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2012 Target Report: AFC West

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Throughout the year I highlighted various statistical facts and trends in my Tricks of the Trends article. With the year now complete, it is 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 and our fourth division to examine is the AFC West.

Denver Broncos

Target Leaders: Demaryius Thomas (141 total/8.8 per game), Eric Decker (122/7.6), Jacob Tamme (85/5.3)
Catch Rate Leaders: Knowshon Moreno (80.8 percent), Willis McGahee (78.8 percent), Brandon Stokley (77.6 percent),
Yards Per Target Leader: Demaryius Thomas (10.2), Brandon Stokley (9.4), Eric Decker (8.7)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Eric Decker (1.51), Brandon Stokley (1.46), Demaryius Thomas (1.45)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Peyton Manning -- 30.1 percent touchdown rate third best in NFL (93 opportunities/ second in NFL with 28 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Willis McGahee (29/four)
Red Zone Target Leader: Eric Decker (25/12 both most in NFL)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Eric Decker (48 percent), Brandon Stokley (40 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Peyton Manning -- 47.4 percent (19 opportunities/nine touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Willis McGahee (12/four)
Goal Line Target Leader: Eric Decker (six/three)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Jacob Hester (100 percent), Knowshon Moreno (50 percent), Eric Decker (50 percent), Joel Dreesen (50 percent)

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As long as Peyton Manning is piloting this ship, both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker will be Fantasy gold. Thomas is the more explosive of the two and will lead this team in targets, receptions, yards per target (10.2 is studly) and big plays. ... Decker was the go-to man in the red zone, where he led the NFL with both 25 targets and 12 touchdowns. Decker is that safety valve for Manning and had a touchdown in nine of the last 13 games in 2012. ...One of the most impressive facts about the 2012 season is that Thomas, Decker and Stokley are the only wide receiver trio to all average over 1.4 Fantasy points per target; they ranked seventh, eighth and ninth respectively among all receivers with at least 50 targets. In other words, Peyton and his receivers were the most efficient scoring group in the NFL. ... Dreessen and Tamme would have been a good combo tight end, but neither did enough to be reliable week in and week out. Dreessen was actually better than Tamme in terms of catch rate and Fantasy points per target, but averaged only 6.1 yards per target. ...Willis McGahee was the main man before his injury and was supplanted by Moreno. Moreno helped many Fantasy owners win championships and actually had better scoring rates both inside the 20 and inside the five than McGahee in 2012. Whomever ends up as the main runner and goal line back for the Broncos in 2013 will once again be a solid No. 2 runner. ... Thomas is reportedly still learning how to be a complete NFL wide receiver and if he makes more strides in the offseason, he has a shot to be the top Fantasy receiver in 2013.

Kansas City Chiefs

Target Leaders: Dwayne Bowe (114 total/8.8 per game), Dexter McCluster (77/4.8)
Catch Rate Leaders: Shaun Draughn (80 percent), Jamaal Charles (73.5 percent), Dexter McCluster (67.5 percent)
Yards Per Target Leader: Tony Moeaki (8.1), Dwayne Bowe (7.0)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Tony Moeaki (0.92), Dwayne Bowe (0.86)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Matt Cassel 18.2 percent touchdown rate (18 opportunities/ four touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Jamaal Charles (25/one)
Red Zone Target Leader: Tony Moeaki (eight/one)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Dwayne Bowe (25 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Matt Cassel -- 67 percent (three opportunities/two touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Peyton Hillis (four/one)
Goal Line Target Leader: Tony Moeaki (three/one)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Dwayne Bowe (50 percent)

The Chiefs were an historically bad offense in 2012 and Andy Reid will hope to turn that around in 2013. ...Charles had been one of the best red zone scorers in the league (averaged over 2.0 Fantasy points per red zone carry prior to 2012), until he found the end zone on just one of his 25 carries in 2012. Charles will be better in 2013, but a four percent red zone scoring rate is a killer. ... No wide receiver on the Chiefs averaged 7.0 yards or 1.0 points per target in 2012, worst in the NFL. ... Dwayne Bowe was the main man in the passing game at 8.8 targets per game, but he produced just a 52 percent catch rate and averaged 6.9 yards and 0.86 points per target. Bowe has just four touchdowns and two games with 100 yards receiving in his last 24 starts. He had none of either in his last nine games. Bowe could be gone in 2013 and no one seems ready to step up. ... Jon Baldwin caught 42 percent of his targets last year and averaged just 6.91 yards and 0.82 points per target. ... Tony Moeaki was the team's most efficient pass catcher, averaging 8.0 yards and 0.92 points per target. ... The key for the Chiefs will be getting Charles back in the passing game like he was in 2010. That year, Charles caught 45 passes for 468 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 10.4 yards per catch and 7.3 yards per target. In 2012, Charles averaged 6.6 yards per catch and 4.8 yards per target.

