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Tricks of the Trends after Week 5

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 success to help give you a little edge in your weekly quest for victory.

Every team in the NFL has played four games at this point, so let's take a look at some of the early season winners and losers when it comes to efficiency, or lack thereof, for the top pass catchers in the league.

• Among the 60 most targeted receivers, here are the leaders in target conversion rate: Randall Cobb (88 percent), Mario Manningham (82.6 percent), Percy Harvin (79.2 percent), Wes Welker (73.1 percent) and Michael Crabtree (71.1 percent). Now for those who have the worst catch rate: Justin Blackmon (39.4 percent), Greg Little (40.7 percent), Josh Gordon (40.9 percent), Vincent Jackson (42.1 percent) and Steve Johnson (45.7 percent).

• Among the 60 most targeted receivers, here are the leaders in yards per target average: Jeremy Kerley (12.7), Torrey Smith (11.6), Demaryius Thomas (11.2), Roddy White (10.7) and Malcom Floyd (10.5). Now for those who have the lowest yards per target average: Greg Jennings (3.5), Justin Blackmon (3.6), Kendall Wright (4.9), Steve Johnson (5.1), and Early Doucet (5.4).

• Finally, let's look at Fantasy points per target, starting with the best among the 60 most targeted wide receivers: James Jones (1.79), Jeremy Kerley (1.79 -- clearly this kid is doing a lot with his looks and is gaining the confidence of his quarterback after seeing a season best nine targets in Week 5), Torrey Smith (1.72), Miles Austin (1.66) and Mike Williams (1.55 -- so yes the acquisition of Vincent Jackson has really helped his efficiency). Now here are the players that are literally doing the least with the most: Justin Blackmon (0.36), Early Doucet (0.54), Michael Jenkins (0.56), Emmanuel Sanders (0.62) and Greg Jennings (0.63).

• After seeing 12 targets in Week 3, Brandon Lloyd has seen just 12 targets in his last two games combined. No wonder then that Lloyd has only caught six passes for 84 yards and a score over the last two weeks. Meanwhile, teammate Wes Welker has seen 26 targets in the last two games and has caught 22 of them for 233 yards and a touchdown of his own. With Aaron Hernandez coming back into the mix, you have to wonder how consistent Lloyd's targets will be going forward. Welker has proven himself to once again be indispensable for Tom Brady, so I don't think we have to worry that he will go back to just five targets like he had in Week 1.

Torrey Smith needs to get the ball! In the two games where he saw 10 targets, Smith produced a grand total of 12 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns. In the other three games, Smith has seen a total of 12 targets and has produced only 146 yards on seven catches. In fact, all 10 of Smith's career touchdowns and all three of his career 100-yard receiving games have come in games where Smith has seen at least seven targets. In other words, hey Joe Flacco, get your superstar receiver at least seven targets every single game!

Andre Johnson is scaring me right now and it really is not his fault. Johnson is averaging just six targets per game, which is tied for 46th among all receivers. Reggie Wayne has only played in four games and has seen 60 targets on the year, compared to just 30 for Johnson. Johnson is averaging a very solid 1.34 Fantasy points per target, so all he needs are the chances to produce and things should work out. I am becoming concerned that with the Texans being a dominant team that loves to run the ball, he may not have many 10-target games like he did in Week 1, when he produced eight of his 17 catches, 119 of his 283 yards and one of his two touchdowns this year. If Johnson does not get 10 targets or produce at a high level against the Packers this week, it will officially be panic time.

• Don't bail on Brian Hartline after last week just because he saw a season-low five targets. He still averaged over 10 yards per target against the Bengals and I think he will see more looks going forward. He could struggle this week against a Rams defense that is giving up just 15.2 points per game to wide receivers, fourth fewest. If he does, I would look to buy low on Hartline.

