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2012 Target Report: AFC East

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.

Buffalo Bills

Target Leaders: Steve Johnson (148 total/9.2 per game), Scott Chandler (74/4.9), Donald Jones (67/5.6)
Catch Rate Leaders: C.J. Spiller (75.4 percent), Brad Smith (63.6), Donald Jones (61.2)
Yards Per target Leader: C.J. Spiller (8.1), Scott Chandler (7.7)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Scott Chandler (1.26), Brad Smith (1.24), C.J. Spiller (1.02)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Ryan Fitzpatrick -- 24.6 percent touchdown rate (69 opportunities/ 17 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: C.J. Spiller (21/four touchdowns)
Red Zone Target Leader: Steve Johnson (17/three)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Scott Chandler (50 percent), Donald Jones (25 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Ryan Fitzpatrick -- 44.4 percent (18 opportunities/eight touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Fred Jackson (five/two)
Goal Line Target Leader: Steve Johnson (four/zero)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Lee Smith (100 percent), Scott Chandler (67 percent), Brad Smith (67 percent)

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The Bills were one of the most inefficient passing teams in 2012 as not a single tight end or wide receiver caught at least 65 percent of their targets or averaged 8.0 yards per target. ... If you need another reason to like Spiller take a look at his efficiency in the passing game. Spiller led the Bills with a 75.4 percent catch rate and led the 40 most targeted running backs in the NFL with an 8.1 yards per target average. ... Chandler was solid in the red zone with a 50 percent touchdown rate but needs to be more involved in the red zone if he is ever going to be Fantasy relevant. That's why Chandler had a Fantasy-killing six games of three or fewer points. ... Johnson was only successful in 2012 due to his large target volume. In fact, Johnson saw twice as many targets as everyone else on the Bills in 2012. He struggled in every available metric and if he were to see a decrease in targets or efficiency next year, he would really be a bust candidate. Johnson caught only 53.4 percent of his targets and averaged just 7.0 yards and 0.95 points per target. Johnson also struggled in the red zone with only three scores on 17 targets. If things change in Buffalo, he could see his 1,000-yard streak of three seasons come to an end.

Miami Dolphins

Target Leaders: Brian Hartline (131 total/8.2 per game), Davone Bess (105/8.1), Anthony Fasano (68/4.2)
Catch Rate Leader: Daniel Thomas (68 percent), Reggie Bush (67.3), Davone Bess (58.1)
Yards Per target Leader: Brian Hartline (8.3), Rishard Matthews (7.6), Davone Bess (7.4)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Charles Clay (1.01), Anthony Fasano (0.93), Brian Hartline (0.87)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Ryan Tannehill -- 18.9 percent touchdown rate (53 opportunities/10 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Reggie Bush (23/three)
Red Zone Target Leader: Anthony Fasano (13/five)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Jorvorskie Lane (50 percent), Anthony Fasano (38.4 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Ryan Tannehill -- 46.7 percent touchdown rate (15 opportunities/seven touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Daniel Thomas (nine/four)
Goal Line Target Leader: Anthony Fasano (seven/four)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Jorvorskie Lane (100 percent), Anthony Fasano (57.1 percent), Daniel Thomas (44 percent)

Tannehill was not the most accurate quarterback as a rookie, but he showed the ability to get the ball down the field to his top target Hartline, who topped 1,000 yards and averaged 8.3 yards per target. ... Hartline had 253 yards and his only touchdown in Week 4 against Arizona, so he averaged just 55.3 yards per game in the other 15. ... Hartline did not score a single touchdown on 12 red zone targets and is much better suited to be a No. 2 receiver. ... Hopefully the team lands Greg Jennings as has been speculated, giving Tannehill a legit No. 1 receiver. ... Bess caught a career-worst 58.3 percent of his targets, but that should go up if he gets to move back into the slot in 2013 as Tannehill progresses as a quarterback. ... Should Reggie Bush move on, both Daniel Thomas (68.2 percent catch rate and 7.0 yards per target) and Lamar Miller (75 percent catch rate and 5.6 yards per target) look capable of stepping up in the passing game. ... The bottom line is that if there is going to be a weekly Fantasy play in the Miami passing game in 2013, that name is not currently on this roster. ... Chad Johnson wanted me to note that he is "still open."

