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2012 Target Report: AFC North

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Throughout the year I highlighted various statistical facts and trends. With the year now complete, it's time to look back at each team and see what we can learn from the 2012 target, red zone and goal line data as we begin our preparations for the 2013 Fantasy season. I will profile each division separately in the coming weeks.

Baltimore Ravens

Target Leaders: Anquan Boldin (111 total /7.4 per game), Torrey Smith (110/6.9), Dennis Pitta (94/5.9), Ray Rice (83/5.2)
Catch Rate Leaders: Ray Rice (73.5 percent), Dennis Pitta (64.9), Anquan Boldin (58.6)
Yards Per Target Leader: Anquan Boldin (8.3), Torrey Smith (7.8), Dennis Pitta (7.1)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Torrey Smith (1.21), Dennis Pitta (1.16), Anquan Boldin (1.05)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Joe Flacco -- 24.6 percent touchdown rate (65 opportunities/ 16 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Ray Rice (48/eight touchdowns)
Red Zone Target Leader: Dennis Pitta (13/five)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Torrey Smith (54.5 percent), Dennis Pitta (38.5), Ray Rice (16.7)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Joe Flacco -- 42.8 percent touchdown rate (14 opportunities/six touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Ray Rice (10/three)
Goal Line Target Leader: Dennis Pitta (three/two)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Dennis Pitta (67 percent), Torrey Smith (50), Ray Rice (30)

For the third straight year, the Ravens did not have a 1,000 yard receiver. ... Torrey Smith once again led the team in Fantasy points per target, but his 7.8 yards per target was a big drop off from the 8.8 he produced in 2011. ... If he does not improve his 44.5 percent catch rate or see a radical increase in targets (6.9 won't cut it), Smith will disappoint again in 2013, especially if he does not match his eight touchdowns from this season. ... Pitta now has 10 touchdowns in his last 20 games and is becoming a trusted option for Flacco, both in the middle of the field and in the red zone, where he led the team with 13 targets. ... I expect Pitta's role to continue to expand and I love his efficiency metrics across the board, which means he is a breakout candidate with more targets. ... Boldin reinvigorated his career this year with 65 catches and 921 yards, but he still had six games of less than five Fantasy points. ... Boldin has limited upside and is not getting any younger, so this is about as good as he will be. ... Boldin also really struggled with only one touchdown on nine red zone targets. ... Pitta is the breakout to watch in 2013 and if Smith can improve his route running and become less reliant on the deep ball, he could be a post-hype sleeper in 2013.

Cincinnati Bengals

Target Leaders: A.J. Green (165 total/10.2 per game), Jermaine Gresham (95/5.9), Andrew Hawkins (80/5.7)
Catch Rate Leader: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (73.3 percent), Jermaine Gresham (67.4), Mohammed Sanu (64)
Yards Per Target Leader: A.J. Green (8.2), Jermaine Gresham (7.7)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Mohammed Sanu (1.58), A.J. Green (1.22), Jermaine Gresham (1.09)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Andy Dalton -- 28.6 percent touchdown rate (84 opportunities/24 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (47/six touchdowns)
Red Zone Target Leader: A.J. Green (24/eight)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Mohammed Sanu (57.1 percent), A.J. Green (33), Jermaine Gresham (30.7)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Andy Dalton -- 60 percent touchdown rate (15 opportunities/nine touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (14/five)
Goal Line Target Leader: A.J. Green (seven/four)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Mohammed Sanu (67 percent), A.J. Green (57.1 percent)

This team is all about Green in the passing game and he continues to be one of the most targeted and most productive receivers in all of Fantasy. He should be one of the first receivers taken in 2013. ... Gresham made big strides in 2012, setting career highs in receptions, receiving yards, yards per target, yards per catch and Fantasy points per target. ... Gresham has the chance to become a dependable weekly Fantasy tight end if he continues to improve, but his lack of speed puts a lot of pressure on him because he is not a route runner like Tony Gonzalez or Jason Witten are and we saw him completely neutralized in the playoffs. ... Sanu was a key to this offense and they will be very happy to get him back in 2013. ... Sanu was dominant in the red zone and was the team's most efficient receiver outside of Green, which is important because this team desperately needs a second option opposite of Green. ... Dalton's touchdown numbers were boosted by five big games and excellent red zone play. ... If Dalton can maintain his red zone efficiency (24 touchdowns ranked sixth, 28.6 scoring rate was fifth) and become a more dependable yardage producer he is a 2013 breakout candidate, but as the Wild Card game illustrated, he still has a long way to go. ... The Law Firm found out that it is much tougher to score 50 percent of the time in Cincy than it was in New England, but it was still a solid first season. I would expect more of the same in 2013.

