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Week 7 fantasy red zone targets
Did you survive “Fantasy Armageddon, Part I?” I know. The appearance of the Roman numeral is problematic. The list of Week 7 Bye teams blew countless holes in fantasy lineups and made for an interesting slate of games. Fans and fantasy owners received a flurry of activity early with a high number of contests. The “late window” featured just two games. Granted, both games went into overtime. But, were you really excited about the Oakland-Jacksonville game?
Let’s dig deeper inside the box scores with a focus on the red zone opportunists of Week 7 and some of the great highs (and lows) of this shortened slate. I’ll be back with a review of the Bears-Lions game on Tuesday.
Tim Tebow received a carry in the red zone and set the table beautifully for a Shonn Greene touchdown run, his fourth in two games. Greene logged 54 rushing yards on 16 carries and contributed six receptions for 34 yards. He added four additional red zone carries in this contest for 13 yards. Greene has registered the second-most red zone touches this season with 28 (five touchdowns).
* Tebow posted two red zone rushing attempts for five yards.
In what was supposed to start a glorious run of advantageous matchups, Darren McFadden was turned away by the Jacksonville defense. McFadden was limited to 53 rushing yards on 19 carries, right in line with his season average to date. He added four receptions for 28 yards. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, the Oakland offensive line could not deliver for McFadden. He was limited to seven rushing yards on four carries in the red zone.
Chris Johnson had delivered quality efforts for fantasy owners in two of his past three starts. He rumbled to a breakthrough performance in a fantastic matchup against the Bills. Johnson scored twice against the Bills, producing 195 yards on 18 carries, including an 83-yard sprint to daylight. He ran for 35 yards on five red zone carries, including a 16-yard touchdown.
New York tailback Ahmad Bradshaw was limited during the practice week, but got the start against the Redskins. Andre Brown scored a red zone touchdown, leaving Bradshaw owners despondent. Bradshaw later got his chance and found the end zone. He posted six red zone carries for 21 yards (43 yards overall, adding four receptions for 22 yards).
The Texans dominated the Ravens (is that too nice a word?) on Sunday, and red zone monster Arian Foster ruled the day for fantasy owners. Foster, the league’s leading red zone rusher (39 carries), added six red zone touches to his lofty total on Sunday for 31 yards with two touchdown plunges. Foster rushed for 98 yards on 19 carries overall with one reception for five yards.
Andrew Luck completed 16-of-29 passes for 186 yards, but registered zero touchdowns through the air (three sacks). He did, however, dominate the red zone as a runner. Luck scored two short rushing touchdowns (three carries) and lost a fumble.
Red Zone Targets
Vincent Jackson led all receivers with 216 receiving yards on seven receptions. Jackson raced 95 yards on one of his receptions, a pass play that led to three straight one-yard failures from LeGarrette Blount. Jackson has scored in three consecutive weeks (four touchdowns during this streak, including two 100-yards efforts). He led all receivers this week with five red zone targets (two receptions for 25 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown).
Following back-to-back tepid efforts and facing questions about his hip, Rob Gronkowski showed up in a big way for fantasy owners against the Jets. Gronkowski caught both of his red zone targets for 19 yards with two touchdowns and finished the overtime win with six receptions for 78 yards.
Red zone monster Heath Miller was at it again in Sunday night’s contest against the Bengals. Miller caught 2-of-3 red zone targets for 12 yards with a touchdown. He’s tied for the second-most red zone targets this season (13) with Victor Cruz. Miller caught eight of those passes for 42 yards with five touchdowns.
Fantasy owners received an eight-yard touchdown reception from A.J. Green in Sunday night’s loss to the Steelers. It was his only reception on eight targets, but it did extend his scoring streak to six games. The Bengals take a seat in Week 8.
Red Zone Passing
The Patriots earned a hard-fought divisional win over the Jets in overtime, but the extra time didn’t help owners of Wes Welker and Deion Branch. Welker caught six of his eight targets for 66 yards (yeah, I get the numbers there) and Deion Branch was limited to a single reception for nine yards on eight targets. Tom Brady passed for 259 yards for two touchdowns against the Jets. It was Brady’s 39th straight game with a touchdown pass.
Josh Freeman was the red zone hero of the day. He completed 5-of-11 attempts for 56 yards with three touchdowns. Freeman connected with Vincent Jackson, Dallas Clark and Tiquan Underwood for touchdowns in the home loss. He completed 24-of-42 attempts overall for 420 yards. This marked Freeman’s second straight three-touchdown effort and second without a turnover. He’ll face the Vikings next week. Freeman nearly registered a fourth touchdown pass as time expired, but Mike Williams had been forced out of bounds.