New England Patriots

Target Leaders: Wes Welker (175 total/10.9 per game), Brandon Lloyd (131/8.2), Aaron Hernandez (83/8.3), Rob Gronkowski (79/7.2)
Catch Rate Leader: Danny Woodhead (72.7 percent), Rob Gronkowski (69.6), Wes Welker (67.4), Julian Edelman (65.6)
Yards Per target Leader: Rob Gronkowski (10.0), Danny Woodhead (8.1), Wes Welker (7.7)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Rob Gronkowski (NFL-Best 1.84), Julian Edelman (1.3), Danny Woodhead (1.14)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Tom Brady -- 29.8 percent touchdown rate (94 opportunities/28 touchdowns - second in NFL)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Stevan Ridley (62/12) -- both second in NFL
Red Zone Target Leader: Wes Welker (18/five), Rob Gronkowski (17/eight)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Rob Gronkowski (47.8 percent), Aaron Hernandez (33 percent), Julian Edelman (33 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Tom Brady -- NFL-best 68.2 percent (22 opportunities/NFL-best 15 touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Stevan Ridley (20/eight -- third most in NFL)
Goal Line Target Leader: Rob Gronkowski (eight, five -- most in NFL)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Wes Welker (100 percent), Julian Edelman (100 percent), Rob Gronkowski (62.5 percent), Aaron Hernandez (60 percent), Shane Vereen (60 percent)

Make no mistake about it, Gronkowski was every bit as dominant in 2012 as he was in his record-setting 2011 season. Gronk led the NFL by averaging 1.84 points per target, which was just about the same as the 1.88 he averaged in 2011. Let's hope Gronk can bounce back from his broken arm and be the star he was pre-injury. ... Should Welker depart in the offseason and Edelman recover from his injury, there is good evidence to support a breakout in 2013. Edelman caught a similar percentage of his passes to Welker (65.6 vs. 67.4), was similar in terms of yards per catch (11.2 vs. 11.5) and yards per target (7.34 vs. 7.74). Edelman did out-produce Welker in terms of Fantasy points per target 1.3 to 0.98 thanks to scoring three times on 32 targets as opposed to just six scores on 175 targets for Welker. ... Hernandez set career lows in terms of catch rate (61.4), yards per catch (9.5), yards per target (5.82) and Fantasy points per target (0.94) in 2012 but still averaged a healthy 7.8 points per game. If Hernandez can get back to his past efficiency levels, he could blow up in 2013. ... Lloyd was a big disappointment in 2012, catching a team-worst 56.6 percent of his targets, which is tough to do when Brady is your quarterback. Lloyd finished the year with seven games of five Fantasy points or fewer and as a result, he will enter 2013 with plenty of upside and a very cheap price tag. Still, he did not improve one bit as the season wore on and you have to be careful when drafting him. ... Woodhead was fantastic in his role again and was actually second on the team at 8.1 yards per target and third at 1.14 points per target. ... Vereen is ready to step up if called upon, averaging 11.4 yards and 1.6 points per target in limited action. Vereen also caught five passes for 83 yards and two scores in his first playoff game, so he has tremendous big-play ability in the passing game. ... Ridley was a touchdown machine in the red zone and at the goal line and that will continue in 2013, making him very reliable despite playing for Bill Belichick. ... Finally, Brady is "Tom Terrific" for a reason and will remain a top option, despite not being a trendy runner/passer at the quarterback position. His prowess in scoring situations is almost unparalleled and this New England offense is as good as any in the game today.

