Tricks of the Trends after Week 6
Here is a deep dive behind some of the key statistics (targets, red zone and goal line) for Fantasy Football success to help give you a little edge in your weekly quest for victory.
• When you consider that James Jones has not seen more than seven targets in a single game, it becomes even more amazing that he has seven touchdowns this season. One of every 5.1 passes that Aaron Rodgers has attempted to Jones this year has resulted in a touchdown, which is a mindboggling NFL best 18.9 percent touchdown rate. Week 7 will see the irresistible force against the immovable object though as Jones heads to St. Louis and takes on a Rams pass defense that has allowed a league-low two wide receiver scores all year. Keep in mind that Jones himself has two touchdown catches in three straight games, so something has got to give.
• Is Dez Bryant finally becoming the superstar we had hoped he would be? Bryant has seen double-digit targets in each of his last two games and has responded by catching 21 of those 28 looks (75 percent) for 200 yards and two touchdowns. For his career, Bryant has seen at least 10 targets in five games now. In those five games, he has never been below eight catches, has four touchdown catches and averages nearly 13 Fantasy points per game. Looks like all he needs are the chances, so hopefully Tony Romo continues to feed the beast.
• A.J. Green is not only seeing a ton of targets (68 to be exact, which is third in the NFL), but he is being remarkably efficient with them. Green has caught 43 passes (tied for third) for a league high 628 yards and six touchdowns (second to Jones). He is the No. 1 Fantasy receiver and is doing it with high volume and extreme efficiency, despite not having a viable second receiver to take away some defensive pressure. Green is catching 63.2 percent of his targets, averaging 9.2 yards per target and his 1.45 points per target is the best among the 20 most targeted receivers in the league.
• I knew Julio Jones would cut into Roddy White targets and dominance of the football in Atlanta this year, but I did not expect that Jones' emergence would turn White into one of the most efficient receivers in the league. Before 2012, White was a high volume receiver who depended on his 10-plus targets per game to produce because he was always in the 55 to 60 percent catch rate range and was not typically above 8.0 yards per target or 1.0 Fantasy points per target. This year, White is making the most of the defensive attention drawn by Julio and through six games, he is setting career marks in catch rate (69.8 percent), yards per target (10.4) and Fantasy points per target at 1.5. He is in the Top 4 in all three categories among the 40 most targeted receivers on a per game basis and if he keeps this up, White and Jones both have a great shot at Top 5 finishes at the receiver position. I would, however, like to see them both score in the same game! So far, Jones has scored in every odd numbered week and White has taken the evens.
• In the first week without Danny Amendola , it sure seems like both Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens will be given the chance to produce. Gibson led the team with nine targets and caught seven of them for 91 yards, which is a very solid day. Givens meanwhile, who is averaging 28.1 yards per catch on the season, saw seven targets of his own and caught three of them for 85 yards. In fact, Givens has totaled 188 yards receiving on his last five catches alone! Look for Gibson to be the steadier receiver of the two, but there is clearly no denying Givens' big play ability and that's why both are solid "Bye Week Broskis" against the Packers in Week 7.
• Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson are averaging 22.1 and 18.6 yards per catch respectively to start the 2012 season, so there is clearly a big play vibe in Tampa these days. We all knew that was Jackson's calling card, but who knew Williams could be such a big play threat when he did not have to deal with double coverage? In his first two seasons, Williams had just three catches of 40-plus yards in 32 games. In five games this year, he already has three catches of more than 40 yards and two of them have gone for touchdowns. He is averaging a league-high 11.9 yards per target and his 1.83 Fantasy points per target trails only James Jones .
• Andre Johnson finally got the target volume we were looking for in Week 6, as he was the intended receiver on 12 passes. He caught eight passes for 75 yards in the loss to the Packers, but at least we got solid production despite the lack of a touchdown. Hopefully, 10-plus targets will get back to being the norm for Johnson going forward and he should be able to have a solid game against the banged up Ravens.
• You cannot produce without any targets and that's why Brian Hartline had zero points in Week 6. He did not see a single pass and now has only five targets in his last two games combined. His monster week against the Cardinals certainly has teams scheming for Hartline and he could struggle more often than not if he sees double coverage.
• Denarius Moore is one of the five receivers who have seen at least eight targets in every game this year and he is clearly becoming the go to guy for Carson Palmer . After getting his legs back against Miami in Week 2, Moore has not produced fewer than seven Fantasy points in a game and is coming off of his best game, a 104-yard effort with a touchdown against the tough Falcons. Over the last two weeks, Moore has caught 53 percent of his targets (that is good for him) and is averaging 10.2 yards per target and 19.4 yards per catch. He is a dynamic playmaker and after injuries got him off to a slow start, he is living up to his pre-injury, preseason hype.
• Kendall Wright has seen eight or more targets in each of the last five games and is currently 13th in the NFL with 53 targets. He has caught 33 of them, but the catches have only gone for 285 yards or 8.6 yards per catch. That is fine in PPR leagues, but in standard leagues we want to see some of the big play ability that he flashed at Baylor with Robert Griffin III . As long as he continues to be this involved, the big plays will come and Wright is someone to keep an eye on against Buffalo in Week 7.