As always, Aaron Rodgers dominated the red zone in the Packers’ win over the Rams. Rodgers completed 5-of-6 attempts for 22 yards with two touchdowns. He’s completed 23-of-32 red zone attempts overall for 170 yards with 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Drew Brees threw an early interception against the Buccaneers before raining big play after big play against the secondary. Brees completed 27-of-37 attempts for 377 yards with four touchdowns (Colston, Sproles, Morgan and tight end David Thomas, who filled in admirably for the injured Jimmy Graham). Brees has already passed for 2,097 yards with 18 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He completed 4-of-5 red zone attempts for 38 yards and two touchdowns.
Ryan Fitzpatrick completed each of his three red zone passing attempts for 23 yards with two touchdowns (Fred Jackson and Donald Jones). Fitzpatrick completed 27-of-35 attempts for 225 yards overall with three touchdowns and two turnovers (one interception). Stevie Johnson caught the other Fitzpatrick touchdown strike. Johnson finished with five receptions for 71 yards.
Random Stat Checks
One of the members of our “All-Name Team” and Bye week plug-in, Jacksonville wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, delivered another big play for Blaine Gabbert. Shorts III caught a 42-yard touchdown pass, his third of the season, from Gabbert in the first quarter of the Jaguars’ upset bid.
Carson Palmer led the comeback for the Raiders. First, he connected with WR2 play Denarius Moore for an eight-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter (Moore finished with four receptions for 36 yards). Palmer then scored a rare rushing touchdown to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.
Popular Bye week fill-in Brandon Weeden of the Browns delivered another strong effort against the Indianapolis defense. He connected once again with big-play hero Josh Gordon (two receptions for 59 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown) and with the embattled Greg Little (six receptions for 52 yards) for touchdowns in the narrow loss. It was Weeden’s third consecutive multi-touchdown performance.
Trent Richardson entered Sunday’s game donning a flak jacket. Alas, he was limited to eight rushing yards on eight carries, adding two receptions for 11 yards. Richardson was clearly impacted by the injury and ceded carries to Montario Hardesty. The Browns face the Chargers in Week 8.
Dallas Clark posted his best game of the season for the Buccaneers in Sunday’s loss to the Saints. Clark caught five passes (six targets) for 51 yards. Put him on the “Watch” list to see how he’s deployed going forward. Was this just a function of the matchup against New Orleans?
Felix Jones received a start against the Panthers for the Cowboys. Jones was shaken up on several occasions and posted a middling effort in a strong spot. He registered 44 rushing yards on 15 carries, adding five receptions for 30 yards.
Mike Wallace of the Steelers led all receivers with 15 targets on Sunday against the Bengals. Alas, he was beset by drops and finished the game with 52 yards on eight receptions. Wallace has been targeted 49 times overall, producing 29 receptions for 397 yards. Eighty-two yards of that total came on a single reception.
Christian Ponder struggled markedly in a difficult spot against the Cardinals. Ponder earned the win and did throw a single touchdown pass (Percy Harvin), but he completed just 8-of-17 attempts for 58 yards with two interceptions.
I put a cautionary note on James Jones in this week’s “Lineup Calls” piece. Jones still delivered six receptions for 53 yards, but he and Aaron Rodgers failed to continue their red zone magic against the Rams. He caught 1-of-2 red zone passes for two yards.
The hero of the day for Green Bay was “Ninja” option Randall Cobb, who delivered his fourth straight huge effort for fantasy owners. Cobb caught all eight of his targets for 89 yards with two touchdown receptions. He’s caught 26 passes for 339 yards (three touchdowns) in the past four weeks).
Andy Dalton struggled terribly in Sunday night’s game against the Steelers. He completed just 14-of-28 attempts for 105 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Dalton has completed 64.2% of his pass attempts overall with 13 touchdowns against 10 turnovers.
Sunday’s matchup between the Giants and Redskins proved to be one of the day’s most entertaining. RGIII provided his usual heroics, only this time Santana Moss was the big-play receiver. Moss caught 3-of-4 targets for 67 yards with two touchdowns. Alas, he lost a fumble late in the upset bid.
Finally, I give a nod to how a middling (poor) effort can change in a moment. Victor Cruz’s 77-yard touchdown to cap a drama-filled NFC East battle put him among the fantasy elite once again. He finished with 131 yards, producing seven receptions on 11 targets. Cruz has scored six touchdowns in the past four weeks (seven overall).
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