New York Jets

Target Leaders: Jeremy Kerley (95 total/5.9 per game), Jeff Cumberland (53/3.5), Santonio Holmes (41/10.2), Dustin Keller (36/4.5)
Catch Rate Leader: Dustin Keller (77.8 percent), Chaz Schilens (68.3), Shonn Greene (63.3)
Yards Per target Leader: Dustin Keller (8.8), Jeremy Kerley (8.7)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Dustin Keller (1.2), Jeremy Kerley (1.0)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Mark Sanchez -- 19.6 percent touchdown rate (51 opportunities/10 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Shonn Greene (47/eight)
Red Zone Target Leader: Jeremy Kerley (10/two)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Santonio Holmes (50 percent), Jeff Cumberland (33 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Mark Sanchez -- 28.6 percent (14 opportunities/4 touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Shonn Greene (19/seven -- fourth most)
Goal Line Target Leader: Jeff Cumberland, Chaz Schilens (three/one)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Bilal Powell (60 percent), Dustin Keller (50 percent)

The only bright spot on this team from an efficiency standpoint was Keller, who caught 77.8 percent of his targets while averaging 8.8 yards and 1.2 Fantasy points per target. Keller is a free agent and should he end up in a favorable situation (while staying healthy) he could put up massive numbers in 2013. ... Kerley was a nice surprise and posted a solid 8.7 yards and 1.0 points per target in 2012. If the team can get a legit No. 1 receiver (and an NFL caliber quarterback), I think Kerley could do well in a supporting role and produce No. 3 receiver numbers for Fantasy owners. ... Holmes was the top target when healthy, seeing over 10 targets per game, but had just one game of 10 Fantasy points out of his four starts. Holmes has 10 Fantasy points in just three of his last 14 games in New York. ... Rookie Stephen Hill showed some flashes as a rookie, but will have to massively improve on his 44.7 percent catch rate and 5.3 yards per target average if he wants to be any kind of a Fantasy factor. ... Keep an eye on Cumberland should Keller depart. Cumberland produced 50 yards or a touchdown in four of his last five games with at least four targets in 2012. ... Greene was not pretty, but he was a solid red zone scorer in 2012 and punched in eight red zone touchdowns (tied for seventh in the NFL). Greene scored seven times at the goal line -- fourth most in the NFL -- although Powell (three scores on five carries) was the more efficient goal line runner. For a third-down back, Powell was dreadful in the passing game, catching just 47 percent of his targets and gaining 3.8 yards per target. ... The Jets were an anemic passing attack in 2012 and I would not at all be surprised if that was the case again in 2013, but keep Holmes on your radar as a backup receiver on Draft Day if he returns as the top dog for the Jets.

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Player News
'Humbled' Richardson explains 2013, promises a better 2014
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:21 pm ET) Colts running back Trent Richardson spoke openly about his disappointing 2013 season, saying that it took him too long to learn a new playbook and get over leaving Cleveland after Week 2. Richardson also told the official team website that he's planning to do everything within his power to be as prepared as possible for 2014. 

"Y'all will see a big significant difference in the way I play, the speed. I won't have to think about a lot of stuff," Richardson said earlier this offseason. "It's going to be big -- timing with the offensive line, timing with Andrew (Luck), just knowing a lot more with the program, the whole system.

"They haven't seen everything they're going to get out of me yet. A lot of it is going to come next year. A lot of it is going to come in the offseason. I'm going to put in a lot of work, as I've been doing this whole season. This season humbled me. ... This season was a lesson to me."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano has had Richardson's back, says the running back, and the coach stressed back in March that his running back's involvement in the offseason program will be key. 

"It's going to be very, very important for (Richardson) to be here for the offseason program and to dive into this thing full steam ahead, which he will," Pagano said. "He wants to be great. He's got all the talent. He's got all the ability. We would have never done what we did if we didn't believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign."


Saints bring back Robert Meachem
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:06 pm ET) The Saints announced Friday that the club has re-signed veteran free agent wide receiver Robert Meachem to a one-year contract.

Meachem is a seven-year NFL veteran who was originally the club's first round draft pick (27th overall) in 2007. He re-signed with the Saints prior to the start of the 2013 regular season and appeared in 15 games with five starts. He finished with 16 receptions for 324 yards with two touchdowns.

