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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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Patriots unveil final injury report for Chicago game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:35 pm ET) The Patriots listed 13 players on its final injury report for Week 8 at home against Chicago. Chandler Jones (hip) is the only player on the list to be ruled out for the game.

Shane Vereen was a late addition to the report because of an illness. He missed practice Friday and was labeled questionable. Dan Connolly (concussion), Dominique Easley (shoulder, knee), Nate Ebner (finger), Cameron Fleming (finger), Matthew Slater (shoulder) and Bryan Stork (concussion) were deemed questionable.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady (ankle), Brandon Browner (ankle), Jamie Collins (thigh), Dont'a Hightower (knee) and Devin McCourty (rib) were all full participants in Friday's practice session and officially ruled probable for Sunday.


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Defensive end Calais Campbell (knee), who returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday and Friday, is questionable. The probables are wideout John Brown (ankle), running back Andre Ellington (foot), defensive and Frostee Rucker (calf) and safety Rashad Johnson (knee).


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(4:19 pm ET) Patriots running back Shane Vereen was a late adition to the injury report due to an illness. He was officially ruled as questionable for Sunday's game against the Bears, the Boston Globe reports. Vereen was unable to practice Friday because of the ailment. He's coming off a two-touchdown performance in Week 7 against the Jets.

If he is unable to play on Sunday, the team will likely turn to Brandon Bolden, Jonas Gray and James White to shoulder the load.


Bostic, Briggs doubtful but most Bears probable for Pats
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:05 pm ET) Aside from safety Danny McCray (knee), who has been ruled out, and doubtful linebackers Jon Bostic (back) and Lance Briggs (ribs), the Bears are in good shape heading into their Sunday game at New England.

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(4:04 pm ET) Texans coach Bill O'Brien told reporters rookie linebacker Jadeveon Clowney "has a good shot to play" Sunday against the Titans, according to the team's official website. O'Brien also indicated that Clowney will be on a pitch count if he plays. He was officially ruled questionable on the team's final injury report, which was released Friday.

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(3:57 pm ET) The Packers have placed four players on their Friday injury report - and each has a different designation. Included are defensive backs Sam Shields (knee), who is doubtful, and questionable Morgan Burnett (calf). Green Bay is preparing to play at New Orleans on Sunday night.

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(3:52 pm ET) With Shonn Greene expected back in the fold for Week 8 against the Texans, Fantasy owners should probably try to avoid relying on anyone in the Titans backfield for this Sunday's game.

Greene and Bishop Sankey will likely split carries this week, a setup that didn't really work out for either of them in the team's first five games before Greene's injury. Greene averaged just 4.8 Fantasy points per game in that span, while Sankey was putting up 3.8 before the injury.

The Titans' backs do have a good matchup for Week 8, with the Texans allowing 18.9 Fantasy points per game so far. Still, even with a solid matchup, we have too little track record of success to think either player is worth relying on here. 


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