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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
Joe Lombardi: Lions excited to see what Broyles does in offseason
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:57 am ET) The Lions are not yet giving up on wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who has been hampered in his career by knee and Achilles injuries. 

“I think he’s a guy you have a lot of respect for because he’s had three major injuries and fought his way back,’’ Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Tuesday, per The Oakland Press. “When he’s been in there he’s been productive. We’re excited to see where he is now after a full season of not coming back from an injury. He’s had a full year to be healthy we’re excited to see what he does in the offseasaon.’’


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>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


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by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
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McClain made his return to the NFL in 2014 after twice retiring. The former first-round pick thrived in his first season with Dallas, totaling 81 tackles (65 solo), one sack and two interceptions in 13 games. 

Although, he did have some injury issues last season. Knee and groin injuries, as well as an illness forced McClain to miss three regular season games. He was then limited in the playoffs due to a concussion.

McClain remained a sought-after free agent this offseason despite reports he is facing a four-game fine for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Also, an arson investigation into a fire that destroyed his Alabama home in December remains open but inactive.


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by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Texans head coach Bill O'Brien is very encouraged by the performance of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season, per ESPN. O'Brien went as far as to say that Hopkins can be one of the best.

"He had a really productive year," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "The thing that we really like about Hop and that we want him to continue to do is his work ethic. He’s a hungry player. He works every single day. He came into the spring a year ago and he was learning the offense and thinking out there, then all of a sudden you could see all the work he put in and learning, he just took off."

Due to the departure of wide receiver Andre Johnson, the progression of Hopkins will be under the microscope as he is now the focal point of the passing offense.

"We just want to see him continue and progress," O'Brien said. "We think he can be one of the best, we think he is one of the best. We have a lot of confidence in him and we’re looking forward to seeing him progress when the offseason program starts."

In two years with the Texans, Hopkins has reeled in 128 receptions for 2012 yards and eight touchdowns.


Giants won't rush WR Victor Cruz back to the field
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:12 am ET) Although Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is hopeful that wide receiver Victor Cruz will be ready by training camp, the team will not rush him back, reports ESPN.

"I shouldn't say this, because medically I really don't have a definite answer, but by training camp hopefully, even if it's just to bring him," Coughlin said. "We're not going to just throw him to the wind. He'll work his way through. But I hope that would be the target."

Cruz tore his patellar tendon in week six of the 2014 season, causing him to miss the rest of the year. Coughlin is hopeful that he'll return to be the player that he was before the injury.

"I think he'll be the player that he was, and hopefully better," Coughlin said of Cruz. "But as far as when, I would be careful of what I would say there. Hopefully it's the first game. But if it isn't, you know we've done that one before. We just went through it. But I'm hoping it would be."

The former undrafted free agent has tallied 264 receptions for 3,963 yards and 24 touchdowns.


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(3/31/2015) Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's system for the first time last season. The team plans on taking more chances down the field in Stafford's second season in the new offense, Lombardi said, according to the team's official website.

“In his second year (in the offense) he’s going to be that much more comfortable,” Lombardi said.

“We’ll be able to tailor the offense a little bit more to what he likes and what he’s good at. I thought he played smart football and sometimes to a fault. We’ll look for him to maybe take a few more chances this year with the football.”

Although Stafford didn't take many shots down the field, he did throw a career-low 12 interceptions in 2014. 

The former first overall draft pick has thrown for 21,714 yards with 131 touchdowns and 85 interceptions during his six-year career.


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(3/31/2015) Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is not ready to run yet, he told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL. Mathis added that he plans to be ready for the start of training camp.

“It’s not going as fast as I would like to, but we are getting well and we should be clicking in camp,” Mathis told Sirius.

Mathis was suspended for the first four games of last season due to violating the league's substance abuse policy. He then suffered a torn achilles, forcing him to miss all 16 games of the 2014 season.

During his 11-year career with the Colts, Mathis has collected 487 total tackles, 111.0 sacks, 15 passes defensed and 48 forced fumbles.


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(3/31/2015) Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said that tight end Eric Ebron has been working out with quarterback Matthew Stafford in Atlanta this offseason, reports the Detroit News. Lombardi also said that the plan is to have Ebron be the No. 3 weapon in the passing game this year.

Ebron, 21, finished his rookie season with 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown. 

"Listen, there's a big learning curve, obviously, for any rookie. And the tight end position is one that requires a lot," Lombardi said, per MLive.com. "As you look back, if you're self critical, maybe we asked a little too much from him from that perspective. I think there was just a volume that he struggled with early.

"But, listen, he was productive, and for anybody the second year is always where you see the biggest jump."


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(3/31/2015) Eagles running back DeMarco Murray was really hoping to remain with the Cowboys this offseason. So much so, he asked quarterback Tony Romo to take a pay cut to remain with the team, Romo said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning News.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."


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(3/31/2015) Giants quarterback Eli Manning is entering the second year in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's system. Manning is ready to take the next step now that he is familiar with the system, reports the NY Daily News.

““This year will be a much easier transition, knowing that we have been through so much of it already,” said Manning, who recently had been working out at Ole Miss with some of their receivers and alumni. “It’s definitely a different starting point. I feel good about it. I feel that I have a good understanding of it.

“But there is still room to grow and that is why I try to keep it as fresh in my mind as possible. Looking at old game-plan sheets and calling plays in my head – throwing routes with receivers trying to call out plays to myself, so you don’t let it slip away. It was new last year and it wasn’t something I have been doing for 10 years, so you want to keep it fresh and go through your reminders and all your checks. So when we come back I haven’t taken a step backwards and have to re-learn things. It is still all there. There will be new stuff and we will be taking it to another level.”

Manning has started all 16 games in each season since 2005, throwing for 39,755 yards with 259 touchdowns and 185 interceptions.


 
 
 
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