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2012 Target Report: NFC North

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 fifth division to examine is the NFC North.

Chicago Bears

Target Leaders: Brandon Marshall (192 total, third in NFL/12 per game), Matt Forte (60/4.0), Alshon Jeffery (48/4.8)
Catch Rate Leaders: Matt Forte (73.3 percent), Brandon Marshall (61.5 percent)
Yards Per target Leader: Brandon Marshall (7.9), Alshon Jeffery (7.7), Earl Bennett (7.7)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Alshon Jeffrey (1.14), Brandon Marshall (1.13)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Jay Cutler -- 22.4 percent touchdown rate (49 opportunities/ 11 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Matt Forte (28/five touchdowns)
Red Zone Target Leader: Brandon Marshall (23, third in NFL/eight touchdowns, fourth in NFL)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Brandon Marshall (34.7 percent), Michael Bush (25 percent), Alshon Jeffery (25 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Jay Cutler -- 15.4 percent (13 opportunities/two touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Matt Forte (eight/two), Michael Bush (seven/five)
Goal Line Target Leader: Brandon Marshall (eight/two)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Michael Bush (71.4 percent)

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The Bears were a one-man show in the passing game in 2013 as Brandon Marshall hauled in 118 passes for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns. No other member of the Bears had more than 375 yards or three touchdowns and Matt Forte was the only other pass-catcher with more than 30 receptions (44). ... Alshon Jeffery flashed some big time talent and is someone to keep an eye on in 2013. Jeffrey led the team with a 1.14 Fantasy points per target average and was tops at 15.3 yards per catch. He must improve on his 50 percent catch rate and his 7.6 yards per target average if he is going to take a major leap. ... Marshall was outstanding in 2012, but it was much more a result of an extreme target volume rather than tremendous efficiency, as he averaged just 7.8 yards and 1.13 points per target, neither of which were Top 20 at the receiver position. ... Forte had 44 catches for 340 yards and one touchdown, all of which were career lows. Look for Forte to get back to the 50-catch and 400-plus yardage level in 2013 under Marc Trestman. Forte continued to struggle at the stripe, scoring on just two of his eight goal line carries. He remains one of the worst goal line backs in the NFL and if Michael Bush is in the mix again in 2013, I would expect the team to lean on the latter in scoring situations after punching in five of his seven goal line carries. The move to Trestman will open up the passing attack in 2013 and I am expecting bigger numbers from Jay Cutler, Jeffery and Forte, along with another stellar season from Marshall, who should be one of the first receivers drafted in all formats.

Detroit Lions

Target Leaders: Calvin Johnson (Led NFL with 204 total/12.8 per game), Brandon Pettigrew (102/7.3), Tony Scheffler (85/5.7)
Catch Rate Leaders: Joique Bell (75.4 percent), Mikel Leshoure (70.8 percent), Ryan Broyles (68.8 percent)
Yards Per target Leader: Ryan Broyles (9.7), Calvin Johnson (9.6)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Ryan Broyles (1.34), Calvin Johnson (1.11), Titus Young (1.11)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Matthew Stafford -- 20 percent touchdown rate (95 opportunities/ 19 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Mikel Leshoure (29/nine touchdowns, fifth most)
Red Zone Target Leader: Calvin Johnson (17/two)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Matthew Stafford as a runner (50 percent), Ryan Broyles (40 percent), Mikel Leshoure (31 percent, third best among the 30 busiest running backs)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Matthew Stafford -- 34.5 percent (29 opportunities/10 touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Mikel Leshoure (seven/six)
Goal Line Target Leader: Calvin Johnson (six/one)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Titus Young (100 percent), Mikel Leshoure (86 percent)

Calvin Johnson set an NFL record with 1,964 yards receiving in 2012, but had an uncharacteristically low five touchdowns. The touchdowns will normalize, and if he has 17 red zone targets in 2013, he will have 10 or more touchdowns once again. ... Mikel Leshoure was a beast in scoring situations, scoring nine times in the red zone, fifth most in the NFL. Leshoure had the third best red zone scoring percentage among the 30 busiest backs inside the 20-yard line. He also scored on six of his seven goal line carries and his 86 percent scoring rate was the second-best in the NFL. Leshoure should be a perennial double-digit touchdown scorer in this high octane offense. ... Ryan Broyles was the team’s most efficient receiver and led in catch rate (69 percent), yards per target (9.7) and Fantasy points per target (1.34). Broyles will have to come back from his second torn ACL in as many years, so temper your expectations for a breakout season. ... Titus Young remains extremely talented, but has serious behavioral issues. Young has 10 touchdowns in his last 19 games, but the Lions and the Rams have already cut him this offseason. If he finds a home, keep an eye on him, but Young may be out of the league. ... Joique Bell hauled in 52 passes for 485 yards and is worth a look in PPR leagues if he remains in his role as the pass-catching back. Personally, I’d like to see the Lions employ someone more explosive in that role and we could have another Darren Sproles emerge in this offense. ... Brandon Pettigrew continued to disappoint with his 9.6 yards per catch and 5.5 yards per target averages in 2012. Pettigrew has to become a more efficient producer in terms of his yardage per opportunity, otherwise he will always post mediocre numbers because he is not a great touchdown scorer. Pettigrew does have 70 or more catches in two of the last three years, but he has not topped five touchdowns in any season. ... Overall, this team needs to become more efficient as only Calvin Johnson and Broyles averaged more than 7.0 yards per target, which is outrageous given this team will throw for 5,000 yards again in 2013. ... I should point out that it is a certainty that both Matthew Stafford and Johnson will see their touchdowns rise in 2013. And if Stafford just gets to 30 touchdowns with his 5,000 yards, he will challenge for a Top 5 spot at the position again next year.

