Tricks of the trends after Week 4
Why should you try to buy low on Roddy White? Is there any hope for Brandon Marshall? Our Nathan Zegura dissects red zone, target and goal line data to see who could pay off in the coming weeks.
Roddy White is the ultimate buy low wide receiver right now.
I don't know why so many people are down on him, but I am getting bombarded with "Should I trade White?" questions and the answer is an emphatic no.
If you can take advantage of a disappointed White owner, do it and get the Hot Rod ASAP. His only touchdown came in Week 2 against the Eagles and it was also his season low in targets (four), catches (three) and yards (23). In the other three games, he has seen at least 11 targets and has produced at least six catches and 66 yards, which is not terrible by any stretch.
Remember, we said the Falcons could get off to a slow start passing the ball with three of their first four games outdoors. Now, business is about to pick up as the Falcons play 11 of their next 12 games indoors, where Matt Ryan averages two plus passing touchdowns per game for his career. The Hot Rod is about to heat up.
Target observations after Week 4 ...
• Brandon Marshall has a league high seven drops and put an easy 40-plus yard touchdown on the ground last week. He will get that fixed and he is another good buy low candidate, as he ranks seventh in the NFL with 39 targets through four games. See if you can snag him cheaply over his bye week.
• Mike Thomas of Jacksonville is quietly emerging as a good point-per-reception third receiver for your teams. The Jags are going to be behind a lot this year and Thomas is clearly the top target for Blaine Gabbert. Believe it or not, Thomas has 40 targets through four games, tied for fifth in the league. He is a career 70 percent target conversion rate receiver, so look for his current 50 percent catch rate to rise as Gabbert settles into his role.
• Pierre Garcon is clearly the apple of Curtis Painter's eye and he has seen a team high 18 targets over the last two weeks. Now he only caught two of his eight targets in Week 4, but they both went for long touchdowns. He will get more efficient as he gets into a rhythm with his new quarterback, and the switch has done more for his stock than any receiver in Indy.
• Give A.J. Green the ball please! In the two games in which Green has seen at least 10 targets, he has produced like a superstar receiver. Green topped 100 yards in both of those games and turned 24 targets into 14 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown.
• How good is Jordy Nelson? To quote Larry David, I'd have to say he is pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good. Nelson is averaging 19.5 yards per catch, but is still catching 71.4 percent of his targets (seventh) and is averaging 13.9 yards per target (second). No wonder the Packers just locked him up through 2014, because his star is only going to burn brighter.
• Ed Dickson and Jermaine Gresham need to be on your radar screen if you are looking for tight end help. Dickson is fourth among all tight ends with 32 targets and if he can improve his metrics, he could have a big explosion. So far, Dickson is catching just 50 percent of his targets and is averaging 5.6 yards per target. He will improve on those numbers and could sneak into the top 12 at the end of the year if he gets to 65 percent and 7 yards per target. Gresham has seen at least seven targets in three games this year and has produced at least 50 yards every time, with two scores to boot. Love Gresham this week against the Jags if you need a tight end for Week 5.
• Darren Sproles has at least seven targets and five catches in every game this year and has produced at least 10 point-per-reception points in every week just as a receiver.
Yards Per Target Leaders (among qualifying players by position) after Week 4: Wide receiver: Mike Wallace (14.6), Jordy Nelson (13.9); Tight end: Kevin Boss (16.3), Jared Cook (11.5); Running back: LaDainian Tomlinson (11.1) and Ryan Mathews (11.0)
Worst Yards Per Target (among qualifying players by position) after Week 4: Wide receiver: Dexter McCluster (2.6), Austin Collie (2.6) and Legedu Naanee (3.0); Tight end: Zach Miller (4.1) and Brent Celek (4.2); Running back: Beanie Wells (1.5) and Steven Jackson (2.1)
• Eli Manning is not messing around in the red zone and that is why he has eight passing scores in his last three games. For the year, Eli has four red zone scores on nine chances and his 44 percent touchdown rate is the best among all quarterbacks.
• Cedric Benson has two 100-yard rushing games this year, which is nice, but his production in the red zone has been downright criminal. Benson has seen 15 red zone chances and has yet to produce a single touchdown (his lone TD was a 39-yard run in Week 1). Among the 23 runners with at least 10 red zone opportunities, Benson is the only one without a score.
• Wes Welker and Calvin Johnson have combined for nine red zone scores on 17 chances. To put that in perspective, how about this little factoid: Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings, Andre Johnson, Anquan Boldin, Miles Austin, Steve Smith, Percy Harvin, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald and Tampa Bay's Mike Williams have combined for nine red zone touchdowns on 62 targets. Wow.
• Tony Gonzalez has been a beast in the red zone with four touchdowns (tied for first among all tight ends) on eight targets (tied for second). I thought Julio Jones would cut into his red zone looks, but Gonzo could lead tight ends in that category for the second straight year and has double-digit touchdown potential with 11 of his next 12 games indoors.
• Cam Newton has as many goal line rushing touchdowns (four) as the top running back in the category, Mr. Beanie Wells.
• John Kuhn has more goal line touchdowns (two) then James Starks and Ryan Grant have goal line chances combined. Actually Grant and Starks have as many combined goal line chances as I do! For a team that can score at will, that is one of the crazier stats I have seen.
• Michael Bush has three goal line touchdowns this year, tied for second among all running backs. He is always a viable flex option as the goal line back for the best running team in the NFL.
• Can Jimmy Graham be stopped? He can beat you all over the field and inside the five, he has scored on both of his targets. Survey says: No, Jim Graham cannot be stopped!
Target Conversion Rate or Catch Rate (TCR): The percentage
of a player's targets (passes thrown to them) that are converted
into receptions. Over 60 percent is excellent, 66 percent is elite
and under 52.5 percent is worrisome.
Yards per Target (YPT): A player's receiving yards divided by his targets. In other words, the numbers of yards a team gains on average every time they attempt a pass to a certain player. Over 10 is exceptional, over 8 is solid and 6 or lower is horrendous.
Red Zone Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 20 yard line
Red Zone TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Red Zone opportunities that result in a TD
Goal Line Opportunities: A player's total number of pass+rush+targets inside the opponent's 5 yard line
Goal Line TD Rate: The percentage of a player's Goal Line opportunities that result in a TD
Consistency Rate: The percentage of quality starts a player gives you out of 16 games. For QBs that is a game with 300+ yards passing OR multiple TDs. For RBs/WRs: A game with 100+ yards rush/rec or a game with a TD. For TEs: A game with 60+ yards receiving or a TD. For a Kicker: A game with multiple FGs.
Big Game Rate: The percentage of dominant starts a player gives you out of 16 games (games missed with injury count as a bad game since they do not help your Fantasy teams). For a QB that is a game with 300+ yards and 2+ TDs or 200+ yards and 3+ TDs. For a RB/WR that is a game with 100+ combined rush/rec yards and a TD or a game with multiple TDs. For a TE that is a game of 60+ yards and a TD, 100+ yards or a game with multiple TDs.
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