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Week 5 fantasy red zone targets
Did you enjoy Week 5 of the NFL season? Did those waiver wire pickups or spot plays help you to get through the first of what will be many painful BYE weeks? I caution you to spend some time pondering your roster for Week 7 ahead of the initial waiver bidding process for this week. Many fantasy heroes of 2012 will sit out that week (Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego), so plan accordingly.
Let’s get into the good, bad and ugly from the first 13 games of Week 5. Some will tell you that the script is written for the Monday night finale and that the Texans will steamroll the Jets. On paper, it certainly appears that the Texans post a huge number and roll into the Week 6 matchup against the Packers. But, they don’t play games on paper. Well, we do. I’m getting ahead of myself. Can the Jets produce any semblance of offense against this defense? I don’t know, but I’m hopeful that it isn’t a laugher.
One of your big heroes from Week 5 was Alex Smith against Dave Wannstedt’s pathetic Buffalo defense. What’s Mario Williams going to say this time? Smith completed 18-of-24 attempts for 303 yards with three touchdowns. He added 49 rushing yards and was not sacked .
There’s the opening salvo. It’s time to review the red zone work of Week 5.
The 49ers absolutely obliterated the Buffalo defense in front of a frenzied home crowd. Frank Gore had his number called five times for 15 yards with a touchdown in the red zone. “Wildcat” quarterback Colin Kaepernick rushed twice for 31 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown sprint.
Ryan Mathews didn’t receive the start against New Orleans. You could hear his bitter fantasy owners groaning as kickoff approached. Mathews made the most of his single red zone carry in the Week 5 loss to the Saints, sprinting 13 yards for a touchdown. Through five weeks, Jackie Battle ranks ninth in red zone carries with 14.
The normally sieve-like Carolina run defense stiffened up in the red zone and gave the Panthers a chance at home with Cam Newton struggling. Marshawn Lynch was limited to six rushing yards on four red zone carries. Lynch finished the game with 85 yards on 21 carries, adding four receptions for 19 yards.
Jamaal Charles posted another huge workload, but Shaun Draughn got the call in the red zone. Draughn carried the ball three times in the red zone for eight yards against Haloti Ngata and the Baltimore front.
Here’s a look at your leaders in red zone carries with one game remaining in Week 5.
Red Zone Targets
Marques Colston led the red zone parade on Sunday, producing five receptions on six targets for 63 yards with all three of his touchdown receptions. He’s been targeted in the red zone 12 times this season to lead all receivers. I’ll be back with more on Colston shortly.
James Jones was a red zone beast once again for the Packers. Jones caught both of his red zone targets for 14 yards with two touchdowns. He caught 4-of-7 targets overall for 44 yards.
Rookie Dwayne Allen of the Colts was a force in the red zone against the Packers. Allen caught 2-of-3 red zone targets for 19 yards with a touchdown grab. He’s been targeted five times in the red zone overall this season, producing four receptions for 26 yards with two touchdowns.
Kyle Rudolph owners had to wait for the Minnesota tight end to find the end zone, but they eventually received an end zone romp against the Titans. Rudolph was targeted twice in the red zone, producing a 15-yard touchdown reception. He’s caught 5-of-6 red zone targets this season for 35 yards with four touchdowns.
Arizona star Larry Fitzgerald ranks second in the category through five weeks. He’s been targeted in the red zone 10 times, producing four receptions for 17 yards with a touchdown.
Kendall Wright of the Titans is a surprising entry in the top 10 in this category, having been targeted seven times in the red zone. Wright has caught five passes for 39 yards with two touchdowns. In fact, he’s been targeted in the red zone more frequently than – GULP – Rob Gronkowski (five).
Red Zone Passing
Since Marques Colston appeared in the receiving section, Drew Brees obviously leads the quarterback slot this week. He completed 5-of-7 red zone attempts for 63 yards with those three touchdown passes. Brees has completed 19-of-39 red zone attempts for 148 yards with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Andrew Luck completed 4-of-10 red zone attempts for 26 yards with two touchdowns (and a rushing touchdown) against the Packers.
Michael Vick (more on him later) completed 4-of-5 red zone attempts for 35 yards with two touchdowns. For all of his turnover issues, he’s been efficient in the red zone. Vick has completed 9-of-16 attempts with five touchdowns and one interception.
Matt Ryan completed all three of his red zone attempts for 16 yards with two touchdowns against the Redskins. He leads all quarterbacks with 11 red zone touchdown passes. Ryan has completed 19-of-28 red zone passes for 118 yards.
Random Stat Checks
Did you know that Drew Brees broke a longstanding record on Sunday night? Or that Sean Payton was in the building to watch it?
You did? Oh, I’m sorry. Let’s talk about the numbers that matter in fantasyland. Despite essentially losing Jimmy Graham to an ankle injury early against the Chargers, Brees put forth a ridiculous late statistical effort. He finished the game with 370 passing yards with four touchdowns. Brees now leads the NFL in both passing yards (1,720) and passing touchdowns (14).
Three of those touchdown passes in Sunday’s victory were thrown to top option Marques Colston, who corralled 9-of-18 targets for 131 yards. Following a slow start, Colston has been positively dominant in the past two weeks. Colston has amassed 18 receptions for 284 yards with four touchdowns. He’d caught 10 passes for 160 yards with zero touchdowns through the first three weeks.
Former New Orleans receiver Robert Meachem posted a fantastic game against his former team. Meachem caught three of his four targets for 67 yards with his first touchdown receptions as a member of the Chargers.
