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Tricks of the trends after Week 13

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

• I have always been a big fan of Dez Bryant's and would constantly rank him higher than most because I thought we were dealing with another physically dominant receiver like Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson. Bryant would tease us with flashes of his talent but never could put a full game together and did not even have a single 100-yard game in 2011. Well, something has clicked for Bryant and you can see the confidence growing every single week. Frankly it should be growing as Bryant has been on fire since Week 4. If you throw out the two games that Bryant was injured and used as a decoy, he has produced 10 or more Fantasy points in seven straight games, including 20-plus Fantasy points in each of the last three games. In those seven games, Bryant has been targeted 76 times and has caught 55 of them (72 percent) for 785 yards (10.3 yards per target) and eight touchdowns. He is averaging a ridiculous 1.76 Fantasy points per target and more importantly to you, he has produced an average of 18.2 Fantasy points per game. Bryant has produced 100 yards or a touchdown in every one of those games and has produced 100 yards and a touchdown or multiple touchdowns in four of those games, including the last three. Dez is on fire and is finally producing like the Top 5 receiver I always thought he could be.

Calvin Johnson has an NFL record five straight games with 125 or more yards receiving and has a legitimate shot to break Jerry Rice's all-time, single-season record for receiving yards of 1,848 yards, set back in 1995. In his last five games alone, Johnson has caught 45 passes for 720 yards and four touchdowns! For the season, Johnson already has eight games with more than 100 yards receiving and has totaled 1,428 yards with four games still to play. He is on pace for 1,904 yards receiving and a 2,000-yard season is not totally out of the question. If he can just average 143 yards per game the rest of the way, he will get there. When you say that sounds crazy, keep in mind that Johnson has averaged 158 yards per game over his last five. We are witnessing another historic season from one of the best to ever play the game.

• Poor Larry Fitzgerald has no chance with Ryan Lindley at quarterback and he has to be benched until he gets some help in Arizona. In three games with Lindley under center, Fitz has been the target of 26 passes and he has caught just five of them for 65 yards total. That means that one of the best receivers of all time is catching just 19 percent of his targets while averaging 2.5 yards and 0.25 points per target. I don't think the issue is with Mr. Fitzgerald, but you have to face the fact that he is averaging just two points per game with Lindley under center and has to be benched going forward.

• I know he has not produced massive totals of late, but Lance Moore has been one of the most efficient receivers in the NFL over the last seven weeks. In those seven games, Moore has found the end zone in only one game and has only three double-digit games, but the only thing holding Moore back is a lack of targets. Over this seven game stretch, Moore has been targeted 47 times (6.7 per game) but has 33 catches (70.2 percent catch rate) for 535 yards (11.4 yards per target) and two touchdowns. Those are tremendous efficiency metrics and it should come as no surprise that Moore has averaged 11 points per game (without a touchdown mind you) in the three games during that stretch with at least seven targets. If Moore can consistently receive eight targets per game down the stretch, he could really have a strong finish to the 2012 season.

Chris Givens is back in a big way for the Rams and if Danny Amendola remains on the sideline, we may have a nice No. 3 receiver for your teams for the stretch run. Over the last two games, Givens has been targeted 20 times and has 16 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. He is catching 80 percent of his targets, averaging 10.35 yards per target and 1.3 Fantasy points per target as the primary receiver for Sam Bradford. In Week 13, Givens showed that he is more than just a vertical threat by catching 11 passes for 92 yards. If he can continue to develop as an overall receiver, Givens will have a very bright future in this league.

• I have to give Donnie Avery props for his excellent Week 13 as he caught five passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns, but he did see 14 targets, so he still remains inefficient. T.Y. Hilton is my man and caught six of his 12 targets for 100 yards and no touchdowns in the Colts' amazing comeback win over the Lions. Hilton now has 100 yards receiving or a touchdown in three straight games and has produced 100 yards or more in four of his five career games with eight or more targets (he has scored in three of them to boot). If he is available in a keeper league or a standard league for that matter, get this man off of the waiver wire immediately.

Greg Jennings made his long awaited return to action in Week 13 and caught four of his eight targets for 46 yards against the Vikings. He has now seen eight or more targets in three games this year but has not reached 50 yards receiving in a single game. Hopefully Jennings can pick things up for you in the Fantasy playoffs, but he will have to significantly improve upon the career worst 4.1 yards per target he has produced in his injury riddled 2012 season.

