Fantasy Football

Week 12 red zone targets

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Michael Harmon

Mike is a fantasy contributor for>>

It’s the final countdown.

Following Monday’s matchup between the Panthers and Eagles, many leagues will be entering the final throes of the fantasy regular season. That’s right. We’re already staring down the road into the fantasy playoffs.

The waiver wire promises to be especially active at running back, where old fantasy favorites have reemerged as leading men. I applaud you for any preemptive claims made on Chris “Beanie” Wells and Knowshon Moreno and those of you who stashed Michael Bush on your bench.

Keep it locked on for waiver wire suggestions as the practice week develops and injury notes flow. For now, I’m digging into the play-by-play accounts from Week 12 to spotlight the red zone heroes and compelling performances.

Red Zone Carries

Welcome back to action, Beanie Wells. Owners were clearly skeptical about starting Wells as he returned to the field against the Cardinals. He produced 13 yards on three red zone carries, including two trips to the end zone. Wells finished the game with 48 rushing yards on 17 carries. Get three to the waiver wire for Week 13 against the Jets.

The Falcons did a fantastic job to slow Doug Martin down on Sunday, limiting the rookie powerhouse to 50 rushing yards on 21 carries. They failed to stop Martin from point-blank range, however, as he scored two red zone touchdowns (eight red zone carries for 27 yards). He added two receptions for 13 yards. He ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,050 rushing yards through 12 weeks of play.

The Browns’ win over the Steelers was hardly pretty. However, fantasy owners celebrated a red zone touchdown by running back Trent Richardson. He logged 20 rushing yards on four red zone carries, including a 15-yard touchdown run. Would you believe that Richardson is only tied for 25th place in the NFL with 12 runs of at least 10 yards?

Both Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown scored red zone touchdowns in the Sunday night laugher against the Packers. Bradshaw earned 15 rushing yards on his two red zone touches, and will be handling those duties himself going forward. Brown broke his leg late in the contest, thereby putting rookie David Wilson in position for a bigger workload. Bradshaw produced 119 total yards on 12 touches, including a 59-yard reception early in the game.

Jacquizz Rodgers demonstrated tremendous speed and burst on the edge during Sunday’s win over the Buccaneers. Rodgers logged three red zone touches, including a five-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. He finished the day with 79 total yards on 12 touches, including a 20-yard run and a 32-yard reception. Rodgers is on the board as a sneaky RB3/Flex option in Week 13 against the Saints.

Cincinnati running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis burst through the Raiders for a 48-yard gain to bring the ball inside the one-yard line. The Bengals rewarded Green-Ellis and allowed him to plunge into the end zone to close that possession. He finished the game with zero red zone yards on four carries. Green-Ellis produced 129 rushing yards on 19 carries overall. He even posted a nine-yard reception. He’s been a red zone beast of late, producing three touchdowns in his past four weeks.

Michael Bush will rank among the most coveted players on the waiver wire this week following Matt Forte’s exit because of an ankle injury against the Vikings. Bush logged three red zone carries in the Chicago victory, producing five yards with two touchdowns. He finished the game with 60 rushing yards on 21 carries.

Red Zone Targets

I suppose that the Giants’ Bye week came at the right time. The Giants embarrassed the Packers on Sunday by a final score of 38-10. Hakeem Nicks led the Giants with six red zone targets, converting one of them for a 13-yard touchdown to cap the scoring. He caught 5-of-13 targets overall for 77 yards. It was Nicks’ first touchdown reception since Week 2.

Kyle Rudolph was the lone bright spot in a Minnesota passing attack that played once again without Percy Harvin. Rudolph caught 2-of-3 red zone targets for 15 yards, including a two-yard touchdown reception, and finished the game with 55 receiving yards (five receptions on nine targets). He’s amassed seven touchdown receptions this season, a total that ranks third among tight ends.

My “Ninja” pick on this week’s “Fantasy Freaks” show on FOX Sports Radio was Mohamed Sanu of the Bengals. He delivered two red zone touchdowns in the first half of Cincinnati’s dominant home win over the Raiders. Sanu caught both of his red zone targets for seven yards. He finished the game with five receptions and 29 receiving yards. The rookie from Rutgers has scored in three consecutive games for the surging Bengals, winners of three straight games.