Oakland Raiders

Target Leaders: Denarius Moore (114 total/7.6 per game), Brandon Myers (105/6.6), Darrius Heyward-Bey (80/5.3)
Catch Rate Leaders: Brandon Myers (75.2 percent), Marcel Reece (71.2 percent) Yards Per target Leader: Rod Streater (8.0), Brandon Myers (7.7), Darrius Heyward-Bey (7.6)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Darrius Heyward-Bey (1.13), Rod Streater (1.05), Denarius Moore (1.02)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Carson Palmer -- 20 percent touchdown rate (75 opportunities/ 15 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Darren McFadden (31/one)
Red Zone Target Leader: Denarius Moore (15/five)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Denarius Moore (33 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Carson Palmer -- 61.5 percent (13 opportunities/eight touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Darren McFadden (eight/one)
Goal Line Target Leader: Brandon Myers (five/three)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Brandon Myers (60 percent)

Thankfully the zone blocking scheme that hindered Darren McFadden in 2012 will be gone and I expect a bounceback from Run DMC in 2013. ... McFadden was the worst red zone scorer (3.2 percent) among all runners with at least 13 red zone carries. He also had the worst goal line scoring rate among all runners with at least five chances. ... Denarius Moore went from averaging over 10 yards per target as a rookie to just 6.5 in his second season. Moore must catch a higher percentage of his targets (44 percent this year) if he ever wants to become a consistent producer in Oakland. He has been under a 50 percent catch rate in both NFL seasons. Moore did improve in the red zone, catching five touchdowns in 2012 with a 33 percent scoring rate, but must become more consistent between the 20s to realize his full potential. ... No receiver in Oakland caught more than 54 percent of his targets in 2012 and that will have to be fixed for this offense to really click. ... Rod Streater led the team at 8.0 yards per target and Darrius Heyward-Bey was the leader at 1.13 points per target, but neither was elite. ... Myers was the star of this passing game, catching 79 passes for 806 yards and four touchdowns. The fact that Myers caught 75 percent of his targets is even more impressive. He's a free agent and I would love to see him end up in Atlanta (replacing Tony Gonzalez) or Tampa Bay in 2013. ... McFadden also had his worst year as a pass catcher in 2012, averaging a career low 4.1 yards per target. ... The Raiders have some playmakers out wide, but Moore, DHB and Streater -- along with quarterback Carson Palmer -- will need to become more efficient and more consistent to produce steady Fantasy numbers week in and week out, because the potential is there.

San Diego Chargers

Target Leaders: Malcom Floyd (85 total/5.1 per game), Antonio Gates (80/5.3), Danario Alexander (62/6.2)
Catch Rate Leaders: Ronnie Brown (83.1 percent), Ryan Mathews (69.6 percent), Malcom Floyd (65.9 percent)
Yards Per Target Leader: Danario Alexander (10.6), Malcom Floyd (9.6)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Danario Alexander (1.74 -- best among all receivers with at least 60 targets), Malcom Floyd (1.31), Antonio Gates (1.2)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Philip Rivers -- 25 percent touchdown rate (72 opportunities/ 18 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Jackie Battle (16/three)
Red Zone Target Leader: Ronnie Brown (13/zero)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Danario Alexander (67 percent), Antonio Gates (55 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Philip Rivers -- 50 percent (10 opportunities/five touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Jackie Battle (nine/three)
Goal Line Target Leader: Malcom Floyd (three/two)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Malcom Floyd (67 percent)

