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Tricks of the trends after Week 4

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.

Targets

Brian Hartline just had 19 targets and 253 yards receiving in an NFL game. Seriously, it just happened in Week 4 against the Arizona Cardinals no less. For the year, Hartline is now third in the NFL with 48 targets and is one of only 10 receivers in the game to have seen at least eight targets in every game this year. We have definitely seen his best game of the year, but Hartline already has two 100-yard games and has a catch of at least 20 yards in every game. With an average of 12 targets per game, Hartline is worth a spot on every team and makes for a solid start in Week 5 against the Bengals.

• While Brian Hartline has his 48 targets through four games, I thought it would be important to point out that Andre Johnson has a grand total of 24. The Texans may be too good to give him the kind of workload he needs to be a dominant Fantasy performer week in and week out.

• We need to start calling Dwayne Bowe the Garbage Man, because no one in the NFL gets it done when it doesn't matter better than Dwayne Bowe. Bowe, who is tied for the league lead with 49 targets through four games, is especially busy when the game is out of hand. 19 of those 49 targets have come after the third quarter this year for Bowe and perhaps more importantly to his Fantasy owners, Bowe has scored all three of his touchdowns in the final stanza.

• The Atlanta wide receiving duo of Roddy White and Julio Jones may be the best in the NFL, but thus far they have been taking turns each week, rather than dominating together. In Weeks 1 and 3, Jones has caught 11 of his 16 targets for 175 yards and three touchdowns, or 35 Fantasy points. In those same games, White has 11 catches of his own for a solid 142 yards and no scores. In the even weeks however, it has been all about the Hot Rod. In Weeks 2 and 4, White has caught 16 of his 23 targets for 271 yards and three scores which is a ridiculous 45 Fantasy points. Jones meanwhile, has been almost invisible in those games, catching just five passes for 44 yards total. I'd like to see Jones be more like White when it is "not his week," or even better for Fantasy owners, how about they both blow up at the same time.

Larry Fitzgerald and Kevin Kolb apparently sat down and read the Tricks of the Trends a couple of weeks ago and decided they needed to go to quarterback/receiver counseling. Well, kudos to the doctor involved because over the last two weeks, they are looking like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. After a seven game scoring drought dating back to 2011, Fitz and Kolb are exactly on the same page. In the last two games, Fitzgerald has converted 17 of his 24 targets for 178 yards and two scores. If I am going to nitpick, I would like to see the yards per catch (10.5) and yards per target (7.4) go up, but hey, we can build on this.

Jerome Simpson only saw five targets in his 2012 debut with the Vikings, but Minnesota hardly threw the ball in their special teams win over the Lions. Those five targets were second on the team and he caught four of them for a team-high 50 yards. That's 10 yards per target, which is right where Simpson was in Cincy last year, so if he is still on your wire,go ahead and add him this week.

• Who leads all wide receivers with four receiving touchdowns? Duh, it's Andre Roberts of the Arizona Cardinals. Fitz and Kolb have worked out their issues as I outlined above, but Roberts can't be ignored either. Roberts has caught 15 of his 25 targets (60 percent) for 229 yards (9.2 yards per target) and the four scores. He is averaging 1.88 points per target thus far, which is the best number among the 70 most targeted receivers in the NFL. Something to keep in mind is that Roberts now has six scores in his last eight games and during that span, he has never produced fewer than seven points when he sees nine targets. With Fitz taking defensive attention on the other side of the field, Roberts is quietly earning more targets with his ability to win one-on-one matchups.

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• During the offseason I talked about how Mike Williams would be much more efficient working opposite Vincent Jackson then he was in 2011 as the main man. Well, through four games, Williams is averaging a career best 10 yards and 1.54 points per target and if he can get a few more looks from Josh Freeman (he is currently tied for 53rd at 5.5 targets per game), Williams could be a solid weekly play as your third receiver.

