The Red Zone is such a key area for fantasy football success. In this series, I will be detailing which players have been getting the most opportunities in the Red Zone, with special attention placed on goal-line carries. This is Red Zone Report Week 2.
For the remainder of this article, the words Red Zone will be replaced by RZ.
Red Zone Rushing Attempts
During week 1, the three players with the most RZ carries are all new to their respective teams. Peyton Barber, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Zack Moss all saw 10 RZ opportunities each. Barber and Edwards-Helaire had identical RZ opportunity stats with 10 rushing attempts and 0 RZ targets. Meanwhile, Moss had 8 RZ carries and 2 RZ targets. Clearly, Buffalo, Kansas City, and Washington have found their respective goal-line backs for 2020.
After that trio, it is mostly familiar faces leading the way in terms RZ rushing attempts. During week 1, Derrick Henry, Josh Jacobs, Christian McCaffrey, and Latavius Murray all received 6 carries from inside the 20-yard line. Next up, is a player fantasy managers are quite familiar with. The only difference for Todd Gurley is that he is now getting RZ rushing attempts for Atlanta, 5 to be exact in week 1.
Finally, the group of running backs with 4 RZ carries in week 1 is as follows. Malcolm Brown, Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon, Nyheim Hines, Joshua Kelley, and Adrian Peterson. Among those players, Peterson is the only one who did not see at least one of those attempts inside the 5-yard line. Detroit’s week 1 “goal-line back” actually ended up being rookie D’Andre Swift who received a rushing attempt from inside the 5-yard line. Why is that important?
Carries Inside the 5
I place extra emphasis on rushing attempts taken from inside the 5-yard line. The reason is because NFL yards per carry is usually around 5 yards or less. That means, in order to increase the odds of scoring a touchdown on any given play, it is best if a player receives that carry within 5 yards of the End Zone. Therefore, I look for players getting rushing attempts in that area in order to peg them as goal-line backs.
Looking at the week 1 results, two names certainly pop in that regard. I have already written about Peyton Barber and Clyde Edwards-Helaire leading the NFL in RZ rushing attempts with 10 apiece. Well, both players continue to be linked because that also had an identical number of carries from inside the 5-yard line. For both players 6 of their 10 RZ attempts came inside the 5.
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Apart from Barber and Edwards-Helaire, there were five players with at least 3 caries from inside the 5-yard line. I have already referenced Todd Gurley and Zack Moss whose elevated RZ workloads came in part to their goal-line duties. The other three are Dalvin Cook, Jordan Howard, and Aaron Jones.
While some teams have one designated goal-line back, there are a few teams that gave rushing attempts from inside the 5 to multiple players. Those teams are the Broncos (Melvin Gordon, Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay), the Colts (Nyheim Hines, Jonathan Taylor), the Packers (Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams), and the Saints (Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray).
Quarterbacks in the Red Zone
There were seven quarterbacks with at least 1 RZ carry during week 1. Cam Newton led the way with 4 RZ rushing attempts, Josh Allen had 2 while Tom Brady, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dwayne Haskins, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson each kept 1 apiece. Furthermore, Allen, Brady, Newton, and Watson each received an RZ carry from inside the 5-yard line, adding to their TD potential.
Red Zone Targets
We do not want to pass over the Red Zone Targets from Week 1. There were four players with 4 RZ targets during week 1. Mark Andrews, John Brown, Aaron Jones and Emmanuel Sanders are currently leading the NFL in RZ targets. Jones in particular is getting quite the RZ workload. His 7 total RZ opportunities (3 carries, 4 targets) are tied for 4th most from week 1.
Furthermore, here are the players who received 3 RZ targets during Week 1. Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham, Calvin Ridley, Trent Taylor, and Sammy Watkins. Technically, Ridley led this group in total RZ opportunities because he did receive a carry inside the 20-yard line.
Carries are key to RZ opportunities. As mentioned, 4 RZ targets paced Week 1. There were 14 running backs who saw more than 4 RZ opportunities. Yes, some of those running back received RZ targets, but for the most part RZ carries are what make a goal-line back.
For Red Zone Report Week 2, it was uniquely a look at the previous week’s NFL action. However, in future editions, I will be keeping track of players with the most RZ opportunities throughout the season.
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