You know the Chargers offense was messed up when they had four total rushing touchdowns inside the red zone all season long. ... Ronnie Brown was the team's top target in the red zone, but he did not catch one of their 15 red zone passing touchdowns. ... For all of the hate directed at Ryan Mathews, some of the blame has to fall on the coaches, as Mathews had 15 red zone carries all year and did not receive a single carry or target inside the five yard line. In 2011, Mathews scored on four of his five goal line carries. Hopefully the new regime will let Mathews play on third downs and in the red zone, because if they do not, he will be forever known as an injury-prone bust. ... Danario Alexander led all receivers with a 1.74 points per target average and his 10.6 yards per target was also tops in the NFL. Alexander has battled health problems for his entire career, but showed that he can be a dominant receiver in the NFL, catching 37 passes for 658 yards and seven touchdowns in just nine games. Yes, Alexander was the most efficient receiver in the NFL in 2012. ... Malcom Floyd was once again extremely efficient in 2012, catching 65.9 percent of his passes and averaging 9.6 yards and 1.31 points per target (both Top 20 at the position). Floyd just needs more targets, but he has never been able to stay healthy enough to receive them for an extended period of time. ... Antonio Gates was great in the red zone last year with six scores and a 55 percent scoring rate, but his game in the middle of the field is falling off of a cliff. Gates averaged a career low 11 yards per catch in 2012 and his 6.6 yards per target was, you guessed it, also the worst number he has ever produced. If Gates were to fall below seven touchdowns in 2013, his Fantasy production would be crushed because he was held to less than 50 yards receiving in all but three games in 2012. Gates did not reach 50 yards in a single game over the last seven games of the season. ... New head coach Mike McCoy should help this offense, but I am not sure Philip Rivers or Gates will ever be the same and both seem to be on the downside of their respective careers, so buyer beware in 2013.

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Player News
Panthers' Rivera: Cam Newton came out of game in good health
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:47 pm ET) Panthers coach Ron Rivera told reporters Monday that early indications are that quarterback Cam Newton came out of Sunday's game against the Browns in good health, per the team's official website.

Newton, who came off two small fractures in his back sustained in a car accident, completed 18 of 31 for 201 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 63 yards and another score on 12 attempts.

Newton and the Panthers will travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons for the NFC South title. Carolina is currently a 3 1/2-point underdog in Week 17.


Cardinals RB situation a complete mess now
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:38 pm ET) Whether it was because he was limited in practice by a knee injury leading up to the game or because the Cardinals fell behind early and needed more of a pass blocker in the backfield, running back Kerwynn Williams, who had performed admirably the previous two weeks, totaling 175 yards on the ground, was hardly a factor Week 16 against Seattle, getting two carries for 4 yards.

Instead, Stepfan Taylor was the lead ball carrier. Of course, he wasn't so effective in the role, picking up 19 yards on 11 carries, but that's bound to happen for any running back going against the Seahawks. He did at least have 25 yards on two catches. Marion Grice and Robert Hughes also each got a carry, but they haven't been as much of a factor with Andre Ellington out.

Williams seems to be the best rusher of the group and the one you'd prefer to see get the carries in Fantasy, but if the Cardinals are that willing to abandon him when the score isn't in their favor, you can never feel confident playing him in Fantasy. Especially now that the Cardinals are down to their third quarterback, the score isn't going to be in their favor so often.

Week 17 at San Francisco should be a more competitive game, but given that the 49ers are tough against the run as well, you should probably pass on Williams for the season's final week.


Lions DT Nick Fairley (knee) ditches crutches
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:38 pm ET) Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters defensive tackle Nick Fairley is "making good progress" in his recovering from knee injury, per the team's official website. Fairley is no longer in crutches and is not a candidate to land on injured reserve "at this precise moment."

Fairley was stretchered off in Week 8 against the Falcons with the injury. He totaled 14 tackles and one forced fumble.


Doug Baldwin takes advantage of injury
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:27 pm ET) Wide receiver Doug Baldwin hasn't emerged as the Seahawks' clear No. 1 as Fantasy owners had hoped after the team shipped Percy Harvin to the Jets, sometimes taking a back seat to Jermaine Kearse. But after Kearse left early Week 16 at Arizona with a hamstring injury, Baldwin didn't have as much competition for looks, catching seven passes for 113 yards on a season-high 11 targets.

It was his second game in three with more than 90 yards, but it was also just his second in eight with more than 60, to give you some idea how much Kearse has interfered with his production.