• Through the first three weeks of the NFL season, Martellus Bennett, Dennis Pitta and Kyle Rudolph averaged a combined 24 targets and a whopping 32 Fantasy points per week. In Week 4, they combined for only 10 targets and failed to produce a single Fantasy point. As Jamey Eisenberg likes to say, they were Pittaful. I am not giving up on these three after one bad week, but we have to make sure this radical decrease in targets and production does not continue.

• Who would have thought that after four games, the only pass catchers in the NFL with at least four receiving touchdowns would be the aforementioned Andre Roberts and tight ends Vernon Davis (ok, I can see that), Heath Miller (in three games mind you) and Scott Chandler? Well, Chandler is looking like the real deal and I love his overall involvement in the offense this year. In 2011, Chandler did catch six touchdowns, but averaged just 3.3 targets and 24.3 yards per game. This year, Chandler is averaging 5.8 targets and nearly 45 yards receiving per game. If he can maintain those levels and remain a beast in the red zone, he will be a sneaky Top 12 tight end when it is all said and done.

Antonio Gates and Jason Witten both got their efficiency in order in Week 4, which was good to see, but only one of them had a substantial workload. You see, Jason Witten saw a season high 14 targets in Week 4 and caught 13 of them for 112 yards and a touchdown. Entering the game, Witten had caught only eight passes for 76 yards on 19 targets. Now poor Antonio Gates has only 18 targets on the season, four more than Witten saw last week. He did catch all three of his targets in Week 4 for 59 yards, but Gates needs more chances to succeed and he should get them in Week 5 against the New Orleans Saints.

• After seeing 25 targets in the first two weeks, Darren McFadden has seen just three total in the last two games. The Raiders need to use their bye week to find better ways to get the ball into the hands of their star running back.

• Target Leaders by position for week 4: Wide receiver: Brian Hartline (19), Larry Fitzgerald (15), Lance Moore (15), Victor Cruz (13), Dez Bryant (13) and Marques Colston (15); Tight end: Jason Witten (14), Rob Gronkowski (11), Jimmy Graham (9) and Brandon Pettigrew (9); Running back: Ray Rice (11) and Marcel Reece (8)

Red Zone

Matt Schaub has 12 red zone chances and has produced four touchdowns. Meanwhile running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate have combined for 30 red zone opportunities and seven touchdowns. The Texans are perhaps too good at running the ball and way too good on defense to give Schaub a chance at consistent high-level Fantasy production.

Russell Wilson is single handedly murdering whatever value the pass catchers in Seattle may have now that the real refs are back on the field. Wilson has 24 red zone chances through four weeks, which tied for the third most in the NFL. Unfortunately, he has only one red zone score and his 4.2 percent red zone touchdown rate is the worst in the NFL among the 25 busiest quarterbacks. The other five quarterbacks with 24 or more chances inside the 20-yard line have combined for 32 red zone scores by comparison.

Darren McFadden leads all running backs in a dubious category, as his 14 red zone opportunities are the most at the position without a single touchdown in 2012.

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• Who is second among all running backs with four red zone touchdowns? If you guessed the wart on Ryan Mathews' current Fantasy production, the one and only Ewart Haron "Jackie" Battle III, then you are correct. He got all of the red zone work in Week 4 and scored twice against the Chiefs in his second two-touchdown game of the year.

• Three receivers pace the field with three red zone scores after the first four weeks of the season. Julio Jones is not a huge surprise, but I would imagine not too many of us had Andre Roberts and James Jones in our office pools. In fact, James Jones and Andre Roberts have combined for more red zone touchdowns than Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Percy Harvin, Wes Welker and Dez Bryant have combined receiving scores from anywhere on the field.

Alex Smith has three red zone scores on eight pass attempts. Only two of those attempts went the way of Vernon Davis, but both resulted in scores. My advice to Mr. Smith is to please give Vernon the two red zone targets per game that Martellus Bennett is currently receiving from Eli Manning.

Goal Line

• Last week, I highlighted Robert Griffin III for being four for four in goal line chances through the first three weeks of the NFL season. Well, he is now five for five and is like having a goal line back on your team in addition to a quarterback.

