Tricks of the Trends after Week 5
Plenty of interesting observations to be made with the latest target and red zone data. Our Nathan Zegura shares his take on what jumps out at him in his Tricks of the Trends.
Here is a deep dive behind some of the key statistics (targets, red zone and goal line) for Fantasy success to help give you a little edge in your weekly quest for victory.
Every team in the NFL has played four games at this point, so let's take a look at some of the early season winners and losers when it comes to efficiency, or lack thereof, for the top pass catchers in the league.
• Among the 60 most targeted receivers, here are the leaders in target conversion rate: Randall Cobb (88 percent), Mario Manningham (82.6 percent), Percy Harvin (79.2 percent), Wes Welker (73.1 percent) and Michael Crabtree (71.1 percent). Now for those who have the worst catch rate: Justin Blackmon (39.4 percent), Greg Little (40.7 percent), Josh Gordon (40.9 percent), Vincent Jackson (42.1 percent) and Steve Johnson (45.7 percent).
• Among the 60 most targeted receivers, here are the leaders in yards per target average: Jeremy Kerley (12.7), Torrey Smith (11.6), Demaryius Thomas (11.2), Roddy White (10.7) and Malcom Floyd (10.5). Now for those who have the lowest yards per target average: Greg Jennings (3.5), Justin Blackmon (3.6), Kendall Wright (4.9), Steve Johnson (5.1), and Early Doucet (5.4).
• Finally, let's look at Fantasy points per target, starting with the best among the 60 most targeted wide receivers: James Jones (1.79), Jeremy Kerley (1.79 -- clearly this kid is doing a lot with his looks and is gaining the confidence of his quarterback after seeing a season best nine targets in Week 5), Torrey Smith (1.72), Miles Austin (1.66) and Mike Williams (1.55 -- so yes the acquisition of Vincent Jackson has really helped his efficiency). Now here are the players that are literally doing the least with the most: Justin Blackmon (0.36), Early Doucet (0.54), Michael Jenkins (0.56), Emmanuel Sanders (0.62) and Greg Jennings (0.63).
• After seeing 12 targets in Week 3, Brandon Lloyd has seen just 12 targets in his last two games combined. No wonder then that Lloyd has only caught six passes for 84 yards and a score over the last two weeks. Meanwhile, teammate Wes Welker has seen 26 targets in the last two games and has caught 22 of them for 233 yards and a touchdown of his own. With Aaron Hernandez coming back into the mix, you have to wonder how consistent Lloyd's targets will be going forward. Welker has proven himself to once again be indispensable for Tom Brady, so I don't think we have to worry that he will go back to just five targets like he had in Week 1.
• Torrey Smith needs to get the ball! In the two games where he saw 10 targets, Smith produced a grand total of 12 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns. In the other three games, Smith has seen a total of 12 targets and has produced only 146 yards on seven catches. In fact, all 10 of Smith's career touchdowns and all three of his career 100-yard receiving games have come in games where Smith has seen at least seven targets. In other words, hey Joe Flacco, get your superstar receiver at least seven targets every single game!
• Andre Johnson is scaring me right now and it really is not his fault. Johnson is averaging just six targets per game, which is tied for 46th among all receivers. Reggie Wayne has only played in four games and has seen 60 targets on the year, compared to just 30 for Johnson. Johnson is averaging a very solid 1.34 Fantasy points per target, so all he needs are the chances to produce and things should work out. I am becoming concerned that with the Texans being a dominant team that loves to run the ball, he may not have many 10-target games like he did in Week 1, when he produced eight of his 17 catches, 119 of his 283 yards and one of his two touchdowns this year. If Johnson does not get 10 targets or produce at a high level against the Packers this week, it will officially be panic time.
• Don't bail on Brian Hartline after last week just because he saw a season-low five targets. He still averaged over 10 yards per target against the Bengals and I think he will see more looks going forward. He could struggle this week against a Rams defense that is giving up just 15.2 points per game to wide receivers, fourth fewest. If he does, I would look to buy low on Hartline.
• As we did with the wide receivers, let's take a look at the best and worst at the tight end position over the first quarter of the season. Here is a look at the leaders in target conversion rate among the 30 most targeted tight ends: Brandon Myers (94.1 percent), Marcedes Lewis (87.5 percent), Tony Gonzalez (83 percent), Heath Miller (79.2 percent) and Fred (76.9 percent). As for the worst at the tight end position in terms of catch rate, they are: Kellen Davis (44.4 percent), Jordan Cameron (50 percent), Tony Moeaki (50 percent), Coby Fleener (52 percent) and the disappointing Antonio Gates (52 percent).
