2012 Target Report: NFC North

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)

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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