• Last week I also noted that Doug Martin was the only runner with four goal line chances and no touchdowns through the first three weeks. Well, Martin is still stuck at zero for four after Tampa Bay elected to give LeGarrette Blount the goal line work in Week 4. Blount made the most of his one goal line chance by converting it into the team's only short rushing touchdown of the year.

Jackie Battle and Arian Foster lead all running backs with four goal line touchdowns and they are No. 1 and No. 2 in terms of chances at 10 and nine respectively.

Reggie Bush owners should maybe start to be concerned about Jorvorskie Lane, the big bruising full back has taken the ball at the goal line in each of the last two weeks. He has converted both of his goal line chances into touchdowns and you'd expect that the Dolphins will continue to utilize their big battering ram up close.

• One reason that Larry Fitzgerald is finally scoring with Kevin Kolb under center is that he leads all receivers with four goal line targets this year. If that continues, we will see plenty of scores from the Fitz/Kolb combo.

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
Titans receivers can thrive in YAC with Marcus Mariota's accuracy
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:02 pm ET) The Titans wide receiving corps could gain more yards after the catch this season because of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and his accurate throws, per ESPN.com.

The Titans were 24th in the league in yards after the catch last season, but with Mariota under center that can all change.

“If you have an accurate quarterback, it allows us to get more yards after that catch,” wide receiver Harry Douglas said. “And that’s one thing that makes a receiver dynamic -- first being able to catch the ball and then being able to do some things with it after you catch it. I feel like [to this point] Marcus has done everything he needs to do to get the ball to his receivers.”


Saints RB Khiry Robinson doesn't feel he's on outside looking in
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(12:55 pm ET) Saints running back Khiry Robinson might be the least known of his backfield counterparts, but he doesn't feel like the off man out, per ESPN.com.

Robinson knows the team is heavily invested in the likes of Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller, but he's still confident he can thrive in whatever role the Saints put him in.

“I’m the type of person, I’m gonna get what I get and do what I do with it. So whether it’s 20 carries or one carry, I’m gonna do the best of my ability every play,” Robinson said.

Robinson has shown flashes of success during his three years in the league. Injuries played a key role against him last season, which can ultimately put him as the third back on the depth chart. He will use the offseason to continue to improve and challenge his counterparts for playing time.

“I just gotta keep working,” Robinson. “It’s all love in the backfield. We all work together, try to help each other. So I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a full backfield again. So if anybody goes down, we’ve got another player right up there to do the same thing.”


Browns OL Michael Bowie itching to compete for starting spot
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:47 am ET) Browns offensive lineman Michael Bowie is not required to report to training camp until the end of July. But never mind that - he's heading out after the last Independence Day firework explodes in the sky.

Bowie is itching to get started. He missed all of last season due to a shoulder injury after starting for Seattle on its Super Bowl title team in 2013. He is seeking to stay in tip-top shape in an attempt to land a starting spot on a Cleveland line that is the strength of the team.

"It's up to them to decide who is the best five," Bowie told the team website. "All I can do is take care of my business. Hopefully I can get a shot. That's what I'm working for."

Bowie participated fully in the offseason program, working mostly with the second team at right tackle. That will likely be the spot at which he competes for a starting job. Incumbent Mitchell Schwartz has not performed particularly well there and Mike Pettine has vowed there will be competition all over the field in camp.


Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan nearly recovered from knee surgery
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(9:32 am ET) Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan appears to be on target to join the team for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery that prevented him from participating in earlier offseason activities.

Kerrigan, who registered a career-high 13 1/2 sacks a year ago, had the operation to alleviate pain in the area.

"My leg feels really good and I'm glad I got the surgery - not just for football but it makes my everyday life feel better so I'm glad I got it done," he told CSN Washington. "Now it's just a matter of getting stronger and getting into shape."

Kerrigan added that he's been running and now only needs to regain strength to insure his place at training camp.


Texans waive DT Brandon Ivory
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) The Texans waived rookie defensive tackle Brandon Ivory on Thursday, according to ESPN.com

Ivory was arrested on first degree burglary charges in Tuscaloosa, Ala. just one day ago. Ivory's agent Jeff Guerriero said Ivory is not guilty of the charge. 