Green Bay Packers

Target Leaders: Randall Cobb (104 total/6.9 per game), James Jones (98/6.1), Jermichael Finley (86/5.4)
Catch Rate Leaders: Randall Cobb (76.9 percent), Jermichael Finley (70.9 percent), Jordy Nelson (67.1 percent)
Yards Per target Leader: Jordy Nelson (10.2), Randall Cobb (9.1), James Jones (8.0)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: James Jones (1.66 best among 60 most targeted receivers), Jordy Nelson (1.6 second best), Randall Cobb (1.38)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Aaron Rodgers -- 30.7 percent touchdown rate, second best in NFL (88 opportunities/ 27 touchdowns, fourth)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Aaron Rodgers (13/one touchdown), Alex Green (12/zero)
Red Zone Target Leader: James Jones (14/11, second most in NFL)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: James Jones (78.5 percent, best among all pass catchers in the NFL), Randall Cobb (50 percent), Greg Jennings (40 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Aaron Rodgers -- 53 percent (19 opportunities/10 touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Aaron Rodgers (four/zero)
Goal Line Target Leader: Greg Jennings (four/three)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Jordy Nelson (100 percent), Randall Cobb (100 percent)

The Packers were the most efficient passing offense in the NFL in 2012. ... James Jones was second in the NFL at 1.66 Fantasy points per target and Jordy Nelson was fourth at 1.6. ... Randall Cobb led the league with a 76.9 percent catch rate and Nelson was ninth at 67.1 percent, while Jones brought up the rear at 65.3 percent which was 17th best. ... Nelson was third in the league at 10.2 yards per target as well, so even though his numbers were not at their 2012 levels, Nelson was one of the most efficient and productive receivers in the NFL in 2012. The blame for his decline lies in the fact that he saw only 73 targets all year, missed time with injury and averaged just 6.1 targets per game. If Nelson saw 10 targets per game, he would have been the No. 1 receiver in Fantasy Football in 2012, so all he needs are a few more chances. ... Randall Cobb was a breakout superstar in 2012 and should continue to get better. He is extremely efficient with a 76.9 percent catch rate and superb 9.1 yards per target and 1.38 points per target averages. Cobb can also run the ball and picked up an extra 132 yards rushing. He was an excellent scorer who found the end zone eight times and converted 50 percent of his red zone scores into touchdowns. Cobb's complete game and high target volume are the main reasons why he is my favorite Green Bay receiver headed into 2013. ... James Jones won’t lead the NFL with 14 touchdowns or convert a ridiculous 78 percent of his red zone targets into scores in 2013. Even with the regression in his touchdown numbers, Jones will still be very involved in an explosive offense and showed very solid hands by catching 66 percent of his targets and averaging 8.0 yards per target. Look for that regression, but Jones is still a solid No. 2 receiver with the expected departure of Greg Jennings. ... DuJuan Harris showed some real life at the end of the year and is a running back sleeper if he is the starter, but this is a passing team. The Packers had a grand total of eight goal line rushes in 2012, fewest in the NFL, and four of them were by Aaron Rodgers. ... Believe it or not, Jermichael Finley had solid metrics in 2012 as he caught 71 percent of his targets and averaged a healthy 7.8 yards per target. The problem for Finley was that he only scored two touchdowns and was targeted just 5.4 times per game. He has talent and could break out at any point in this offense, so he makes for a great upside tight end late on Draft Day in 2013. ... Rodgers is the man and this offense will continue to produce big points for Fantasy owners and investing in a Green Bay receiver is always a good idea.