Meachem said signing with the Saints now should help with his preparations as he will be able to take part in the team's offseason conditioning program, OTAs and mini-camp. Plus, "this is home," he said.


Can Chris Johnson turn into Tomlinson?
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:12 am ET) The Jets are hoping running back Chris Johnson can do for them what LaDainian Tomlinson did in 2010, reports ESPN.

That season, Tomlinson came from San Diego to New York after he was released. He responded with a team-high 914 yards with six touchdowns on 219 carries and caught 52 passes. He was supposed to be Shonn Greene's backup, but Tomlinson was so impressive that he won the starting job and became an integral part of a team that came within one game of the Super Bowl.

Maybe Johnson, who was let go by the Titans, can do the same thing.

"I can turn the bad things people are saying into a good thing for me, to give me motivation, to keep me hungry and to keep a chip on my shoulder and prove the naysayers wrong," he said Thursday.

Johnson had a disappointing year in 2013 when he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, but he played 13 games on a torn meniscus and was running behind a suspect offensive line for a team that didn't have its starting quarterback for half the season. The situation in New York should be improved, and hopefully being teamed with Chris Ivory will allow him to play like Tomlinson did in 2010.


Aikman worried about Tony Romo
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:01 am ET) Former Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman is worried about current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo coming off back surgery, reports the team's official website.

Romo, 34, is coming off back surgery in December, which was the second procedure on his back in a year.

"I came back in a relatively short period of time because of when I had my surgery, so he's at least afforded more time to get ready," Aikman said. "But having said that, two back surgeries in less than a year at his age, I would be a bit concerned.

"I'm hopeful that he's able to come back -- everybody is. This team won't be the same if he's not able to. I anticipate that he will come back. But to say that, 'Hey, he's ahead of schedule and everything's going fine,' I'm not sure how you can really measure that here in April."


Bengals, A.J. Green not talking extension - yet
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:54 am ET) The Bengals are expected to exercise the fifth-year option on receiver A.J. Green's contract by May 3, reports Pro Football Talk. But the sides have yet to discuss a long-term contract extension, according to the report.

The Bengals hold the rights to Green through the 2015 season. And in 2016, if a long-term deal hasn't been signed yet, the Bengals can use the franchise tag on Green for that season.

The report says Green can force the issue by trying to boycott offseason workouts or hold out from training camp. But Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is confident Green will be there.


Chris Snee will give it a shot this spring
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:52 am ET) Giants guard Chris Snee will attempt to go through the Giants offseason program once he's healthy, the New York Daily News reports. Snee had hip surgery last season and an elbow surgery earlier this year. There is no timeline for him to be at 100 percent but he is expected to be on the field for the "bulk" of offseason activities. 

Report: Niners won't release Aldon Smith
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:50 am ET) The 49ers might expect a suspension for pass rushing linebacker Aldon Smith, but they are not planning to release him, NFL Network reported on Friday.

Smith was arrested recently for making false bomb reports at a Los Angeles airport, the latest of a string of troubles for the highly talented linebacker. He was also arrested for suspicion of DUI in January, 2012 and again September, 2013. He also had marijuana on him during that September arrest. In October, 2013 he was charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon. 


Russell Allen among Jaguars' latest releases
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:43 am ET) On Thursday the Jaguars released veteran linebacker Russell Allen along with Will Pericak , D'Aundre Reed and Jabin Sambrano, ESPN reported. Allen was released with a failed physical designation, a sign that he might not quite be over the effects of a concussion suffered late last season. 

Ravens reinstate Rolando McClain
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:41 am ET) Despite a poor workout earlier this month the Ravens have reinstated linebacker Rolando McClain from the reserve/retired list, NFL.com reports. It remains to be seen if McClain has a legitimate chance of staying on the roster this summer. 

J.J. Watt locked up through 2015
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer
(9:39 am ET) The Texans have exercised their option to keep defensive end J.J. Watt on the roster through the 2015 season. The Houston Chronicle believes that Watt won't even play under the terms of that fifth year (roughly $10.6 million guaranteed) because the Texans will agree to a long-term extension with him before then. 

 
 
 
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