• As we did with the wide receivers, let's take a look at the best and worst at the tight end position over the first quarter of the season. Here is a look at the leaders in target conversion rate among the 30 most targeted tight ends: Brandon Myers (94.1 percent), Marcedes Lewis (87.5 percent), Tony Gonzalez (83 percent), Heath Miller (79.2 percent) and Fred "throw me the ball more" Davis (76.9 percent). As for the worst at the tight end position in terms of catch rate, they are: Kellen Davis (44.4 percent), Jordan Cameron (50 percent), Tony Moeaki (50 percent), Coby Fleener (52 percent) and the disappointing Antonio Gates (52 percent).

• Among the 30 most targeted tight ends, here are the leaders in yards per target average: Brandon Myers (13.4), Vernon Davis (10.4), Fred Davis (10.2), Owen Daniels (9.4) and Brent Celek (9.3). Now for those who have the lowest yards per target average: Tony Moeaki (4.2), Jacob Tamme (4.9), Benjamin Watson (5.2), Anthony Fasano (5.3) and Jordan Cameron (5.4).

• Finally, let's look at Fantasy points per target, starting with the best among the 30 most targeted tight ends: Vernon Davis (1.87 -- the man needs more looks Alex Smith. We are begging you!), Joel Dreessen (1.73), Heath Miller (1.71), Scott Chandler (1.57) and Owen Daniels (1.49). Now here are the players that are literally doing the least with the most: Tony Moeaki (0.42), Benjamin Watson (0.52), Jordan Cameron (0.54), Coby Fleener (0.56), Antonio Gates (0.57) and Jacob Tamme (0.65).

• No one is complaining about Arian Foster's production early in the 2012 season, but I think we would all like to see him more involved in the passing game. Over the last two seasons Foster averaged 5.6 targets, 4.1 receptions and 42 yards receiving per game. This year, Foster is averaging 3.4 targets, 2.0 receptions and only 12 yards receiving per game. It would be nice to see Foster take less carries and get the opportunity to make plays in space and get tackled by defensive backs rather than linemen.

• Target Leaders by position in Week 5: Wide receiver: Reggie Wayne (20), Marques Colston (18), Brandon Marshall (17), Larry Fitzgerald (15), Wes Welker (15) and Julio Jones (15); Tight end Tony Gonzalez (14), Jacob Tamme (11) and Coby Fleener (9); Running back: Ryan Mathews (8), Darren Sproles (7) and Trent Richardson (7).

Red Zone

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Drew Brees leads all quarterbacks with 44 red zone chances and 12 red zone touchdowns to start the 2012 season. His 44 opportunities are just six fewer than Aaron Rodgers (24), Jay Cutler (14) and Tony Romo (12) have combined!

• Of the 21 quarterbacks with at least 20 red zone chances, only Eli Manning (19.4 percent), Cam Newton (19.2 percent), Carson Palmer (18.2 percent), Matthew Stafford (16.7 percent), Ryan Tannehill (9.5 percent) and Russell Wilson (7.4 percent) are turning less than 20 percent of their chances into touchdowns.

Darren McFadden (14), Steven Jackson (11), and Chris Johnson (seven) have combined for 32 red zone chances and have yet to score a single touchdown from inside the 20-yard line. By comparison, Arian Foster has 33 red zone opportunities himself and a league-best six scores. That's why Foster is living up to his draft day position and DMC, CJ1Y and S-Jax are not.

Shonn Greene has seen 14 red zone chances, tied for 11th most at the running back position, but he has only one score on the year. He needs to do more with those chances if he wants to hold onto his job. James Jones leads all pass catchers with five red zone scores on the season. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that they have come on only six targets for an 83 percent scoring rate. He is the only receiver among the 25 most targeted in the red zone with a scoring rate above 50 percent! Is he trying to be this year's Laurent Robinson?

• Call him Marques "Red Zone" Colston ladies and gentlemen. Two weeks ago I wrote that I was not too worried about Colston in this space and that he was a great buy-low candidate. Well, all he has done in the last two weeks is haul in four red zone touchdowns on a league-high nine red zone targets. Hope you bought low, because Colston is a touchdown machine and his price is rising faster than gas prices! If he continues to see two red zone targets per game, he will score double digit touchdowns this year and vastly outplay his draft position.