Minnesota Vikings

Target Leaders: Kyle Rudolph (93 total/5.8 per game), Percy Harvin (85/9.4), Michael Jenkins (72/4.5)
Catch Rate Leaders: Adrian Peterson (78.4 percent), Percy Harvin (72.9 percent)
Yards Per target Leader: Jarius Wright (8.6), Percy Harvin (8.0)
Fantasy Points Per Target Leader: Jarius Wright (1.19), Kyle Rudolph (1.11), Percy Harvin (1.01)
Red Zone Quarterback Performance: Christian Ponder -- 22.9 percent touchdown rate (83 opportunities/ 19 touchdowns)
Red Zone Carry Leader: Adrian Peterson (60/eight touchdowns)
Red Zone Target Leader: Kyle Rudolph (17/nine touchdowns, fourth in NFL and most among tight ends), Percy Harvin (13/three)
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Leader: Kyle Rudolph (53 percent), Jarius Wright (40 percent)
Goal Line Quarterback Performance: Christian Ponder -- 52.6 percent (19 opportunities/ten touchdowns)
Goal Line Carry Leader: Adrian Peterson (18/six)
Goal Line Target Leader: Kyle Rudolph (five/five, most in the NFL)
Goal Line Touchdown Rate Leader: Kyle Rudolph (100 percent), Percy Harvin (50 percent)

Adrian Peterson literally carried this offense on his back in 2012, rushing for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns on 348 carries. Peterson has 10 or more scores in every one of his six NFL seasons. ... Percy Harvin was the other main man for the Vikings, catching 62 passes for 677 yards and three scores in just nine games. Harvin also ran for 96 yards and a touchdown and was on pace for 16 game totals of 110 receptions, 1,203 yards and five touchdowns receiving plus 171 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. Those numbers would have made Harvin the 10th ranked receiver in 2012. He was second in the NFL with a 72.9 percent catch rate in 2012 and was catching nearly seven passes per game for those of you in PPR leagues. Harvin has caught at least 60 percent of his targets and has averaged 8.0 yards per target in every one of his NFL seasons. ... Kyle Rudolph was a touchdown machine, scoring nine times (all in the red zone) and leading all tight ends in red zone touchdowns and goal line touchdowns. He has to become a more consistent yardage threat however, as he was held to fewer than 40 yards in 11 games and was held to 20 or fewer yards and without a touchdown six times (he totaled three Fantasy points in those six games). Rudolph must improve on the following numbers to become a more reliable yardage gainer: catch rate (57 percent), yards per catch (9.3) and yards per target (5.3). If Rudolph can get down the field more effectively, he could become a breakout star because there is no denying his talent in scoring situations and he now has 12 scores in his last 22 games. ... Jarius Wright looked very good while filling in for the injured Harvin, catching 61 percent of his targets and averaging a team high 8.6 yards and 1.19 points per target. Wright likely won’t have much of a role with Harvin healthy, but he is someone to keep an eye on. ... This team is in desperate need of a vertical threat on the outside. Jerome Simpson was a complete bust, averaging 10.5 yards per catch and 5.2 yards per target. No outside receiver with at least 30 targets averaged more than 11.2 yards per catch or 6.2 yards per target and that was a major problem. A credible outside threat will only open things up for Peterson, Harvin and Rudolph, so let’s hope the Vikings address that this offseason.

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Player News
Cardinals' Larry Foote '50-50' on playing in 2015
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Though Larry Foote is on the Cardinals' coaching staff at the moment, he hasn't ruled out a potential return to the team

Speaking to the team's website, Foote said he's "50-50" about playing in 2015. He talked about the factors that could play into whether or not he returns to playing. 

“Draft, what happens with (suspended linebacker) Darryl Washington, stuff like that, how my knee feels (after offseason surgery),” Foote said. “I’ll sit down with (Bruce Arians) and the next couple of months are really going to be the deciding factor.”

If Foote doesn't play, he'll be the linebackers coach for Arizona's upcoming season. He's been adjusting to the role of being a coach this offseason. 

“I am starting to like coaching,” Foote said. “It’s a little tough in the office, eating M&Ms, snacking all day, drinking coffee. I started my diet a couple days ago.”


Panthers pick up option on Luke Kuechly contract
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) What was promised by general manager Dave Gettleman is now official - the Panthers have picked up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly, per the team website.

The two-time Pro Bowler has led the NFL in tackles in two of his three seasons and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. He has racked up 473 tackles since 2012, the most in the NFL.


Ravens TE Dennis Pitta hopeful for 2015 return
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta hopes to take the field in time for the 2015 season, but admits it's too early to determine if that goal can become a reality.

Pitta has undergone surgeries to repair a fractured and dislocated hip in each of the last two years.

"We still have some time to be able to assess where I'm at," Pitta told the Baltimore Sun. "I sure hope that I'll be on the field next year. That's my hope; that's my goal. We'll just see if I can get there."

Pitta has played in just seven games in the last two seasons combined.


Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(4/25/2015) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


 
 
 
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