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Fantasy red zone targets in Week 4
Did the games of Week 4 go down any easier for you this week with knowledge that the “real” officials had returned to the field? I expect to hear the cries from Green Bay over some spotty whistle-blowing, but were you happier overall?
While I didn’t ignore the inefficiency, confusion and outright gaffes of the now-departed replacements, I tried to keep my eyes and attention on the actual game play. In Week 4, that was awfully difficult at times, particularly if the 49ers-Jets tilt occupied one of the monitors. You wanted to, but you just couldn’t look away. I leave that contest with two questions. First, who was Santonio Holmes tossing the ball to? Second, do the cries for the arrival of Tim Tebow come louder from fantasy owners or disheartened Jets fans?
Let’s get inside the box scores and game tape to review some of the good, bad and ugly from red zone possessions this week. As always, I’ll post some statistical nuggets along the way to help you dominate your water cooler (message board) debates.
Arian Foster tied for the league lead in red zone carries in Week 4, producing 25 rushing yards on eight attempts with a touchdown in the blowout win over the Titans. He produced 86 yards on 24 carries overall with just one run over 10 yards.
Owners readying for a huge day from Ryan Mathews watched as Jackie Battle not only started the game, but also logged time as a red zone vulture against the Chiefs. Battle logged five red zone carries for 16 yards, including a touchdown run. Mathews is still the top option, particularly with New Orleans on tap for Week 5, but this is a maddening situation.
Robert Griffin III and the Redskins eked out a narrow win over the Buccaneers. Once again, RG III may plays with his legs, yielding 13 yards on three red zone rushes with a touchdown. He finished 43 rushing yards overall. Unfortunately, Griffin III also lost a fumble at the goal line.
LeSean McCoy carried the ball five times for 10 times in the red zone. He finished the game with 123 yards on 23 carries, including five runs of at least 10 yards as the Eagles narrowly defeated the Giants.
Stevan Ridley worked in a split backfield alongside rookie Brandon Bolden. Both dominated in the red zone, producing a combined 39 yards on nine carries with three touchdowns. Ridley generated 11 rushing yards on five red zone attempts with two touchdowns.
Red Zone Targets
Danny Amendola tied Larry Fitzgerald for the most red zone targets this week with four. He caught two passes for 13 yards, including the wide-open look off of a fake field goal for a touchdown. Fitzgerald caught two of his four targets for seven yards with a touchdown in the Cardinals’ overtime win over Miami.
Armon Binns didn’t yield any dividends, but he did record three red zone targets opposite A.J. Green in Cincinnati’s win over the Jaguars. Binns was targeted five times overall and finished the game without a reception.
Antonio Gates posted another tepid effort for fantasy owners in San Diego’s Week 4 romp over the Chiefs. He caught all three of his pass targets for 59 yards. Gates caught his lone red zone target for 13 yards.
Rob Gronkowski normally dominates the red zone, but the Bills did a fine job shutting him out in close quarters this week (zero catches on two targets). Unfortunately, they couldn’t contain him altogether, as Gronkowski finished with five receptions for 104 yards with a touchdown on 11 targets.
James Jones caught both of his red zone targets from Aaron Rodgers, including the interception of a would-be Jermichael Finley touchdown, for 26 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the game with five receptions on six targets for 56 yards. Jones is a prime Waiver pickup for Week 5 against Indianapolis with fellow receiver Greg Jennings (who also scored in Week 4) possibly sidelined because of a recurring groin injury.
Red Zone Passing
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took full advantage of his “get-right” game in Week 4 against the Saints. Rodgers dominated the Saints in the red zone, completing 7-of-10 attempts for 70 yards with four touchdowns.
Andy Dalton produced another gem for the Bengals in Week 4 against Jacksonville (see below for more). Dalton was efficient in the red zone, completing 4-of-9 pass attempts for 25 yards with two touchdown passes. He also rushed three times for -1 yard with a touchdown plunge. BenJarvus Green-Ellis fans were despondent. Dalton has a fantastic matchup on tap in Week 5 against the Miami secondary.
Eli Manning couldn’t lead the Giants to another fourth-quarter comeback on Sunday night against the division rival Eagles. However, he did take care of business in the red zone, completing 4-of-6 attempts for 27 yards with two touchdowns (Victor Cruz and the salsa dance and Bear Pascoe).
Philip Rivers wasn’t asked to do much in the Chargers’ burial of the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Rivers was efficient when called upon to throw, completing 18-of-23 attempts for 209 yards with two touchdowns (Jackie Battle and Eddie Royal).