Cleveland Browns

Target Leaders: Josh Gordon (95 total/5.9 per game), Greg Little (92/5.8), Benjamin Watson (82/5.1), Trent Richardson (70/4.7)
Catch Rate Leader: Trent Richardson (72.9 percent), Benjamin Watson (59.8), Greg Little (57.6)
Yards Per Target Leader: Josh Gordon (8.45), Travis Benjamin (8.05)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Josh Gordon (1.16), Travis Benjamin (1.13)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Brandon Weeden -- NFL-worst 11.6 percent touchdown rate (54 opportunities/six touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Trent Richardson (42/nine touchdowns)
Red Zone Target Leader: Josh Gordon (11/one)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Greg Little (42.8 percent), Benjamin Watson (33 percent), Trent Richardson (21.4 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Brandon Weeden -- 25 percent (eight opportunities/two touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Trent Richardson (12 carries/five touchdowns)
Goal Line Target Leader: Benjamin Watson, Jordan Cameron (three/one)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Trent Richardson (41.7 percent)

The Browns passing attack was dreadful in 2012, but there is some hope for 2013. ... Gordon was quite efficient as a rookie, averaging nearly 8.5 yards per target and 1.16 points per target. ... Gordon also had a solid stretch from Week 5 to Week 13 with 100 yards or a touchdown in four of eight games and was the first Cleveland receiver with more than 800 yards since 2008 (the Browns have not had a 1,000 yard receiver since Braylon Edwards in 2007). ... Little improved a lot in his sophomore season as his catch rate jumped from 50 percent to 57.6, and he finished with four catches in four of the last five games of 2012 and scored in each of the last two. ... If the Browns ever became a high-flying offense Travis Benjamin would have some upside given his excellent speed and big-play ability (8.05 yards per target). ... Richardson is a complete dual threat back who caught 51 passes as a rookie. ... Without broken ribs I think we will get an even better T-Rich in 2013 and he has Top 5 running back potential on Draft Day. ... Weeden was the worst quarterback in the red zone last year and will have to improve dramatically in 2013. He does throw a great deep ball -- which is good for Gordon and Benjamin -- but he has to become more consistent for anyone other than Richardson to be a weekly Fantasy play from the Browns in 2013.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Target Leaders: Mike Wallace (117/7.8 per game), Antonio Brown (106/8.2), Heath Miller (100/6.7)
Catch Rate Leader: Heath Miller (71 percent), Antonio Brown (62.3), Emmanuel Sanders (58.7)
Yards Per Target Leader: Emmanuel Sanders (8.3), Heath Miller (8.2)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Heath Miller (1.3), Mike Wallace (1.1)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Ben Roethlisberger -- 26.9 percent touchdown rate (67 opportunities/18 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Jonathan Dwyer (24/two touchdowns)
Red Zone Target Leader: Heath Miller (20/seven)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Antonio Brown (44 percent), Heath Miller (35 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Ben Roethlisberger -- 47.6 percent (21 opportunities/10 touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Jonathan Dwyer (five/one)
Goal Line Target Leader: Heath Miller (nine/four)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Leonard Pope (100 percent)

The biggest question for the Steelers headed into 2013 will be how do they replace Miller, who tore his ACL in Week 16. ... Miller led the team in receptions, red zone touchdowns, catch rate and tied for the lead in touchdowns as the team's most efficient pass catcher. ... Pope did score on both of his red zone targets and if he is the starting tight end, keep an eye on him in touchdown-heavy formats. ... Brown led the team in targets per start for the second straight year and finally figured out how to score as he found the end zone in three of his last four games. Brown converted four of his team high nine red zone targets into scores, a great stat to build on for 2013. ... Wallace set career lows in yards per catch (13.3) and yards per target (7.2) and when you consider he was at 18.7 and 10.9 respectively, this is a massive drop off. His yards per catch and yards per target have decreased in each of the last two seasons. Wallace also only converted three of his 17 red zone targets into touchdowns. He did score five more touchdowns from 21 or more yards, so he can make plays, but he was not a dominant vertical receiver in 2012 and that is a trend that has been the case ever since Brown stepped up in the second half of 2011. In fact, Wallace has just two games with 100 yards receiving in his last 25 games. ... Sanders appears poised to step up if needed on a full time basis with a solid 8.3 yards per target average, but he has not really produced in limited starting chances in the past and must get better in the red zone than he was in 2012 (one score on five targets). ... The ground game was horrendous in the red zone this year and it will be interesting to see who is the lead dog in 2013. Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall combined to score just five touchdowns on 49 red zone carries.