• Kyle Rudolph has eight touchdown catches in his last 12 games after scoring against the Redskins in Week 6. He leads all tight ends with five scores this year and his 20 percent scoring rate is tied for first at the position with Scott Chandler . Rudolph has produced 60 yards or a touchdown in every game in which he has seen at least six targets this year, so let's hope the purple helmeted Viking continues to see six looks per game from Christian Ponder as he has in each of the last two weeks.
• LeSean McCoy is third among all running backs with 32 targets in 2012, but he is not doing anything with them at all. McCoy is averaging just 4.5 yards per catch, which is horrible for a player of his talent and it is also the worst figure among all runners. McCoy is also dead least at the position with a 3.5 yards per target average despite catching 78 percent of his targets. We have all seen Fantasy Football Today analyst Brian Westbrook run the screen game very effectively in the Andy Reid offense before and you have to hope they can figure it out this year. I am concerned that they will not, unfortunately, as McCoy has seen his yards per catch decrease every single year he has been in the league. The silver lining here is that two of his catches have gone for touchdowns, otherwise we would be doing a lot more talking about McCoy and his struggles this year.
• Target Leaders by position for Week 6: Wide receiver: Dez Bryant (15), Percy Harvin (14), Wes Welker (14), Victor Cruz (13) and Calvin Johnson (13); Tight end: Kyle Rudolph (11), Antonio Gates (10), Heath Miller (9), Aaron Hernandez (9), Rob Gronkowksi (8), Jermaine Gresham (8) and Brent Celek (8); Running back: LeSean McCoy (8), Cedric Peerman (8) and Adrian Peterson (8)
• Robert Griffin III has more red zone rushes (13) than he does red zone pass attempts (12). He also has more red zone rushing touchdowns (five) than passing scores (three). However, the most impressive part of RG III's red zone performance is that only Arian Foster (seven) has produced a higher number of zone rushing touchdowns than the rookie quarterback.
• Tom Brady is usually Tom Terriffic in the red zone, but that has not been the case in 2012. Brady has only thrown for six red zone touchdowns on 34 passing attempts. That's just a 17.6 percent touchdown rate on pass attempts inside the 20, which is half of the 35 percent rate Brady has enjoyed over the last three years. Elite quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers (29 attempts, 11 touchdowns) and Matt Ryan (31 attempts, 12 touchdowns) are producing at the level Brady should be. Hopefully the return of Aaron Hernandez , who already has two red zone scores in basically two games this year, will help Brady get back to throwing a lot of touchdowns from up close.
• Christian Ponder has thrown eight red zone touchdowns this year and five of them have gone to tight end Kyle Rudolph . Even Ponder has been better in the red zone than Brady as his eight scores have come on only 39 pass attempts.
• C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have combined to score four red zone rushing touchdowns on eight combined carries. Spiller has scored on three of his seven rushes from inside the 20, while Jackson is one for one. Both scored from inside the 20 in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals. Jackson did come into the game and get the score at the one yard line, so while both can score in any given week, it seems as though the easy ones will go to Jackson.
• Steven Jackson now leads all runners with 12 combined rushes plus targets inside of the red zone without scoring a touchdown this year. He is close to a score and perhaps it will come this week against the Packers after being stuffed at the one by the stout Miami Dolphins in Week 6.
• James Jones has scored all seven of his touchdowns from inside the red zone this year and he has needed only eight targets to get them. By comparison, Julio Jones and Roddy White have a combined seven red zone scores on 18 targets!
• Vernon Davis has not seen a red zone target since Week 3, despite scoring on both red zone scores this year. He now has 11 red zone targets in his last 22 regular season games, which is a travesty when you consider that he has scored on seven on them. By comparison, Heath Miller has already seen 10 red zone targets this year! Throw Vernon the ball please!
• Ahmad Bradshaw fought the 49ers run defense and he won! Bradshaw was just the third runner to score on the ground in the last 25 games against San Francisco. He is now third in the NFL with eight goal line carries and if he continues to get chances up close, he will have a double-digit touchdown season. Imagine where Bradshaw would be ranked at the running back spot this year if he did not miss the Carolina Panthers game where Andre Brown went nuts! Bradshaw is averaging a healthy two goal line carries per week in his four full games.
• Alfred Morris is getting it done at the goal line. He has scored on three of his four goal line carries this year and none was more impressive than his one yard plunge in Week 6, which was the first rushing touchdown allowed by the Vikings to a running back all year.
• Here is another fun James Jones fact: None of his red zone touchdowns came from inside the five-yard line. In fact, Jones has not even been targeted up close, so if you are an opposing defense and the Packers have the ball between the 20 and six yard-lines respectively; you had better cover Mr. Jones!
• A.J. Green and Roddy White are the only receivers with multiple goal line touchdowns this year, as both have two scores.
• Heath Miller (four) and Kyle Rudolph (three) have a combined seven goal line scores in 2012. No other trio of tight ends have more than six combined scores, so those guys are getting it done in a big way. Only Arian Foster has more goal line scores among non-quarterbacks this year with five and Jackie Battle is tied with Miller for second at four.