Mike Wallace is another receiver who can be benched right now. He has not reached 50 yards receiving in four straight games and has not produced 70 yards in a game since Week 6. The once great vertical threat has exactly one game of 100 yards receiving in his last 22 games, which becomes even crazier when you consider that he had 10 games with 100 yards receiving in the 21 that preceded this drought. For a big-play guy, Wallace is averaging just 6.8 yards per target, which is just a little more than half of the 12.3 yards per target he averaged before this season. Teams have realized that if you take away the deep ball, Wallace is pretty darn average. It also doesn't help Wallace that he has dropped more than a few potential big plays.

Sidney Rice had his best game of the year in Week 13, catching six passes for 99 yards and a game-winning touchdown against the Bears. Rice has a touchdown in four of the last five games and five of the last seven. A closer look reveals that Rice is in such a groove that all he needs is six targets in a game to produce. During this seven-game barrage, Rice has seen six or more targets four times and he has scored in every one of those games. In fact, Rice has produced at least 11 Fantasy points in each of those games and has averaged 14.25 points per game when he sees six or more targets. For the year, Rice is averaging a ridiculous 1.53 Fantasy points per target, which puts him in the Top 4 at the receiver position for the season, which is very impressive.

Eric Decker was red hot in the middle of the season as he had a stretch of six straight games with 100 yards or a touchdown from Week 3 to Week 9. Decker scored in five of those games and produced 79 or more yards four times, but the wheels have fallen off of the proverbial bus since then. In the last four games, Decker has one touchdown, but has produced a grand total of 10 catches for 119 yards. He has two games of exactly one point in his last four and we have a dreaded situation of decreased opportunities and decreased efficiency. In the six-game stretch of glory, Decker averaged nine targets per game, caught 68.5 percent of them and produced 8.8 yards and 1.65 Fantasy points per target. In the last four games, Decker saw just 4.75 targets per game, caught 52 percent of them and produced just 6.3 yards and 0.95 Fantasy points per target. Perhaps the increased involvement of a certain tight end is cutting into Decker's production or teams have figured out a way to slow down Decker, who is much less dynamic than teammate Demaryius Thomas, who continues to thrive. Either way, it is a big concern for those of us expecting a big playoff push for Decker who has a put up or shut up matchup with the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.

Jacob Tamme is finally playing like the ultra sleeper he became once it was announced that he was following Peyton Manning to Denver this offseason. Tamme saw a season-high 13 targets in Week 13 and caught nine of them for 89 yards, which are also both season highs. Over the last two weeks, Tamme has been targeted 20 times and has 13 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. I think Peyton is starting to lean on his familiar friend for the stretch run, which means Tamme has legit Top 12 potential the rest of the way.

Aaron Hernandez really looked like himself against the Dolphins in Week 13 and I think the stud tight end could be in line for a big finish to the year. He was targeted 13 times and caught eight passes for 97 yards while narrowly missing a couple of touchdowns. With Brandon Lloyd being a complete bust, look for a healthy Hernandez to be very involved and very productive from here on out.

• Many of you may be into the Fantasy playoffs thanks to Brandon Myers, who caught 14 of his 15 targets for a career-high 130 yards and a touchdown in Week 13 against the Browns. What you may not know is that Myers had a garbage time drive for the ages as he literally had a game's worth of production in three minutes and 20 seconds. On the final drive, Myers caught all six of his targets for 73 yards and the touchdown! He accounted for 73 of the Raiders' 84 yards on the drive and produced 13 standard and 19 PPR Fantasy points in just another remarkable twist to an amazing season for the Oakland tight end.

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Target Leaders by position for Week 13: Wide receiver: Calvin Johnson (20), Wes Welker (18), Donnie Avery (14), Chris Givens (14), Brandon Marshall (14), and A.J. Green (13); Tight end: Brandon Myers (15), Aaron Hernandez (13) and Jacob Tamme (13); Running back: Darren Sproles (nine) and Ronnie Brown (eight)

Red Zone

• Of the 36 quarterbacks with at least 16 red zone chances this year, there are six with scoring rates greater than 30 percent. The six are Drew Brees (34 percent), Peyton Manning (34), Josh Freeman (33), Chad Henne (33) and Andy Dalton (30). Yes, I know that is only five, because No. 6 is Alex Smith at an NFL-best 42 percent (believe it or not).

Drew Brees leads all quarterbacks with 24 red zone passing touchdowns, which is amazingly just two fewer than Eli Manning (11), Cam Newton (seven) and Robert Griffin III (eight) have combined.