"I spoke to Brandon he is not guilty and his name will be cleared of all charges," Guerriero said. 


Chargers TE Antonio Gates suspended 4 games for PED use
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has been suspended four games for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy, the team announced. 

It's unknown at this time what drug Gates tested positive for. Gates, in a statement, said he was unaware that he took a banned substance

"In my 12 years in the NFL, I have taken tremendous pride in upholding the integrity of the NFL shield and all that it entails," Gates said. "I have taken extreme care of my body with a holistic approach and I have never knowingly ingested a substance that was banned by the NFL. In an effort to recover from this past season, I used supplements and holistic medicines, and unfortunately, I have now learned that those substances always present a risk because they may contain banned substances even if the ingredient list doesn’t reflect them.

"As an NFL veteran and team leader, I should have done my due diligence to ensure that what I was taking for recovery was within the NFL guidelines. I understand that I am responsible for what is in my body and I have always believed that ignorance is no excuse when it comes to these issues. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’d like to express my sincere apologies to the Chargers, my teammates, coaches, fans and the league who have always supported me and expected and gotten nothing but the highest level of integrity from me."

With Gates out for four games, the Chargers will turn to Ladarius Green as the team's top tight end, though it was expected for Green to continue getting more looks in the passing game. Green is entering the final season of his rookie contract. 

The Chargers expressed disappointment in Gates for his suspension but plans to stick with the longtime veteran through the suspension. 

"We are tremendously disappointed for our team and our fans as well as Antonio, but no more disappointed than Antonio is with himself," the Chargers stated. "Antonio is a member of the Chargers' family and we will continue to support him 100-percent. We have the utmost confidence he will stay in excellent shape for the season and be ready to go when he returns in Week 5. While it's unfortunate to not have him to start the season, we have complete confidence our tight end group will continue to play at a high level."  


Packers' Datone Jones out 1 game for substance-abuse violation
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Packers defensive lineman Datone Jones will be suspended for one game for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, according to NFL.com. 

Jones will miss Green Bay's season-opener against the Bears. In 2014, Jones totaled 22 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 13 games played. 


Cowboys LB Rolando McClain suspended four games for 2015
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(7/2/2015) The Cowboys announced that linebacker Rolando McClain has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. 

McClain hasn't been able to participate much in offseason workouts due to going under offseason knee surgery. McClain will be eligible to practice in training camp and is expected to be healthy by then. 

"I apologize to my family, the Cowboys organization, my teammates and Cowboys fans for my mistake. I will not break the rules of my profession in the future, and I regret my error," McClain said in a statement, via CSN Bay Area. "I look forward to returning to the field on week 5, when I hope to help my team beat the Patriots.

In 2014, McClain, who had previously retired twice before being traded from the Ravens to the Cowboys, totaled 81 tackles and a sack in 13 games played.


Jets DL Sheldon Richardson suspended four games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(7/2/2015) Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was suspended four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, the NFL announced Thursday.

“I apologize for letting down my family, teammates, this organization and the fans," Richardson said in a statement via the Jets, per Fox Sports. "However, words aren't enough. This is something that can only be addressed by how I handle myself from this point on. I don't want this to take away from what the team is trying to accomplish. While I won't be there at the start of the regular season, I will do whatever I can to support my teammates until I'm able to return to the field.”

Richardson, who was a 2013 first-round pick, is entering his third season in the NFL. He was the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2014.

He has totaled 84 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks in 32 career games. He also has one safety.


Texans DT Brandon Ivory arrested on burglary charge
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(7/1/2015) Texans defensive tackle Brandon Ivory was arrested Wednesday morning in Alabama and charged with first-degree burglary, according to a Tuscaloosa Police Department report obtained by SportingNews.com.

Ivory and another man were allegedly involved in a home burglary when the two entered the residence by kicking open the back door and then demanding money from the residents. The two stole money and two Ipads from the residence. Ivory and the other suspect were arrested at their apartment shortly after the incident with the stolen money and property.


 
 
 
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