Also helping Baldwin in this one was the fact that quarterback Russell Wilson threw for a season-high 339 yards. In the Seahawks' inconsistent passing attack, you couldn't count on Baldwin for consistent production even if he was the clear No. 1.

Still, if Kearse is out for Week 17 against St. Louis, Baldwin deserves a longer look in Fantasy, particularly in leagues that require three wide receivers.


Steelers keeping eye on LB Williams, OT Beachum
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:22 pm ET) Mike Tomlin has stated that the team will monitor Steelers linebacker Vince Williams (ankle) and tackle Kelvin Beachum (back) as it prepares to host Cincinnati in the regular season finale Sunday.

Williams has started just two games, but he has seen increased playing time over the course of the season.


Luke Willson's lack of targets telling
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:13 pm ET) Seahawks tight end Luke Willson had a career performance Week 16 at Arizona, going for 139 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder in the second quarter. But those numbers distract from one just as important: His three catches were his only three targets on the day.

Even with quarterback Russell Wilson attempting more than 30 passes for just the second time in five games, Willson wasn't any more targeted than usual. It's just that two of them happened to result in big plays.

The long touchdown was probably a fluke. He got behind the defense, an oversight on its part, and ran away from everyone after he caught the ball. Big deal. Take it away, and he had two catches for 59 yards and a touchdown -- a good performance by his standards, but nothing that would send Fantasy owners flocking to the waiver wire.

Even though Willson got the numbers, Wilson's preferred targets were wide receivers Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, who had 11 and seven targets, respectively. Those were season highs for each.

If you can't count on them to get consistent looks in the Seahawks offense, you certainly can't count on Willson to. He's had only three games with more than four all season, none in the last three weeks.


Jaguars RB Toby Gerhart still feeling pain in rib
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:00 pm ET) Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart said he is still feeling the rib contusion sustained Thursday against Tennessee, per the Florida Times-Union.

The team has yet to issue an update on his condition, but the problem could prevent him from playing in the season finale Sunday at Houston. If his season is indeed over, he will end it with just 318 yards on 97 carries.

Those are not strong numbers considering he entered the year as the team's featured back.


Jaguars DT Roy Miller still optimistic about playing Week 17
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:52 am ET) Jaguars defensive tackle Roy Miller is still optimistic about playing in Sunday's season finale against Houston, the Florida Times-Union reports. Miller sat out Week 16 against Baltimore with a knee injury. A previous report had him missing the rest of the season and in order to have surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

"I'm trying to get it right and hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday, I'll feel a lot better," Miller said.


Russell Wilson could be in for strong finish
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(11:50 am ET) With the Cardinals struggling to get anything going offensively behind third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley, the Seahawks offense got repeated opportunities to shine Week 16 in Arizona. And quarterback Russell Wilson took advantage, throwing for a season-high 339 yards while rushing for 88. For the second time in three games, he contributed three total touchdowns, two in the air and one on the ground.

The Seahawks have gotten back to winning with their defense in recent weeks, making Wilson at times an afterthought. But when pressed to make plays, he's shown he's still capable of putting up big numbers.

Chances are he'll need to make plays in Week 17 against a Rams team that has played well of late, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Wilson's previous season high in passing yards came in his first meeting with them back in Week 7, when he threw for 313 and ran for 106. Despite his up-and-down tendencies, you'll want him active for the season's final week.


Bears' Trestman will talk to Jimmy Clausen before naming starter
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(11:43 am ET) Bears coach Marc Trestman said Monday morning on WBBM Newsradio 780 that he'll talk to Jimmy Clausen before naming a starter for Sunday's season finale against Minnesota, CBS Chicago reports.

Clausen earned his first start since his rookie year with the Panthers in 2010. He compiled 181 yards while completing 22 of 39 passes. He added two touchdowns and one interception in a 20-14 defeat to Detroit.

"We'll talk about it today," Bears coach Marc Trestman said. "I thought he had a good performance. He needed some help. He didn't get it -- had a few drops along the way, had a couple missed assignments up front in the running game, where we could've had a little bit more yardage. But I thought he handled himself (well), for two practices and having not played (much) for four years. It was certainly a good performance."

Chicago is currently a 6 1/2-point underdog at Minnesota.


 
 
 
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