Matt Hasselbeck posted an uneven performance after relieving the injured Jake Locker against the Texans. Hasselbeck completed 17-of-25 attempts for 193 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (three sacks). He did, however, dominate in the red zone, completing both pass attempts for 30 yards with two touchdowns.
Random Stat Checks
According to the FOXSports.com/fantasy data, Chris Johnson was started in fewer than 60% of leagues. His failure in the first three weeks of the season was well-chronicled and a date with the Texans led many owners to throw their hands in the air and opt for workload splits in other matchups. Johnson rumbled for 141 yards on 25 carries, adding two receptions for 16 yards in the blowout loss. His reward for such a fantastic outing is a date with the stifling Minnesota run defense in Week 5.
Jerome Simpson returned to action for the Vikings, and fantasy owners (self included) anticipated great things from the Minnesota passing attack and Christian Ponder against the Lions. Alas, two special teams touchdowns allowed the Vikings to sit on the ball and grind things out. Simpson did catch four of his five official targets for 50 yards, and he drew two big pass interference calls that netted the Vikings an additional 57 yards.
Ponder completed 16-of-26 attempts for 111 yards (4.3 YPA) and two sacks. After being burned in Week 4, will you look to him again in Week 5 against the woeful Tennessee pass defense? The Titans have allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks (10 touchdowns allowed against a single interception).
Brian Hartline came up in several times in Sit/Start questions for Week 4. He won out a couple of those calls in PPR leagues, but I could have never anticipated in my wildest dreams (easy now) that Hartline would log 12 receptions and 253 receiving yards, including an 80-yard touchdown sprint. He ranks third in targets overall entering Monday’s matchup between the Cowboys and Bears with 48 (32 receptions).
Larry Fitzgerald scored for the second straight week as the Cardinals moved to 4-0 with an overtime win over the Dolphins. He caught eight of his 15 targets for 64 yards.
The Falcons put up a sizable point total against the Panthers in a wild game with an even wilder finish. Roddy White was the story of the game, posting eight receptions for 169 yards with two touchdowns. Teammate Julio Jones didn’t fare as well, producing a single reception for 30 yards on eight targets. Since his monster Week 1 effort against the Chiefs, Jones has caught a total of 10 passes for 111 yards with a touchdown. Take a deep breath and relish his Week 5 matchup against the hapless Washington pass defense.
Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden both rushed for over 100 yards as the Patriots put forth a ridiculous second half against the Bills. Despite myriad injuries on the New England offensive line, Bolden rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries, including seven runs of at least 10 yards. He also scored a touchdown.
Let me circle back to the Falcons for a second. Michael Turner was in a “get-right” matchup against the Carolina run defense and produced a strong day for trusting fantasy owners. Turner rushed for 103 yards on 13 carries, including a 27-yard sprint. However, his big impact on Sunday came on the first receiving touchdown of his career . Turner took a shovel pass from Matt Ryan and sprinted 60 yards for a touchdown. He caught three passes for 68 yards overall. Following two miserable showings to start 2012, Turner averaged 6.8 yards per carry against the Chargers and Panthers.
Jamaal Charles lost two fumbles to put the Chiefs in a hole, but he rebounded nicely for fantasy owners. Charles rushed 17 times for 92 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown. He added three receptions for 23 yards with a 13-yard touchdown. The Chiefs host Haloti Ngata and the Ravens in Week 5.
The story of that game was the presence of Jackie Battle in the San Diego backfield. Battle started the game (remember Ryan Mathews fumbling in the red zone in Week 3) and logged two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving. Battle rushed 15 times for 39 yards, adding four receptions for 42 yards.
Peyton Manning took advantage of a fantastic matchup against the heretofore terrible Oakland secondary. Manning completed 30-of-38 pass attempts for 338 yards with three touchdowns. He’s now thrown eight touchdowns against three interceptions (all against the Falcons) while averaging 290.5 yards per game.
Following a miserable start to the game, Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay offense finally found success against the dreadful Washington pass defense in the second half. Freeman passed for 299 yards and had two receivers finish with 100 yards receiving. Vincent Jackson caught six passes for 100 yards and caught Freeman’s lone touchdown pass. Mike Williams added four receptions for 115 yards in the narrow defeat.
Fantasy owners received curious touchdowns from wide receivers in Week 4. Danny Amendola scored on a fake field goal in the Rams’ 19-13 win over Seattle. He finished with six receptions for 55 yards. Pierre Garcon recovered a Robert Griffin III fumble in the end zone.
Steven Jackson fought through his groin injury to carry the ball 18 times for 55 yards against the Seahawks. He added a single reception for 12 yards. I mention Jackson because he actually had a rushing touchdown nullified because of a holding call. Hekker then threw the touchdown pass to Amendola on the faked field goal.
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