Deep threat Kenny Britt amassed only 25 receiving yards on his three receptions (five targets) against the Jaguars, but one of those receptions was a six-yard touchdown grab. It was his lone red zone target of the game. Britt’s touchdown was his first reception since Week 5. He’s on the board for a deep WR3 option this week against the ailing Houston back-seven.

Marques Colston added to his league-leading red zone count in Sunday’s loss against the 49ers. He caught his lone red zone target for a 10-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Colston has scored in three of the Saints’ past four games, but hasn’t eclipsed 75 receiving yards since Week 5. He caught four passes for 36 yards against the 49ers.

Red Zone Passing Attempts

Eli Manning and the Giants rolled over the Packers in Week 12. It was a tremendous bounce-back effort for Manning, who had struggled mightily in the three games prior to the Giants’ Week 11 Bye. He completed 3-of-10 red zone attempts for 30 yards, including three touchdowns (Nicks, Cruz and Randle). Manning completed 16-of-30 attempts for 249 yards and was sacked once.

Andy Dalton and the Bengals dominated the hapless Oakland pass defense in a home blowout. Dalton completed 3-of-6 red zone attempts for 14 yards, including three touchdowns (twice to Sanu and once to Gresham). He passed for 210 yards (16-for-30) with two sacks. Dalton has thrown nine touchdowns with zero interceptions in the Bengals’ past three games.

Tony Romo led all quarterbacks with 13 red zone pass attempts in Week 12. He completed six passes for 32 yards, including two touchdowns. The Cowboys were boat-raced in the first half of the Thanksgiving Day game, but Romo rallied the Cowboys late to make it a game. Romo finished Thursday’s divisional loss with 440 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Joe Flacco bucked the trend of terrible road performances by leading the Ravens’ comeback win over the Chargers. Flacco completed his lone red zone attempt for a four-yard touchdown to Dennis Pitta. He finished the game with 355 passing yards (30-for-51) with one touchdown. Flacco’s still produced just a single multi-touchdown game since Week 4.

Drew Brees and the Saints were stopped at home by the 49ers, including two uncharacteristic interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Brees did, however, take care of business in the red zone with five completions in six attempts for 26 yards and three touchdowns. Brees has produced multiple touchdowns in every game this season.

I vowed that I would find a way to write something positive about the Jets following Thursday’s pathetic effort against the Patriots. Mark Sanchez completed 3-of-7 attempts for 23 yards, including a touchdown pass to Dustin Keller. Sanchez completed 26-of-36 for 301 yards with one touchdown, one interception and one lost fumble.

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks fell to the Dolphins in Week 12, but the rookie quarterback from Wisconsin produced strong numbers in the red zone. Wilson completed both of his red zone attempts for seven yards with two touchdowns. He’s thrown nine touchdown passes against one interception in his past four starts. Wilson faces the opportunistic Chicago defense in Week 13.


Football on Thanksgiving is an American tradition and we have the best images those games and all of Week 12.

Random Stat Checks

The Steelers turned the ball over eight times in the road loss to Cleveland. I don’t even know where to begin dissecting that nonsense. Listen to Mike Tomlin’s post-game press conference for everything you need on that topic. Unfortunately, backup Charlie Batch was unable to get the ball into the hands of speedster Mike Wallace. Wallace caught just one of his seven targets for nine yards. He’s logged eight receptions for 47 yards in the past three weeks.

Chad Henne appeared on the fantasy radar as a “sleeper” for Week 12 against the Titans. He delivered a strong performance with 261 passing yards and two touchdown passes against one interception. Henne’s completed six touchdown passes with one interception since taking over for Blaine Gabbert and has taken Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon to a new level. Look to Henne for a spot start this week against the Bills.

Cecil Shorts III scored for the third game. He caught six passes for 105 yards in the Jacksonville win. He’s caught 13 passes for 291 yards in the past three weeks. Take a look on the waiver wire. Fantasy owners have been reticent to acquire the speedy option from Mount Union.

If you played wide receiver and owned the surname “Johnson” in Week 12, then you likely received a great deal of attention from your quarterback.

- Calvin Johnson led all receivers with 17 targets (eight receptions for 140 yards with a touchdown).