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Player News
Report: Patriots hoping to sign Darrelle Revis to long-term extension
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:52 pm ET) The Patriots are reportedly looking to sign cornerback Darrelle Revis to a long-term extension, according Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

However, New England has not ruled out paying Revis the $20 million team option in 2015, Rapoport reports. The decision needs to be made by April 1, when a $12 million roster bonus kicks in for Revis.

Revis totaled 47 tackles in 16 games for the Patriots, grabbing two interceptions and forcing one fumble.


C.J. Spiller expecting 'March Madness' style free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:44 pm ET) Bills running back C.J. Spiller is getting healthy again. Spiller, who has fully recovered from a shoulder injury, just ended the final season of his contract and is looking at his options for next season.

"Physically, I’m back to 100 percent, back to doing normal activities," Spiller told The Post and Courier on Friday. "As far as football, free agency will start in March, and I’ll get with my people next week and get a game plan together."

Spiller has played five seasons for the Bills, only playing two full years. He ran for 1,244 yards in 2012 with six touchdowns.

"I guess you could say it’ll be March Madness," Spiller said with a smile. "It’ll be a fun March."


Report: Rams among teams interested in trade for Eagles' Foles
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) Teams are beginning to show interest in Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, as reports are surfacing Philadelphia is unsure of what to do with the third-year quarterback, per NJ.com. A source said the Rams have interest in Foles should the Eagles choose to trade him this offseason. 

The Titans and Texans have also been mentioned as teams that would have interest in Foles, if he hits the trade market.

It's still unclear if the Eagles would be willing to move Foles. NJ.com reported last week the Eagles, who have the 20th pick in the NFL Draft, are considering making a run at Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in the draft. 

"From No. 20, it's certainly not going to be easy,'' a source said. "It's probably going to take moving up twice to do it. There's going to be some wheeling and dealing involved.

"Can it happen? I don't know. But they're going to try."

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly recruited Mariota to Oregon and coached him for two years.

"Obviously, [with] my relationship with coach Kelly, it'd be a lot of fun to be a part of that offense and be a part of that team," Mariota said when asked about a potential reunion with Kelly.

Foles is 15-9 as a starter in the NFL, but he has yet to play a full season. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 6,753 yards, 46 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.


Colts' Luck on new contract: 'There's nothing there right now'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:01 am ET) An ESPN report surfaced last week stating the Colts were working on making quarterback Andrew Luck the highest-paid player in the NFL. When asked about the subject at the Pro Bowl, Luck seemed surprise when he heard the news.

"There's nothing there right now," Luck said, per The Indianapolis Star. "I didn't think about it all during the season and it's only been a few days since it ended. I haven't thought about it. I will have conversations with my agent just because you have to prepare, but I'm not sure where that report came from."

Luck has two years remaining on the $22 million deal he signed as a rookie in 2012. It includes a team option for 2016, which must be exercised later this year.

Luck just completed his third season in the NFL. He has been to the Pro Bowl every year he's been in the NFL. He's gone 11-5 in every season as an NFL starter. He threw for a career-best 40 touchdowns in 2014 and led Indianapolis to the AFC title game this season.


Seahawks' Sherman disappointed he won't receive gifts from Pro Bowl
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:48 am ET) In case you missed Sunday's Pro Bowl, Team Irvin knocked off Team Carter, 32-28, thanks to a second-half rally, which included touchdown catches by Emmanuel Sanders and Jimmy Graham.

While many Pro Bowl players that made the original roster were absent from the game due to injuries, Pro Bowl players from the Patriots and Seahawks also did not play due to preparations for next Sunday's Super Bowl.

One player who seemed upset about missing the Pro Bowl was Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. However, it was for a reason you probably wouldn't suspect.