Goal Line

• Despite already having his bye week, Ben Roethlisberger is tied for the lead league with five goal line scores. I wonder how the return of Rashard Mendenhall will impact Ben's numbers up close, because I doubt he will be averaging three goal line passes per game now that the team has a running back it trusts.

• One of the reasons I am starting to worry a little about Maurice Jones-Drew is that with Blaine Gabbert at the helm, Jones-Drew has gotten only one goal line opportunity all season long. He will need some cheap touchdowns to help balance out some tough yardage days on the sputtering Jacksonville offense.

• There are only five runners who have seen three goal line chances and have yet to score: Doug Martin (four), Ryan Williams (four), Darren McFadden (three), Steven Jackson (three) and Bryce Brown (three). I don't like the fact that Brown has only one fewer goal line opportunity than LeSean McCoy.

Mike Wallace and Larry Fitzgerald lead all wide receivers with four goal line targets, but both have converted only one into a touchdown thus far.

Vernon Davis, Marcedes Lewis, Tony Gonzalez and Kyle Rudolph have all seen two goal line targets and they have all scored two goal line touchdowns. Let's get these guys some more chances.

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
Chiefs have no plans to cut ties with ILB Derrick Johnson
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:18 pm ET) The Chiefs have just $2.8 million of cap space with the NFL draft less than one month away, and while the team needs to find a way to make more room beneath the camp, the Chiefs will not part ways with inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, the Kansas City Star reports.

"Derrick is obviously one of the greatest inside linebackers to ever play for the club and there are some pretty good ones, if you go back in time," team chairman Clark Hunt said. "In terms of the modern era of the Chiefs, it’s hard to think about the club without thinking about Derrick at inside linebacker. He’s a great leader, he’s a tremendous person, represents the club well on and off the field. We’re looking forward to having him back this year, hopefully good as new. You mentioned that his contract is up this year. There will be a point in time where we address that. But it just hasn’t been germane to this point."

Johnson missed last season due to a torn Achilles tendon and has a cap number of $5.2 million this season.


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(2:12 pm ET) The 49ers will sign inside linebacker Desmond Bishop, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Bishop joined the 49ers last December and recorded two tackles in two games. He emerged as a starter with the Packers in 2010 and racked up more than 100 tackles for two straight seasons before missing the 2012 season and becoming a free agent. He could win significant playing time in the 49ers' base set after the retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.


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by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:08 pm ET) The Eagles announced Tuesday that they have signed wide receiver Miles Austin to a one-year contract. The deal was reported Monday and became official Tuesday after Austin, who caught 47 passes for 568 yards with two touchdowns in 2014, passed his physical.

Reports: Ravens sign QB Matt Schaub to two-year deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2:01 pm ET) The Ravens have signed quarterback Matt Schaub, Sports Illustrated reports. The deal will average about $2 million per year for two seasons, the Baltimore Sun reports.

Schaub threw just 10 passes after joining the Raiders before last season but has extensive experience as an NFL starter, having made 90 starts, mostly with the Texans. He's completed 63.9 percent of his passes in his career while racking up 130 touchdowns and 86 interceptions. Schaub will serve as a backup to starter Joe Flacco next season.


Report: Seahawks' Russell Wilson won't land fully-guaranteed deal
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(1:40 pm ET) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been in talks to land a contract extension this offseason, and while a large portion of the deal will be guaranteed, the quarterback will not receive a fully-guaranteed contract, NFL.com reports.

CBSSports.com NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported on March 21 that Wilson and the Seahawks were not close to an agreement. La Canfora also said during the NFL combine that it's possible Wilson plays out his rookie deal with the team. He has a cap hit a little less than $1.7 million in the last year of his rookie contract.