- Andre Johnson was targeted 15 times, producing nine receptions for 188 yards in the narrow victory over the Lions. It was his third game with at least 118 receiving yards in his past four starts. Johnson had earned just a single 100-yard game in the Texans’ first seven games.

- Stevie Johnson caught six of his 15 targets for 106 yards in the Bills’ loss to the Colts. It was his third consecutive game with six receptions.

Fred Jackson returned to action for the Bills, but was planted firmly in the second role behind C.J. Spiller. Jackson earned seven touches in the loss to Indianapolis. He carried the ball six times for 16 yards, adding one reception for eight yards. By way of contrast, Spiller logged 103 total yards on 15 touches (107 rushing yards).

Cole Beasley stepped into a heavy workload against the Redskins on Thanksgiving Day once Miles Austin was sidelined. Beasley caught 7-of-13 targets for 68 yards in the home loss. He’s worth a look-see on the waiver wire this week with Austin ailing and Kevin Ogletree working back from a concussion.

The hot topic of the week was Jim Harbaugh’s decision to promote Colin Kaepernick to the starting role against New Orleans despite Alex Smith’s availability. Kaepernick completed 16-of-25 attempts for 231 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also used his legs, producing 27 yards on six rushing attempts, including a seven-yard touchdown.

The Chiefs hung around against the Broncos, but fell at home once again. Jamaal Charles rushed for 107 yards on 23 attempts, his second 100-yard game in the past three weeks. He’s finishing strong following a weak start to the campaign, having produced at least 100 total yards in three straight games.

Conversely, Knowshon Moreno emerged from the pack to take the lead role for the Broncos against Kansas City. Moreno amassed 85 rushing yards on 20 carries while adding 26 receiving yards on four receptions. He’ll be among the most-targeted waiver wire pickups this week after charging past Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball for touches.

Ryan Lindley struggled markedly against the Rams (two interceptions returned for touchdowns), but he found a new top target in tight end Rob Housler. Housler caught 6-of-11 targets for 82 yards in the loss to St. Louis. The second-year tight end from Florida Atlantic has recorded at least four receptions in four of the Cardinals’ past five games. Owners looking for targets at tight end might turn in his direction against the Jets for Week 13.

The Vikings struggled against the Bears in Sunday’s road loss. Adrian Peterson topped 100 rushing yards again, but Christian Ponder and the passing game failed to build substantially on his efforts. Ponder did look to Jarius Wright frequently for the second straight week in Percy Harvin’s absence. Wright was targeted 10 times, producing seven receptions for 49 yards.

Fantasy owners were reticent to trust Julio Jones in Week 13 following his early exit against the Cardinals. Jones returned to the good graces of fantasy owners by sprinting 80 yards for a touchdown, his sixth of the season, early in the Falcons’ one-point victory. Jones finished the game with six receptions for 147 yards, his fifth game with at least 94 receiving yards this season.

The Chargers lost a 16-13 overtime thriller to the Ravens. Philip Rivers passed for 228 yards (23-of-36) with a single touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd (four receptions for 65 yards). Danario Alexander continued to provide a strong presence in the San Diego passing game, producing five receptions for 74 yards to lead the Chargers. Alexander’s still available in nearly two-thirds of fantasy leagues.

Finally, Frank Gore continued his strong 2012 campaign against the Saints. Gore rushed for 83 yards on 19 attempts and was on the receiving end of Colin Kaepernick’s passing touchdown (three receptions for 18 yards). I close out the piece with Gore to advise you that he leads all players with 36 runs of at least 10 yards. It’s my way of saluting the longtime San Francisco tailback and the fantastic offensive line.

Tagged: Falcons, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Packers, Titans, Vikings, Saints, Giants, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Jaguars, Ravens, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Drew Brees, Andre Johnson, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Frank Gore, Alex Smith, Fred Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Bush, Calvin Johnson, Joe Flacco, Chad Henne, Stevie Johnson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Mike Wallace, Mark Sanchez, Knowshon Moreno, Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks, Beanie Wells, Andre Brown, Lance Ball, Julio Jones, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Jacquizz Rodgers, Cecil Shorts III, David Wilson, Russell Wilson, Mohamed Sanu

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