it's certainly not going to be easy,'' a source said. "It's probably going to take moving up twice to do it. There's going to be some wheeling and dealing involved.

"Can it happen? I don't know. But they're going to try."

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly recruited Mariota to Oregon and coached him for two years.

"Obviously, [with] my relationship with coach Kelly, it'd be a lot of fun to be a part of that offense and be a part of that team," Mariota said when asked about a potential reunion with Kelly.

Foles is 15-9 as a starter in the NFL, but he has yet to play a full season. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 6,753 yards, 46 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.


Colts' Luck on new contract: 'There's nothing there right now'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:01 am ET) An ESPN report surfaced last week stating the Colts were working on making quarterback Andrew Luck the highest-paid player in the NFL. When asked about the subject at the Pro Bowl, Luck seemed surprise when he heard the news.

"There's nothing there right now," Luck said, per The Indianapolis Star. "I didn't think about it all during the season and it's only been a few days since it ended. I haven't thought about it. I will have conversations with my agent just because you have to prepare, but I'm not sure where that report came from."

Luck has two years remaining on the $22 million deal he signed as a rookie in 2012. It includes a team option for 2016, which must be exercised later this year.

Luck just completed his third season in the NFL. He has been to the Pro Bowl every year he's been in the NFL. He's gone 11-5 in every season as an NFL starter. He threw for a career-best 40 touchdowns in 2014 and led Indianapolis to the AFC title game this season.


Seahawks' Sherman disappointed he won't receive gifts from Pro Bowl
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:48 am ET) In case you missed Sunday's Pro Bowl, Team Irvin knocked off Team Carter, 32-28, thanks to a second-half rally, which included touchdown catches by Emmanuel Sanders and Jimmy Graham.

While many Pro Bowl players that made the original roster were absent from the game due to injuries, Pro Bowl players from the Patriots and Seahawks also did not play due to preparations for next Sunday's Super Bowl.

One player who seemed upset about missing the Pro Bowl was Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. However, it was for a reason you probably wouldn't suspect.

“Only thing I’m disappointed in is they won’t give us our gifts from the Pro Bowl, which is kind of dumb,” Sherman said, per The Boston Globe. “The NFL is the only league that punishes the players who actually make the All-Star game by not giving them their gifts. It’s supposed to be watches and some other stuff, but we don’t get them so I couldn’t tell you.”


Patriots' Tom Brady on Deflategate: 'My feelings got hurt'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:33 am ET) If you have been out of the loop for the last week, then you might be unaware the Patriots have been under a lot of scrutiny since the AFC title game due to improperly inflated footballs used against the Colts. The media hoopla has transformed the controversy into what we know as Deflategate.

If you haven't been out of the loop, then you are well aware of the nonstop coverage it has received the last week and despite the Patriots pleas for it to go away, it just won't.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has had to deal with the backlash from Deflategate, and he found himself talking about the subject again Monday morning during an interview with WEEI.

“It’s all speculation,” Brady said. “I’ve tried to wrap my head around it, too. I’ve done that and I’m trying to move past that, because I continue to try to rehash things. I personalized a lot of things and thought this was all about me, and my feelings got hurt. Then I moved past it, because it’s not serving me. What’s serving me is try to prepare for the game ahead. I’ll deal with whatever happens later. I’ll have my opportunity to try to figure out what happened and figure out a theory like everyone else is trying to do. But this isn’t the time for that. Honestly, I’m not interested in trying to find out right now, because we have the biggest game of our season ahead.”

One topic Brady didn't have a problem addressing was the speculation coach Bill Belichick threw him under the bus during a press conference on Thursday. But Brady came to the defense of Belichick, who has won three Super Bowls as the Patriots coach.

“I’ve never once felt that we’re not on the same page,” Brady said. “He’s a great coach. He’s the only coach I’ve ever played for; he’s the only coach I’d ever want to play for. There’s a lot of people over the years that have criticized him, but I’d say there’s not one player who’s ever played for him who’s not had an unbelievable amount of respect for him and how he prepares and his diligence and his preparation."


Giants' Odell Beckham says he played with hamstring tears
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:24 am ET) Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham said he played all season with two tears in his hamstrings, according to the New York Daily News.

Beckham took part in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, but admitted he's still not fully healed. Beckham said the injuries prevented him from getting to that "last gear that I wanted to have." He added that the injuries really bothered him against the Eagles and Colts. Beckham said he was "stumbling" and falling over during those games. He added that he's not sure whether he'll ever be 100 percent again.

The rookie had a tremendous season, hauling in 91 balls for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


Patriots' Tom Brady meeting with NFL after Super Bowl 49
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn't expect to meet with the NFL until after Super Bowl XLIX, according to NFL.com.

The Patriots have been in the headlines all week due to Deflategate, and it appears the situation won't be resolved until after the season. "I believe they're going to do [a meeting] after the season," Brady said. "So we'll deal with it after this game. I think everybody is locked in, ready to go for the Super Bowl." Both Brady and coach Bill Belichick have held separate press conferences during the week to deny the team's involvement in deflating their footballs. 

The Patriots are subject to punishment from the NFL if the league finds any wrongdoing during the investigation. 


Earl Thomas on bad shoulder: 'I'll still play fearless'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who dislocated his shoulder in the NFC Championship Game, could remain limited in practice this week ahead of the Super Bowl, reports the Seattle Times. But he said he won't be thinking about the injury against the Patriots.

"When I come alive nothing is limited,’’ he said. “I’ll still play fearless, throw my body around, and let whatever happens, happens.’’

Thomas did allow that he might have to rely more on his teammates.

“My mindset is I have an opportunity to really trust my teammates,’’ he said. “This is the first game I’m going to have to trust them because of my injury. So I really, really, really trust my teammates, and that’s what I’m banking on, my teammates doing what they need to do and I need to come through myself.’’

It's unclear if Thomas will need offseason surgery.

The Seahawks are 1-point underdogs after opening as 2.5-point favorites.


Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck pondering retirement
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told ESPN.com he's not sure if he'll retire or return for a 17th season. Hasselbeck, 39, appeared in four games this season and played well, posting a 102.6 passer rating.

He's set to hit unrestricted free agency.


Colts expected to part ways with center A.Q. Shipley
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Colts center A.Q. Shipley is headed for unrestricted free agency, and the team is expected to let him go, reports ESPN.com. 

"Shipley went from starting in Week 1 to losing his starting job, to being inactive, to being the third-string center," the report said. "All without any explanation from coach Chuck Pagano or anybody in the front office."

Shipley, 28, has played in 45 career games, starting 19.


Report: Dolphins aim to re-sign TE Charles Clay
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) The Dolphins have privately indicated they want to re-sign impending free agent tight end Charles Clay and will make him an offer in coming weeks, reports the Miami Herald. Clay caught 58 passes for 605 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games this season.

Miami also is high on Clay's backup, Dion Sims, who's signed through 2016, the paper said.


 
 
 
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