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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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