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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
Titans' Massaquoi rehabbing shoulder, to miss OTA's
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:34 pm ET) Outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi will not participate in the Titans' first organized team activities, per ESPN.com.

Massaquoi, who was claimed off waivers from the Falcons earlier this year, is recovering from shoulder surgery. He had a bone spur removed from the area, but the procedure was categorized as a minor cleanup.

Massaquoi recorded 22 tackles in 15 games with Atlanta last season.


Entering third season, 49ers' Lawrence Okoye eyeing roster spot
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:04 pm ET) This might finally be the year Lawrence Okoye can crack a spot on the 49ers' roster, per the Bay Area News Group.

Okoye, a former British Olympics discus thrower and rugby player, is feeling confident about his improvements and feels like his potential is worth a roster spot.

“It’s very different from the first time I came here. I’m feeling very good about things,” Okoye said Thursday while sitting at his locker. “I’m just happy I was given the opportunity to stay here so long, so I could catch up. I have a good opportunity to show what I can do.”

Okoye has worked under new head coach Jim Tomsula for two years and with Justin Smith's retirement, his emergence might be rewarded.

“You’re going to get lots of people telling you things. But the main thing is to just keep yourself motivated, despite what people say about you," Okoye said. "People will write you off. People will say this or that. Just keep yourself motivated, keep going every day and you’ll be good.”

 


Bengals' Terrelle Pryor still dreams about winning it all
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:45 pm ET) Terrelle Pryor's chances of taking the Bengals to the Super Bowl and winning it are slim, but that won’t stop him from dreaming.

Pryor -- in his fourth year in the league -- dreams about winning the Super Bowl with quite some frequency, he just isn't sure what team he's doing it with.

“I don’t know the team. It’s always in black uniforms,” Pryor said. “I didn’t see any orange. No, it’s not the Raiders. But I believe it can happen because I can visualize it like that. I’m into visualization.”

Pryor hasn't played a down since the 2013 regular season, when he passed for 1,798 yards, seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games.


Flowers' college position coach thinks he can fill in for injured Beatty
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(3:18 pm ET) Things are moving really fast for Giants offensive lineman Ereck Flowers. The eighth overall pick in the draft, because of an injury to Will Beatty, might have inherited a huge workload this season, per nj.com.

Art Kehoe, Flowers' offensive line coach at the University of Miami, thinks Flowers will be up to the task of protecting quarterback Eli Manning.

"I'm sure he raised his level up a notch or two, but I think he plays every week, I think he plays hard in practice," Kehoe said. "He's an unproven commodity at the next level, and he's a high draft pick, [the Giants] drafted him to be a fixer, so I'm sure he's going in there to do what he did in Miami — scrap his ass off every day in practice, and if you're supposed to be a badass the next weekend [against] your opponent, he's gonna be there and he's gonna bring everything he's got. That's what he does. He wants to know that there's a dude, and he has to take care of him, and he'll be up to the challenge.

Giants' 2013 first-round pick, Justin Pugh is also a top candidate to fill in for the injured Beatty.


Union: Goodell must back off hearing of Patriots QB Tom Brady
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:00 pm ET) NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith is growing impatient awaiting word from Roger Goodell on the request of the NFL commissioner to recuse himself as arbitrator of the appeal hearings ofPatriots quarterback Tom Brady.

The league suspended Brady for the first four games next season for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal, claiming that he likely knew that game balls were being deflated for his benefit before the 2014 AFC title game.

Smith is claiming that neither Goodell nor the Wells Report, which investigated the incident, could legitimately claim impartiality. He added that the NFLPA will "advance the volume" of the request if they don't hear from Goodell by next week. Part of the union's press release reads as follows:

Given a process that has contained procedural violations of our collective bargaining agreement, the Commissioner's role as a central witness in the appeal hearing and his evident partiality with respect to the Wells report, the Commissioner must designate a neutral party to serve as arbitrator in this matter. The players also believe that the Commissioner's history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner.

As for the Wells Report, Smith stated that "you can't really have credibility just because you slap the word independent on a piece of paper." He offered into evidence the findings in regard to NFL official Walt Anderson, who was a key figure in the investigation, citing one part of the report questions his memory and another credits it.


Zimmer happy with progress of Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:32 pm ET) Mike Zimmer has expressed optimism that underachieving Vikings wideout Cordarrelle Patterson is gaining a better understanding of route-running and the nuances of playing the position in the NFL, which would allow his talent to result in greater productivity.

Patterson took a step back in 2014 after a mediocre rookie year. He played in every game, but managed just 33 receptions for 384 yards and one touchdown. He has since stated that 2015 is his make-or-break year and is apparently acting like it in the offseason.

"He's done real well," Zimmer told Fox Sports North. "He's running routes good. He's working hard. So we just need him to continue to do those things and continue to keep getting consistent and keep improving. I've been impressed."


GM: Dolphins LT Branden Albert should be fine for Week 1
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:22 pm ET) Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey has expressed optimism that left tackle Branden Albert will be ready to roll by the regular season opener.

Albert has been rehabbing from a torn ACL and MCL sustained last November against Detroit. He had signed a five-year, $46 million contract the previous March and had been performing particularly well before going down.

"It's been a long rehab and he's really attacked it every day," Hickey told SiriusXM NFL Radio, adding that there was a "reasonable explanation" that he would be ready for Week 1. "We really like his progress. He's out there with his team working out. We're really encouraged by what we're seeing with him."

Ja'Wuan Williams was forced to move to left tackle following the Albert injury in 2014. But he struggled at that position and is expected to move to his more familiar right tackle spot this year.


Report: Bills still want to extend Marcell Dareus
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:15 pm ET) The Bills still want to extend the contract of defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, according to a report by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Despite the one-game suspension levied by the league against Dareus on Thursday, the team still hopes to have an extension wrapped up before the start of training camp. 

2015 is scheduled to be the last season of Dareus' current contract. He'll make $8.06 million.


Shanahan: Struggles of Robert Griffin III unrelated to injury
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:13 pm ET) Former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan does not believe injuries have prevented quarterback Robert Griffin III from maximizing his potential in the NFL. Rather, he feels it was the team not creating an offensive system that best fits his talents and his own belief that he could play a traditional role at that position.

Griffin sustained a serious knee injury in the 2012 playoffs. He then struggled in 2013 in an offense designed to transform him into a drop-back quarterback rather than one that took advantage of his mobility. He suffered another knee injury last year and did not perform well in the offense of new coach Jay Gruden.

"I don't think getting hurt has anything to do with it," Shanahan told 106.7 The Fan. "In college he didn't have a route tree, didn't have a playbook. That does take some time. ... If you take a quarterback like that you must run the kind of system that allows him to be successful. ... I really believe Robert thought he was more of a drop-back quarterback. He hasn't done things the NFL asks you to do. It does take some growing pains. You better really work on it inside and out."

Some have wondered why the Redskins went so hard after Griffin if they weren't willing to create an offense that maximizes his skill set.


Sheldon Richardson not at Jets' OTAs because 'I have a life'
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson is skipping the team's OTAs this week, a decision that earned him criticism from fans and media. 

Richardson's explanation isn't likely to win anyone over. 

Richardson went on Twitter and told fans he missed the workouts because, "I have a life outside of football."

"I chose to enjoy my family a little longer," he continued. "So to (you) fans that know everything, please worry 'bout yourself."

Richardson pointed out in another tweet that he "jus' wasn't at practice," but that he was still "putting in work tho'"


 
 
 
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