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 3.
For the remainder of this article, the words Red Zone will be replaced by RZ.
Red Zone Rushing Attempts
During week 2, Ezekiel Elliott‘s 8 RZ carries led the NFL, while Nick Chubb followed closely with 7. Furthermore, a trio of running backs received 6 RZ carries each: Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, and Jonathan Taylor. As we get to players with 5 RZ rushing attempts last week, the list expands to include James Conner, Todd Gurley, Josh Jacobs, and Alvin Kamara.
One thing in common with all of those players is that they were all likely selected in the top three rounds of fantasy football drafts this year. Clearly, NFL teams with elite running backs are willing to use them in the RZ. Joshua Kelley is probably the first unexpected name among the league leaders in RZ carries. In both contests this season, Kelley received 4 RZ rushing attempts. During week 2, that equaled Kenyan Drake, Joe Mixon, and Miles Sanders’ RZ opportunities. Furthermore, half of Kelley’s RZ carries this season have come inside the 5-yard line. It appears as though the Chargers have tabbed him as the goal-line back. If he can maintain his role, Kelley should move up rest of season rankings.
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Carries inside the 5
Perhaps little surprise here, but the two players with the most RZ rushing attempts also had the most carries inside the 5-yard line. Ezekiel Elliott had 5 of such carries, while Nick Chubb had 4 attempts inside the 5. Chubb actually tied quarterback Cam Newton for rushing attempts within 5 yards of the end zone.
After that, there is a trio of players with 3 carries inside the 5. That list includes James Conner, Alvin Kamara, and quarterback Dak Prescott. Seeing both Newton and Prescott among the top 6 in goal-line carries shows that certain teams are willing to let the quarterbacks carry the football in the RZ. For Newton, in particular, it appears as though this will be the game plan. Through 2 weeks, Newton is tied for 5th in the entire league in RZ carries.
Red Zone Targets
During week 2, Drew Sample was the sole leader in RZ targets with 4. That was the same amount the paced the NFL last week, but in that case, there were several players who reached that mark. By receiving those 4 RZ targets, Sample is now tied with Joe Mixon for most RZ opportunities on the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020.
While Sample was alone in week 2 with 4 RZ targets, there is a group of players who saw 3 such pass attempts go their way. That list includes Tyler Eifert, Mike Gesicki, Tyler Higbee, Alvin Kamara, Jordan Reed, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The first observation is that the tight end position is well represented as only Kamara and Valders-Scantling do not play that position. For both those players, in particular, the absence of alpha receivers (Adams, Thomas) during portions of week 2, led them to receive more targets than expected.
I have already written about a couple of quarterbacks in this article. For the second week in a row, Cam Newton led all signal-callers in RZ carries, this time with 6. Another player that was already mentioned is Dak Prescott who was tied for second in quarterback RZ rushing attempts during week 2. He was equal with Kyler Murray as both players saw 3 RZ carries. The only difference between the two is that Prescott received all 3 of those attempts inside the 5-yard line, while Murray was further away from the end zone for his touches.
The other quarterbacks to get multiple RZ carries during week 2 were Joe Burrow and Mitch Trubisky. For those two, it a similar comparison to Prescott and Murray. Both of Burrow’s attempts were from inside the 5-yard line while Trubisky was outside of that range for his carries.
2020 Season So Far
With all the opportunities that Ezekiel Elliott received during week 2, he jumped all the way to the top of the league in RZ work so far this season. 12 RZ carries and 2 RZ targets give him a total of 14 RZ opportunities. Elliott also has 7 rushing attempts from inside the 5-yard line, which also leads the NFL.
After Elliott, the plays with the most RZ opportunities through 2 weeks are: Derrick Henry (13), Alvin Kamara (13), Aaron Jones (12), and Christian McCaffrey (12). There is also a pair of rookies with 11 RZ opportunities each. Those rookies are Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jonathan Taylor. Both backs hit the league by storm right off the bat and should be solid RZ contributors throughout this season.