• Among the 30 most targeted tight ends, here are the leaders in yards per target average: Brandon Myers (13.4), Vernon Davis (10.4), Fred Davis (10.2), Owen Daniels (9.4) and Brent Celek (9.3). Now for those who have the lowest yards per target average: Tony Moeaki (4.2), Jacob Tamme (4.9), Benjamin Watson (5.2), Anthony Fasano (5.3) and Jordan Cameron (5.4).
• Finally, let's look at Fantasy points per target, starting with the best among the 30 most targeted tight ends: Vernon Davis (1.87 -- the man needs more looks Alex Smith. We are begging you!), Joel Dreessen (1.73), Heath Miller (1.71), Scott Chandler (1.57) and Owen Daniels (1.49). Now here are the players that are literally doing the least with the most: Tony Moeaki (0.42), Benjamin Watson (0.52), Jordan Cameron (0.54), Coby Fleener (0.56), Antonio Gates (0.57) and Jacob Tamme (0.65).
• No one is complaining about Arian Foster's production early in the 2012 season, but I think we would all like to see him more involved in the passing game. Over the last two seasons Foster averaged 5.6 targets, 4.1 receptions and 42 yards receiving per game. This year, Foster is averaging 3.4 targets, 2.0 receptions and only 12 yards receiving per game. It would be nice to see Foster take less carries and get the opportunity to make plays in space and get tackled by defensive backs rather than linemen.
• Target Leaders by position in Week 5: Wide receiver: Reggie Wayne (20), Marques Colston (18), Brandon Marshall (17), Larry Fitzgerald (15), Wes Welker (15) and Julio Jones (15); Tight end Tony Gonzalez (14), Jacob Tamme (11) and Coby Fleener (9); Running back: Ryan Mathews (8), Darren Sproles (7) and Trent Richardson (7).
• Drew Brees leads all quarterbacks with 44 red zone chances and 12 red zone touchdowns to start the 2012 season. His 44 opportunities are just six fewer than Aaron Rodgers (24), Jay Cutler (14) and Tony Romo (12) have combined!
• Of the 21 quarterbacks with at least 20 red zone chances, only Eli Manning (19.4 percent), Cam Newton (19.2 percent), Carson Palmer (18.2 percent), Matthew Stafford (16.7 percent), Ryan Tannehill (9.5 percent) and Russell Wilson (7.4 percent) are turning less than 20 percent of their chances into touchdowns.
• Darren McFadden (14), Steven Jackson (11), and Chris Johnson (seven) have combined for 32 red zone chances and have yet to score a single touchdown from inside the 20-yard line. By comparison, Arian Foster has 33 red zone opportunities himself and a league-best six scores. That's why Foster is living up to his draft day position and DMC, CJ1Y and S-Jax are not.
• Shonn Greene has seen 14 red zone chances, tied for 11th most at the running back position, but he has only one score on the year. He needs to do more with those chances if he wants to hold onto his job. James Jones leads all pass catchers with five red zone scores on the season. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that they have come on only six targets for an 83 percent scoring rate. He is the only receiver among the 25 most targeted in the red zone with a scoring rate above 50 percent! Is he trying to be this year's Laurent Robinson?
• Call him Marques ladies and gentlemen. Two weeks ago I wrote that I was not too worried about Colston in this space and that he was a great buy-low candidate. Well, all he has done in the last two weeks is haul in four red zone touchdowns on a league-high nine red zone targets. Hope you bought low, because Colston is a touchdown machine and his price is rising faster than gas prices! If he continues to see two red zone targets per game, he will score double digit touchdowns this year and vastly outplay his draft position.
• Despite already having his bye week, Ben Roethlisberger is tied for the lead league with five goal line scores. I wonder how the return of Rashard Mendenhall will impact Ben's numbers up close, because I doubt he will be averaging three goal line passes per game now that the team has a running back it trusts.
• One of the reasons I am starting to worry a little about Maurice Jones-Drew is that with Blaine Gabbert at the helm, Jones-Drew has gotten only one goal line opportunity all season long. He will need some cheap touchdowns to help balance out some tough yardage days on the sputtering Jacksonville offense.
• There are only five runners who have seen three goal line chances and have yet to score: Doug Martin (four), Ryan Williams (four), Darren McFadden (three), Steven Jackson (three) and Bryce Brown (three). I don't like the fact that Brown has only one fewer goal line opportunity than LeSean McCoy.
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