• After finding the end zone in three straight games, Michael Turner is now third in the NFL with seven red zone rushing scores in 2012. After scoring on just 12 percent of his red zone carries over the first nine games of the year, Turner has scored on three of his last seven red zone chances and has legit 10 touchdown potential this year. Amazingly, if Turner gets to 10 touchdowns it will be his fifth straight year with 10 or more scores on the ground.

Bryce Brown needs to stop fumbling so that a new star can be officially born. After running for more than 150 yards and two touchdowns in each of his first two NFL starts, Brown could be destined for greatness. He looks darn good in the red zone as well, scoring on 30 percent (three of 10) of his red zone carries. To put that into perspective for 2012, LeSean McCoy had converted just two of his 22 red zone carries prior to getting hurt in Week 11, so Brown has been an improvement in all aspects of the ground game in Philly.

Josh Freeman is finding out what Peyton Manning knew all along; Dallas Clark is pretty darn good in the red zone. Clark has now scored in three of his last four games (all red zone scores) on just four red zone targets. In his first eight games in Tampa, Clark received only five red zone targets and had one touchdown. Over the last four games, Clark has become a priority in the red zone, with the four targets and three scores. If you needed some tight end help Clark could help out, especially in touchdown heavy formats.

Goal line

• Who is the goal line back for the Panthers? Why that would be Cam Newton of course, who has six goal line rushing scores in 2012, which is tied for third in the entire league behind only Arian Foster (10) and Andre Brown (8). He has 10 carries on the year from inside the five-yard line while all other Panther running backs have nine goal line carries combined.

• When the Lions get near the end zone, they just need to start giving the ball to Mikel Leshoure on every play. Leshoure has scored on all four of his goal line carries this year and is the only runner among the 32 with at least four carries to have a 100 percent scoring rate.

• If there was any doubt about the roles of the Dolphins runners at the stripe, let me put an end to that right now. For the year, Reggie Bush has taken two goal line carries and has not scored a short touchdown. Meanwhile, Daniel Thomas has received eight goal line carries and has scored four goal line touchdowns, which is tied for sixth among all running backs. Knowing that Reggie Bush will not get any easy touchdowns and has just two games of 100 total yards all year (and none since Week 2), it becomes very tough to ever realistically count on 10 points from him.

Mike Williams has really benefitted from the arrival of Vincent Jackson this year and has six touchdowns already in 2012. You may be surprised to learn that three of those scores have come from the goal line area, tying him with Eric Decker and A.J. Green at the wide receiver position.

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Player News
Report: LB Desmond Bishop will visit 49ers
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Linebacker Desmond Bishop will visit the 49ers on Monday, according to csnbayarea.com.

Bishop played in two games for the 49ers last season after beginning the year with the Cardinals. After losing both Patrick Willis and Chris Borland to retirement, the team is looking for linebackers.

Over his eight-year NFL career, the 30-year-old has 299 total tackles, nine sacks, nine passes defensed, one interception and eight forced fumbles.


Packers want to keep RB Eddie Lacy fresh this season
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is working on ways to keep running back Eddie Lacy fresh this season, reports the Journal Sentinel.

McCarthy had talks with Lacy at the end of the last two seasons talking about his number of snaps and what he expected of the running back.

"I really felt that last year's conversation was more important than this year's, the ability to make a huge jump from Year One to Two, being a three-down player, that was something we stressed from Day One, and I thought he delivered," McCarthy said at the NFL owners meetings this week.

The head coach liked the way that the team used Lacy last season, limiting his snaps early in the year before increasing them as the season wore on.

"Maybe not run attempts," McCarthy said of hitting the target he set. "But I thought we were really smart the way we used him....I thought his pass protection he made a huge jump, and his ability to play out of the backfield.

"Eddie has excellent hands, and just his understand and his feel with Aaron, he definitely made a step."

In his first two seasons in the NFL, the 24-year-old has 2,317 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns. He has also added 77 receptions for 684 yards and four touchdown catches. 


Vikings CB Captain Munnerlyn working to earn starting spot
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Although Vikings cornerback Captain Munnerlyn likes the addition of Terence Newman to the team, he believes that he will beat him out for a starting job, reports twincities.com.

“I’m ready for the competition,’’ Munnerlyn told the Pioneer Press on Saturday. “I’m an athlete, so I never feel like anyone can beat me out. I feel I can hold onto the job. I’m betting on myself.’’

Munnerlyn, a six-year veteran, seems to embrace the competition that will be had at the cornerback spot.

“I think it’s great,’’ said Munnerlyn, a six-year veteran. “He’s a veteran. It’s great for competition. It will bring out the best in me. I’m excited about the competition. I just know that I’ve got to play a lot better than I did last year.’’

