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Week 6 red zone targets, touches
The games of Week 6 offered great excitement, fantastic finishes and heroic performances. OK, so some of those heroic performances were earned by players firmly entrenched in fantasy “Bench” slots.
Some fantasy owners felt pretty good about their chances for a Week 6 victory following the afternoon games. I saw and heard many comments about teams needing a record-breaking performance from Aaron Rodgers to earn a victory. I suspect that there’s going to be a lot of peacocking in offices and on message boards this week.
* Peacocking: Sending notes, posting images or verbally advising fellow fantasy owners, radio hosts and the Twitter-verse about the greatness of your fantasy lineup.
• Peyton Manning is on pace to throw for more than 4,700 yards this season, and his touchdown total would be higher if Demaryius Thomas would stop dropping the ball! He’s lost fumbles in three straight games.
• Meanwhile, fantasy owners are desperately seeking a big game from Antonio Gates, who has yet to find the end zone this season!
Sit back, enjoy the game and take a deep breath. The Week 7 schedule is mighty unkind to owners because of a heavy slate of Byes.
Let’s dig into the red zone data.
Shonn Greene had no words for reporters following the Jets’ Week 5 loss to Houston. Greene responded on the field with a monster day against the Indianapolis run defense in Week 6. He rushed for 161 yards on 32 carries, including three rushing touchdowns (his first touchdown plunges since Week 1). Greene dominated the red zone, producing 38 yards on nine carries, including his three entries into the painted grass.
Montario Hardesty saw game action in place of the injured Trent Richardson (flank) in the “Battle for Ohio” rematch. Hardesty logged four red zone carries, producing 13 yards and a touchdown. He’ll be a popular pickup this week as insurance for Richardson with a glorious matchup against the Colts (see above) on tap.
LeGarrette Blount isn’t expected to replace Doug Martin in the starting lineup for the Buccaneers, but he’s seeing more work each week. Blount scored for the second straight week and produced 58 yards on seven carries. He yielded 16 yards on three red zone carries against the Chiefs. Blount’s workload makes him worthy of a roster spot in deeper leagues.
The Seattle run defense lived up to the pregame hype, limiting Stevan Ridley to 34 yards on 16 carries. Ridley touched the ball three times in the red zone and produced just three yards.
Red Zone Targets
Dallas receiver Dez Bryant posted a huge game against the Ravens, but he’ll be remembered for the failed two-point conversion and post-game comments. Bryant caught 13-of-15 targets from Tony Romo, including 4-of-5 red zone targets for nine yards and two touchdowns. He logged 95 receiving yards overall.
James Jones has become one of the most dominant red zone producers in the game. He was at it again on Sunday night in the Green Bay win over Houston. Jones caught both of his red zone targets for 24 yards. Both catches resulted in Green Bay touchdowns. He’s caught all eight of his red zone targets this season for 83 yards with seven touchdowns. Jones finished the game with three receptions on seven targets for 33 yards.
Tampa Bay receiver Vincent Jackson didn’t post a huge game overall, but he made the most of his red zone opportunities. Jackson caught both red zone targets for 36 yards with two touchdowns, and finished the day with four receptions and 66 yards. The prized offseason acquisition has registered 20 receptions for 370 yards and four touchdowns this season in support of Josh Freeman. He has a strong matchup on tap at home this week against the New Orleans Saints.
The Giants rolled over the 49ers in a highly-anticipated afternoon matchup. Once again, Victor Cruz celebrated in the red zone, much to the chagrin of the San Francisco faithful. Cruz caught a six-yard touchdown pass in the romp. He’s scored five times in the past three weeks (six overall). Cruz finished the game with six receptions for 58 yards.
Aaron Hernandez made his return to the New England lineup and paid dividends immediately for fantasy owners. Hernandez caught six passes for 30 yards. More importantly, he hauled in one of Tom Brady’s touchdown passes. Hernandez was targeted three times in the red zone, finishing with two receptions and zero receiving yards.
Red Zone Passing
Christian Ponder and the Vikings lived in the red zone early in Sunday’s loss to Washington. Unfortunately, Ponder and the Vikings settled for three first-half field goals. He did well in the red zone late, however, producing nine completions in 15 attempts for 48 yards with two touchdowns. Ponder’s trusting fantasy owners took advantage of the great matchup against the woeful Washington secondary by posting 352 passing yards, two touchdowns and three turnovers (one fumble).
