Red Zone Report Playoffs Part 2
As fantasy football managers continue to try and score big points, they often find the highest upside in players who score touchdowns. The best area of the field to get into the end zone is as close as possible to the goal-line. That is why Red Zone carries and targets are so important. The purpose of this Red Zone Report Playoffs, is to showcase which players have received the most opportunities in the Red Zone. Also, included in this playoff edition, is a look at which teams have run the most (and least) Red Zone plays. This is Red Zone Report Playoffs Part 2.
For the remainder of this article, the words “Red Zone” will be replaced with “RZ” for brevity.
Red Zone Rushing
During Week 14, Kenyan Drake lead the NFL with 8 RZ carries. There was a bit of separation between him and a pair of players. Both Cam Akers and Carlos Hyde received 5 RZ rushing attempts. For Akers, this was finally the game where he monopolized the Rams running back RZ touches. In fact, after 2 solid performances in a row, Akers is now tied for the team lead in total RZ opportunities on the season. For Hyde, this actually doubled his RZ chances on the season. As a result, he now sits sixth on the team in RZ opportunities. While Akers and Hyde had identical RZ rushes in one contest, their respective season outlooks are much different in that area.
Next on the list, we find seven running backs who each saw 4 RZ rushing attempts. They are Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Mike Davis, Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon, Josh Jacobs, and Miles Sanders. All of those names belong to backs that are capable of being workhorses. It should come as no surprise to see them get that many opportunities in the RZ. The only exception might be Gordon, but all of the others are must-plays every week.
Outside of passing, Cam Newton also saw 4 RZ touches, but we will touch on that later.
Carries Inside the 5
During the first week of the fantasy football playoffs, there was not much change for the season-long numbers involving rushing attempts from inside the 5-yard line. Ezekiel Elliott added another in Week 14 to hold a narrow lead at 22. Right behind him are both Dalvin Cook and Cam Newton, who each saw 2 carries inside the 5. This brought both of their season totals to 21. Only a few behind them with 18 is Kenyan Drake who also received 2 rushing attempts from inside the 5-yard line during Week 14. The same amount as both Melvin Gordon and Jeff Wilson. For Wilson this was significant because it now places him first among all 49ers players in that category. And with the injuries on the team, Wilson may be line to see another healthy game full of RZ runs.
Red Zone Targets
No single player stood out as a RZ target in Week 14. No surprise to see Keenan Allen and Allen Robinson tied for the league-league in RZ targets in any given game. And given the injuries on their respective teams, seeing Robby Anderson and T.J. Hockenson accomplish it was an expected outcome. With 3 RZ targets, that is exactly what they all did.
But the surprise may be the other players with 3 RZ targets so far in the fantasy playoffs. First, there is A.J. Green who has taken a backseat as a RZ threat in 2020. Entering Week 14, he had only received 5 RZ targets all season. That placed him 8th on the Bengals. Was that just a one game anomaly, or will we see a mini Green resurgence?
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Then there are teammates Keelan Cole and Laviska Shenault with 3 RZ targets apiece. While the Jaguars are among the most pass-heavy teams in the RZ (more on that later), it is somewhat unexpected to see either of those two leading the team. Normally that has been D.J. Chark, who did see 2 RZ targets in Week 14.
Speaking of players with 2 RZ targets, I wanted to highlight Nyheim Hines. Along with his 3 RZ carries, Hines had 5 total opportunities. That put him behind only Kenyan Drake for Week 14. Currently, Hines is second on the Colts in RZ targets (10) and total RZ opportunities (33).
As a RZ rushing weapon, no quarterback comes close to Cam Newton. He has 38 RZ carries on the season, almost double that of the next closest field general. That player is Lamar Jackson who added 2 RZ rushing attempts in Week 14 for a 2020 total of 20. More importantly, Jackson saw his first carry inside the 5-yard line of the entire season. If he begins to run the football more consistently that close to the goal-line, it help his TD upside.
2020 Season So Far
Entering Week 15, we have a tie for most RZ opportunities on the season. Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry both have 52 RZ touches on the season. Among the 104 combined chances, there is only 1 RZ target. For both Cook and Henry, this production has purely come on the ground. Even the player in third place only has 2 targets among his 51 RZ opportunities on the season. That player is Kenyan Drake for reference sake. While Cook and Henry each had consistent stretches of RZ work, Drake has seen his role increase in recent weeks. With three regular season games to go, it’s anybody’s race for 2020 RZ opportunity champ.
Davante Adams leads the league with 21 RZ targets so far in 2020. Right behind him is Darren Waller with 20 RZ targets. Once again, this will be a tight battle for the remainder of the season. And not just between those two. Mike Evans and Tyreek Hill have seen 19 RZ targets apiece
Team Red Zone Plays
Which teams have run the most plays in the RZ this season? Well, just like in last week’s Red Zone Report, we find the same three teams at the top of the list. The New Orleans Saints have had 149 RZ opportunities in so far in 2020. They are by far the gold standard among offenses at getting into the RZ. The next two teams kept their same order. The Atlanta Falcons have run 135 RZ plays, while the Indianapolis Colts have had 132.
There was also much consistency at the bottom of the list as well. The five teams with the fewest RZ opportunities this season, all remained in the same order as last week. Those teams are the New York Giants (83 RZ plays), the Houston Texans (80), the Philadelphia Eagles (80), the New York Jets (74), and the Denver Broncos (72).
The only massive leap that any team made from last week is the Arizona Cardinals. With 122 RZ plays runs this season, they are currently in 4th place. But they are merely at the top of the massive middle ground. 23 NFL teams have between 106 and 122 RZ opportunities so far this season.
While the Texans and Broncos both fall to the bottom of the league in RZ opportunities, they are the two most pass-happy teams in the RZ. Both are above 65% pass plays in the RZ. In total, there are eight teams that attack through the air 60% of the time or more in the RZ. In order, those teams are the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Chicago Bears, the Seattle Seahawks, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On the run-heavy side of the spectrum, we find the New England Patriots at 73%. They are the only team to have over 70% imbalance in either direction. The next two teams on the run-heavy side are the Minnesota Vikings at 69% and the Cleveland Browns at 65%.
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