There have been a lot of questions this offseason as to whether or not he will settle in as the team's nickel back. He wants to shed the label of being relegated to the nickel spot.

“I don’t want that to happen,’’ Munnerlyn said. “I’ve been labeled my whole career as just a nickel back but I’ve been able to show people I’m more than that. But I know that I’ve got to work hard this offseason."
The 26-year-old has registered 343 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 44 passes defensed, nine interceptions -- five of which were returned for touchdowns -- and three forced fumbles.

Packers still interested in signing FB John Kuhn
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) The Packers are still interested in signing fullback John Kuhn to the roster, reports the Journal Sentinel.

When head coach Mike McCarthy was asked if Kuhn still has value, he replied, "Absolutely."

"I've always looked at the fullback and tight end position as one. I feel you have to have flexibility and versatility within those two positions. It keeps you in and out of a number of different personnel groups."

Kuhn, 32, has spent eight of his nine seasons with the Packers, rushing for 591 yards and 18 touchdowns. As a receiving option, the fullback has 76 receptions for 516 yards and eight touchdowns.


CB Lardarius Webb wants to finish career with Ravens
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) After restructuring his contract with the Ravens, cornerback Lardarius Webb wants to finish his career with the team, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Webb recently agreed to a contract restructure that dropped his cap number from $12 million to $9.25 million.

"My goal is to retire a Raven and, while it wasn’t an easy decision, I wanted to put the team first," Webb told The Baltimore Sun. "I wanted to prove myself this year that the Ravens sticking with me was the right decision. The Ravens reached out to my agent, Marc Lillibridge, a few weeks before the scouting combine and they were talking and working hard together to get something done. I'm glad it's done."

Webb, 29, has spent his entire six-year career with the Ravens, posting 301 total tackles, two sacks, 71 passes defensed, 11 interceptions and two forced fumbles.


Patriots DT Sealver Siliga still in walking boot
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Patriots defensive tackle Sealver Siliga is still in a walking boot after undergoing surgery last season, per ESPN.

Siliga is considered to be one of the top-two options at defensive tackle for the team after the departure of Vince Wilfork. The 24-year-old started five of the seven games he played in 2014. He recorded 32 total tackles and 2.5 sacks last season.


LB Lance Briggs to visit with 49ers on Monday
(3/28/2015) Free-agent linebacker Lance Briggs said he will meet with the 49ers on Monday, reports ESPN.com.

Briggs, a seven-time Pro Bowler, has played all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Bears.

Briggs appeared in just 17 games during the last two seasons due to various injuries.

The 49ers are looking to replace linebacker Chris Borland, who recently announced his retirement.

Texans LB Jadeveon Clowney (knee) walking without a limp
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney said his rehab from microfracture surgery in his knee is going well, according to the Houston Chronicle. Clowney, who is four months removed from the procedure, was spotted walking without a limp during a promotional event on Saturday.

"It's going good. I'm taking it one day at a time, having some fun hanging out with fans," said Clowney, who made his first public comments since Thanksgiving.

Clowney wouldn't comment on his status for training camp.

"I'm not going to speak on that, but I'm making progress, and I'm very encouraged," Clowney said. "I'm working hard, but we're not going to rush it."


Report: Vikings LB Chad Greenway agres to take paycut
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3/28/2015) Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway has agreed to restructure his contract, reducing his $7 million base salary to $3.4 million, according to Field Yates of ESPN. The move created $3.2 million in cap room for the Vikings.

Greenway, 32, has spent all nine years of his career with the Vikings, recording 992 total tackles, 15.5 sacks, 30 passes defensed, nine interceptions and eight forced fumbles.


Cardinals coach Arians: I was not going to let Logan Thomas fail
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/27/2015) Cardinals coach Bruce Arians still believes in young quarterback Logan Thomas. Arians didn't want to ruin his confidence last season after being forced into action with multiple injuries to Arizona quarterbacks, reports the team's website.

"He's going to get a ton of work and those reps are invaluable," Arians said. "Just in decision-making, how fast you're getting it out of your hand, where you're going with it, where you're going when 'one' and 'two' are still covered. Are you still scrambling around or are you going to find your outlets? That growth process comes strictly from reps."

Arians still has a plan for the second-year pro.

"We drafted him for two years from now, not November," Arians said. "It just so happened his number got called (earlier.) I was not going to let him fail (in San Francisco) because once you fail those scars never go away.

"It's very hard to get the guys back in the locker room if you cost them the playoffs. I just wasn't going to put him in that situation. Right or wrong, it just was my decision."


 
 
 
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