Report: Stevan Ridley visiting Dolphins Tuesday
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(12:57 pm ET) Free-agent running back Stevan Ridley is visiting the Dolphins Tuesday, the Miami Herald reports.

Ridley spent his first four seasons with the Patriots but struggled in 2014, rushing for just 340 yards and two touchdowns on 94 carries. He did rack up a career-high 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012. The running back underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in November.


Pagano: Andre Johnson brings a 'big, physical presence' to Colts
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:43 pm ET) Colts coach Chuck Pagano sees wide receiver Andre Johnson as a big presence underneath for the team's offense, adding a complementary piece to the speed of T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, ESPN.com reports.

"He's a big body guy that can still separate, create separation," Pagano said. "He's got a big catch radius. But again, the contested catches that you see on tape. It's very difficult to match up. There are few corners in the league that have length and size to match up but most are aren't on that size and they get pushed around a little bit. He's going to be able to bring that big, physical presence to us."

Johnson managed just 936 yards and three touchdowns on 85 receptions in 15 games in 2014, marking the first time he's played at least 10 games but not reached 1,000 yards since 2005. However, Pagano doesn't think Johnson has taken a step back.

"You don't see a huge dropoff numbers-wise," Pagano said. "Maybe in touchdowns. But you still see a guy who is more than capable of stretching the defense. Certainly somebody who an opponent can't just line up and say, 'Don't worry about Andre Johnson.' They're still going to have to tend to him if you will. If they choose to double [Hilton] and take him out of the game, you have another guy on the other side, along with the rest of the guys on the roster who can still stretch the defense. He's a big, possession type guy. He makes contested catches in traffic. He's got a big catch radius. A big body. Those guys are hard to defend."


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(12:34 pm ET) The Ravens and tight end Rob Housler have mutual interest, the Baltimore Sun reports.

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Housler posted career lows in 2014, grabbing just nine passes for 129 yards.


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(12:29 pm ET) Saints coach Sean Payton said at the annual NFL meeting that he doesn't think the moves the team has made this offseason have opened any holes in the starting lineup, indicating specifically that Tim Lelito would join Jahri Evans as the team's starting guards after the departure of Ben Grubbs, Saints.com reports.

"Those aren’t holes," Payton said about losing Grubbs and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton. "We’re not moving a player if we feel like there’s no…we feel like we have a pretty good idea of how everything is lining up. We’ve got a center we know that starts in this NFL, we’ve got a guard, (Tim) Lelito will play left guard, Jahri Evans is the right guard. The same way at receiver. So we weren’t looking to make a move that created another 'must'."

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(12:19 pm ET) Lions coach Jim Caldwell expects running back Theo Riddick to help boost a rushing attack that ranked 28th in 2014 and cut Reggie Bush after the season, MLive.com reports.

"We try and give (the ball) to the guys who are going to do something with it, and I think he's going to be one of those guys who's going to force us to give him the ball more," Caldwell said last week at the NFL owners meetings. "I think you're really going to see him come along."

Riddick rushed for 51 yards on 20 carries in 2014 and added 316 yards and four touchdowns on 34 catches.

"I can't tell you he's going to carry the ball 50 more times, or I can't tell you he's going to get the ball thrown to him 30 more times, until we have a chance to work through this gauntlet. Know what I mean?" Caldwell said. "When we get to the end of the gauntlet, then maybe I can give you a little more of a view. But I'm never going to tell you, 'Hey, we expect this guy to do this or that.' What role he plays, how much he's going to get it, kind of depends on how well we move the ball and how many opportunities we get, what kind of game it is, are we playing great defense, that kind of thing.

"But I will say that he's going to improve. He has all the qualities. Here's the thing -- if you're smart, if you're tough, if you're disciplined, if you have a great work ethic, there's improvement ahead. And he has all those things. So I think he's going to improve, and I think he's going to force us to get him the ball a little bit more in some situations."


 
 
 
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