“Only thing I’m disappointed in is they won’t give us our gifts from the Pro Bowl, which is kind of dumb,” Sherman said, per The Boston Globe. “The NFL is the only league that punishes the players who actually make the All-Star game by not giving them their gifts. It’s supposed to be watches and some other stuff, but we don’t get them so I couldn’t tell you.”


Patriots' Tom Brady on Deflategate: 'My feelings got hurt'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:33 am ET) If you have been out of the loop for the last week, then you might be unaware the Patriots have been under a lot of scrutiny since the AFC title game due to improperly inflated footballs used against the Colts. The media hoopla has transformed the controversy into what we know as Deflategate.

If you haven't been out of the loop, then you are well aware of the nonstop coverage it has received the last week and despite the Patriots pleas for it to go away, it just won't.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has had to deal with the backlash from Deflategate, and he found himself talking about the subject again Monday morning during an interview with WEEI.

“It’s all speculation,” Brady said. “I’ve tried to wrap my head around it, too. I’ve done that and I’m trying to move past that, because I continue to try to rehash things. I personalized a lot of things and thought this was all about me, and my feelings got hurt. Then I moved past it, because it’s not serving me. What’s serving me is try to prepare for the game ahead. I’ll deal with whatever happens later. I’ll have my opportunity to try to figure out what happened and figure out a theory like everyone else is trying to do. But this isn’t the time for that. Honestly, I’m not interested in trying to find out right now, because we have the biggest game of our season ahead.”

One topic Brady didn't have a problem addressing was the speculation coach Bill Belichick threw him under the bus during a press conference on Thursday. But Brady came to the defense of Belichick, who has won three Super Bowls as the Patriots coach.

“I’ve never once felt that we’re not on the same page,” Brady said. “He’s a great coach. He’s the only coach I’ve ever played for; he’s the only coach I’d ever want to play for. There’s a lot of people over the years that have criticized him, but I’d say there’s not one player who’s ever played for him who’s not had an unbelievable amount of respect for him and how he prepares and his diligence and his preparation."


Giants' Odell Beckham says he played with hamstring tears
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:24 am ET) Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham said he played all season with two tears in his hamstrings, according to the New York Daily News.

Beckham took part in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, but admitted he's still not fully healed. Beckham said the injuries prevented him from getting to that "last gear that I wanted to have." He added that the injuries really bothered him against the Eagles and Colts. Beckham said he was "stumbling" and falling over during those games. He added that he's not sure whether he'll ever be 100 percent again.

The rookie had a tremendous season, hauling in 91 balls for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. 


Patriots' Tom Brady meeting with NFL after Super Bowl 49
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(1/25/2015) Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn't expect to meet with the NFL until after Super Bowl XLIX, according to NFL.com.

The Patriots have been in the headlines all week due to Deflategate, and it appears the situation won't be resolved until after the season. "I believe they're going to do [a meeting] after the season," Brady said. "So we'll deal with it after this game. I think everybody is locked in, ready to go for the Super Bowl." Both Brady and coach Bill Belichick have held separate press conferences during the week to deny the team's involvement in deflating their footballs. 

The Patriots are subject to punishment from the NFL if the league finds any wrongdoing during the investigation. 


Earl Thomas on bad shoulder: 'I'll still play fearless'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who dislocated his shoulder in the NFC Championship Game, could remain limited in practice this week ahead of the Super Bowl, reports the Seattle Times. But he said he won't be thinking about the injury against the Patriots.

"When I come alive nothing is limited,’’ he said. “I’ll still play fearless, throw my body around, and let whatever happens, happens.’’

Thomas did allow that he might have to rely more on his teammates.

“My mindset is I have an opportunity to really trust my teammates,’’ he said. “This is the first game I’m going to have to trust them because of my injury. So I really, really, really trust my teammates, and that’s what I’m banking on, my teammates doing what they need to do and I need to come through myself.’’

It's unclear if Thomas will need offseason surgery.

The Seahawks are 1-point underdogs after opening as 2.5-point favorites.


Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck pondering retirement
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(1/25/2015) Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck told ESPN.com he's not sure if he'll retire or return for a 17th season. Hasselbeck, 39, appeared in four games this season and played well, posting a 102.6 passer rating.

He's set to hit unrestricted free agency.


 
 
 
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