Wes Welker moved into some significant statistical territory during Sunday’s win over the Broncos. Welker recorded 13 receptions for 104 yards with a touchdown, his third consecutive 100-yard game. The radio broadcast from Dial Global Radio Network advised that it was the 14th time in Welker’s career that he produced at least 10 receptions and 100 receiving yards in a game. He needs one such game to tie “The GOAT,” Jerry Rice, for the all-time lead.
Chris Johnson. I don’t need to elaborate, do I? Following a one-week appearance in the good graces of fantasy owners, Johnson was positively erased by the Minnesota run defense. For most of Sunday’s game, fantasy owners saw a total of -1 in the scoring column. Johnson finished the contest with 24 rushing yards on 15 carries (one reception for five yards) with a lost fumble. He’s averaging 2.9 yards per carry through five weeks. The Titans also lost top backup Javon Ringer, perhaps for the season, to a knee injury. Second-year running back Jamie Harper slides into the backup role.
The Chiefs’ difficult start to the season continued in a mostly unwatchable game against the Ravens. Kickers ruled the day! Anyway, the Baltimore defense harassed Matt Cassel all day, limiting the embattled signal caller to 92 passing yards (9-of-15) with three turnovers (two interceptions and a lost fumble). He eventually left the game with a concussion, thereby thrusting Brady Quinn into the lineup. At present, Quinn is expected to start the Week 6 game against Tampa Bay. Cassel threw five touchdown passes and turned the ball over 13 times in the Chiefs’ first five games.
Maurice Jones-Drew was shut out of the end zone for the third time in four games by the angry, aggressive and high-scoring Chicago defense. Jones-Drew was limited to 56 rushing yards on 13 carries (a nice 4.7 YPC average), adding just one reception for three yards in the home thrashing. Jones-Drew has been limited to 60 rushing yards or fewer in three of his past four starts.
In this week’s “Lineup Calls” piece, I issued an advisory on the success that the Saints had had against tight ends through the first quarter of the season. Still, the overall struggles of the defense compelled you to start Antonio Gates. Gates drew a questionable pass interference call late in the game and finished the game with just three receptions for 19 yards on seven targets. He’s posted 13 receptions for 143 yards overall and has yet to score in 2012.
Owners of Julio Jones breathed a sigh of relief when they saw Jones sprint to the end zone in a glorious matchup against the Redskins. Jones was targeted 15 times, producing 10 receptions for 94 yards. He’s scored in three of the Falcons’ first five games while averaging 5.2 receptions and 62.6 receiving yards. His On-OFF pattern halts this week, as the Oakland secondary has zero chance to slow down this offense.
Cedric Benson was one of several Green Bay players carted off of the field in Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis. Benson sustained a foot injury and left the stadium in a boot. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel , X-rays were negative. Alex Green and James Starks would split carries against the stout Houston run defense in his absence.
I would be remiss if I failed to celebrate the huge game turned in by Reggie Wayne during Sunday’s win over the Packers. Wayne caught 13-of-20 targets for 212 receiving yards with a touchdown. He has been targeted 60 times through four weeks, producing 36 receptions for 506 yards.
The Chicago defense produced another ridiculous point total for fantasy owners against the Jaguars. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman scored touchdowns for the second straight weeks to fuel the Bears’ second-half point explosion. The Bears produced three turnovers and three sacks in the runaway victory. Alas, fantasy owners will need to find a replacement for this juggernaut in Week 6. Chicago takes its Bye week before returning to action in Week 7 against the Lions.
Rashard Mendenhall became the latest ROBO-back to rejoin his team, giving a nice spark to the Pittsburgh offense in a hard-fought win over the Eagles. Mendenhall ran for 81 yards on 14 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown run. He added two receptions for 20 yards. Look to your league’s waiver wire to see if you can catch your league napping.
The “Joe Flacco Express” paused in Week 5 against the Kansas City defense. Flacco was limited to 187 passing yards (13-for-27) with an interception and four sacks in the narrow victory. He added 14 rushing yards. He’s completed 50.7% of his pass attempts in two road starts with one touchdown and three turnovers. Torrey Smith was held in check as well, producing three receptions for 38 yards on four targets.
Demaryius Thomas caught nine passes for 188 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots. Alas, he lost another fumble following a 43-yard reception, his third consecutive game with a lost fumble. I’ll be positive here. Thomas logged his third 100-yard game of the year.
The Giants eventually posted a huge point total and dominated the Browns, but it didn’t come easy. Once the New York offense got on track, those promised fantasy numbers came quickly. Victor Cruz caught all three of Eli Manning’s touchdown passes and gave free “Salsa” instruction in the end zone. Ahmad Bradshaw was the story of this game, however, as the sixth-year tailback rumbled for 200 yards on 30 carries with a touchdown. He also added four receptions for 29 yards. Fantasy owners celebrated Bradshaw’s turnaround following an early lost fumble.
The injury-depleted Browns dressed only four wide receivers against the Giants. Still, Greg Little was targeted just twice, producing zero receptions. Speedster Josh Gordon made the most of his receptions, sprinting 82 yards with two touchdowns. Gordon was targeted eight times by Brandon Weeden in the loss.
Finally, I add another milestone that was achieved during the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh game. Michael Vick recorded his 150th career touchdown when he connected with LeSean McCoy on a short pass. He later added a red zone touchdown to Brent Celek (three receptions for nine yards). Vick finished the game with 175 passing yards and 16 rushing yards, a solid rebound from his early fumbling problems (he lost two).
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