Tom Brady and the Patriots were defeated by another NFC West team. This time, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks stunned the Patriots late. Brady completed 6-of-11 red zone attempts for 24 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Wilson completed 2-of-3 red zone attempts for 12 yards with a touchdown. The rookie from Wisconsin completed 16-of-27 attempts overall for 293 yards with three touchdowns. He added 17 rushing yards, absorbed two sacks and lost a single fumble.
Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez didn’t have to do much in Sunday’s dominant win over the Colts. He did, however, dominate his red zone opportunities. Sanchez completed 4-of-5 red zone opportunities for 20 yards with two touchdowns (Jason Hill and Stephen Hill).
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers put on a clinic in Week 6 against the Texans. Rodgers did half of his touchdown damage in the red zone by completing 4-of-6 attempts for 36 yards with three touchdowns. That’s right. He finished with 338 passing yards and six touchdowns. Rodgers has completed 69% of his red zone attempts overall with 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Random Stat Checks
Robert Griffin III aptly demonstrated how a strong fantasy day transforms into a transcendent effort when he sprinted 76 yards for a touchdown late in Sunday’s win over the Vikings. Griffin III passed for 182 yards (17-of-22) with a touchdown and an interception. He rushed for 138 yards on 13 attempts with two touchdowns. Fantasy owners that trusted the health reports and inserted Griffin III in their lineups were rewarded with a ridiculous effort. He’s completed 70.2% of his pass attempts overall with five rushing touchdowns, 379 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns.
Curiously, the Texans went away from their run-first philosophy against Green Bay on Sunday night. Perhaps they recognized that Aaron Rodgers and company were ready to turn the game into a track meet. Regardless, Arian Foster still turned in a solid day for expectant fantasy owners. He rushed for just 27 yards, but plunged into the end zone twice. Foster has logged 33 red zone rushing attempts through six weeks.
Michael Vick appeared to be headed for another sub-par effort against the Lions. He added another two turnovers to his lofty total (13), but he passed for 311 yards with two touchdowns and erased the damage of his two fumbles (from a fantasy perspective) with 59 rushing yards. For all of his mistakes, Vick has produced multiple touchdowns in four games this season. Fantasy owners may applaud him. Philadelphia fans and pundits are doing much the opposite following the loss to Detroit.
Matthew Stafford was also the subject of tremendous consternation and Twitter ridicule early against the Eagles. Stafford finished the comeback victory with 311 passing yards, one passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown. It wasn’t a dominant effort, but tortured fantasy owners will take it.
His top target, Calvin Johnson, was held out of the end zone once again. Johnson caught six passes for 135 yards on 13 targets, his fourth game with at least 94 receiving yards this season. Johnson and the Lions face a difficult road test in Week 7 against the Bears.
Reggie Wayne was held in check by the New York Jets pass defense in Week 6 after posting ridiculous totals against the Packers. Wayne did get involved late and finished the game with 87 receiving yards on five receptions (10 targets). The veteran receiver has been targeted 70 times this season overall, tying him for first with Victor Cruz. He’s already posted 593 receiving yards on 41 receptions.
Let me circle back to Thursday’s game between Tennessee and Pittsburgh for a moment. Rookie Kendall Wright caught six of his eight targets for 71 yards in the upset home win. Wright currently ranks 17th among all receivers with 52 targets this season. He’s corralled 33 passes for 285 yards with two touchdowns.
I would be remiss if I failed to celebrate Jordy Nelson’s return to fantasy prominence on Sunday. Nelson had been quiet in the early part of the season and entered Sunday’s matchup with a single touchdown reception. He earned the “hat trick” on Sunday night, producing nine receptions and 121 yards in the resounding win over the Texans. He’s been targeted 48 times overall (32 receptions and 410 receiving yards).
Dwayne Bowe appeared to be a prime play for Week 6 once it was announced that cornerback Aquib Talib of the Buccaneers had been suspended. Alas, Bowe and Brady Quinn were never able to get on track, and the top receiver produced just 21 receiving yards on three receptions (nine targets).
The Falcons sweated out a close win over the Raiders, leaving Matt Ryan owners despondent and desperate for help elsewhere in their lineups. You blinked repeatedly. You shook your head. You could not believe the early scrolls that spoke of multiple interceptions against the Raiders. Ryan finished the game with 249 passing yards (24-of-37) with one touchdown and three interceptions. It was his first game without multiple touchdown passes this season.