Red zone production is a big factor in determining fantasy success. Every Wednesday throughout the season we’ll examine red zone statistics at each position and what it means going forward. We look back at Week 9 to see which players excelled in the red zone and which ones struggled.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles – We’ve discussed Wentz in the past but he remains the NFL’s top red zone quarterback with Aaron Rodgers sidelined. The Eagles run a diverse offense, so they don’t just rely on Wentz in the red zone. His 36 attempts rank seventh in the NFL. However, his 15 red zone touchdowns are tops in the league. The next closest quarterback is Dak Prescott with 12. Wentz is completing 67 percent of his red zone passes. He’s locked in as an every-week Top 5 fantasy quarterback.
Eli Manning, New York Giants – It’s funny because as talk swirls about Manning potentially getting benched, he’s actually been one of the top red zone quarterbacks this year. Eli hasn’t had many attempts (24) in the red zone but he’s completed 19 of those passes. Manning’s red zone completion percentage (73 percent) ranks first in the league among quarterbacks that have thrown more than two passes. He has nine touchdowns and no interceptions. Manning may be on the decline and the Giants don’t get into the red zone often but when they do, Eli has been money this season. He could improve on those numbers this week against the winless 49ers.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints – Brees is having a solid fantasy season but it’s not the elite year owners are used to seeing from him. The reason is the Saints have a running game and defense now, so they don’t need to rely on Brees as much. This has been evident in the red zone as well. Much like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, Brees has been a master of the short touchdown passes inside the 5-yard line throughout the years to pad his fantasy stats. However, this year the Saints are running the ball more with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Brees’ 36 red zone attempts are tied with Wentz for seventh in the NFL. That’s not terrible but while Wentz has 15 touchdown passes, Brees has eight. Brees’ red zone numbers could go up but for now, he ranks in the middle of the quarterback pack.
Brian Hoyer/C.J. Beathard, San Francisco 49ers – Not many people are starting a 49ers quarterback for fantasy purposes but their red zone numbers are interesting in case Jimmy Garoppolo takes over at some point. Hoyer and Beathard have combined for 41 red zone attempts. That would rank tied for third in the NFL. The problem is the two have combined for only four touchdowns and one interception. The 49ers have gotten into the red zone but because of poor quarterback play, they haven’t been able to convert drives into points. Garoppolo doesn’t have much to work with on offense, especially now that Pierre Garcon is out for the year, but he’s more talented than Hoyer or Beathard. If he can produce in the red zone, Garoppolo may offer some late-season fantasy value for quarterback-needy owners.
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams – It’s hard to believe that Gurley struggled so badly in the red zone last season. This year he ranks tied for second in red zone rushing attempts (30) and first in touchdowns (7). Gurley also ranks first in attempts (12) and touchdowns (5) from inside the 5-yard line. The Rams improved their offensive line this offseason and Sean McVay has done an incredible job turning around an offense that struggled to get a first down last year. Gurley’s red zone dominance has helped turn him from borderline second-round draft pick to fantasy football’s top back. Playing on the NFL’s top scoring offense, Gurley should continue to flourish in the red zone over the final month and a half of the season.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints – Kamara got three red zone carries on Sunday. He’s never going to be Emmitt Smith near the goal line but Kamara has nine red zone carries right now with two touchdowns. He’s seeing 27 percent of the Saints red zone carries. Mark Ingram has received 13 red zone carries and scored four touchdowns. He’s getting 39 percent of the team’s red zone carries. Kamara was supposed to be a third-down back but if he continues to get roughly 30 percent of the Saints red zone carries for the rest of the year, it will be a big boost to his fantasy value. Kamara has gone from a weekly Flex play to an RB2 in PPR leagues.
Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens backfield is a mess for fantasy owners. It changes from week to week but one constant is Allen getting goal-line carries. You have to wonder why. Allen has gotten 18 red zone carries. He’s scored one touchdown. It was back in Week 5 versus the Raiders. Terrance West and Danny Woodhead are both injured right now. Expect Allen’s red zone carries to decrease over the next month. Woodhead is an underrated goal-line runner and Alex Collins is starting to play more snaps. Currently, Allen is seeing 51 percent of the Ravens red zone rushing attempts. He’s not likely to keep that pace up with Woodhead expected to return soon.
DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans – Murray has been battling injuries all season and now he’s dealing with a gimpy knee. He was limited to just nine carries Sunday against the Ravens. Murray has 12 red zone carries with only one touchdown this year. He’s getting 36.4 percent of the Titans red zone carries. It’s hard for owners to trust Murray right now and it’s going to be even harder in the future. While Murray will still be part of a two-man committee with Derrick Henry moving forward, expect Henry to see more goal-line carries and be the better fantasy option.
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions – Jones has really come on over the last couple of weeks, especially in the red zone. He’s replaced Anquan Boldin as the Lions top receiving threat inside the 20-yard line. Jones has been targeted nine times but five of his targets have come in the last three games. He’s now seeing 21.4 percent of the Lions red zone targets. Without a dominant tight end or running game, expect Matthew Stafford to continue to look for Jones near the goal line.
Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins – Landry plays on one of the worst offenses in the NFL, so trips into the red zone aren’t all that common, but he’s made the most of his opportunities this year. Landry only has seven red zone targets in eight games. However, he’s scored four touchdowns. All of Landry’s scores have come from inside the 10-yard line and he’s seeing a team-high 29.3 percent of Miami’s red zone targets. Landry has always been a reception monster but his season-high for touchdowns is five. He already has four and they’ve all come in the red zone. It’s helped elevate Landry’s fantasy value, even though he plays on a struggling offense.
Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers – One of the oddest stats of the 2017 season is Goodwin having 10 red zone targets after Week 9. That ranks tied for fifth in the NFL with players like Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Travis Kelce. Goodwin has yet to score a red zone touchdown but he’s seeing 24.4 percent of the team’s targets. A speedster known as a deep threat, Goodwin isn’t the prototypical red zone target. The interesting thing is all of Goodwin’s numbers could go up. Pierre Garcon is out for the season and tight end George Kittle is week to week with an ankle injury. Right now, the 49ers have Goodwin and very little else. It’s not surprising the team is 0-9.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks – Baldwin scored 14 touchdowns in 2015. That’s starting to look like an outlier season. He’s never scored more than seven touchdowns in any other year. Through eight games in 2017, Baldwin has three touchdowns. He’s only been targeted in the red zone five times with one score. Baldwin is seeing just 11.4 percent of Seattle’s red zone targets. That’s an awful number for a team’s No. 1 receiver. In Baldwin’s big 2015 season he was a major factor in the red zone. It’s a little surprising a team that struggles to run the ball doesn’t throw it to its top receiver more in the red zone. Baldwin’s lack of red zone production really hurts is overall fantasy value when compared to some of the other top receivers.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs – Remember when Kelce didn’t score touchdowns? Actually, he’s never scored more than five in a season. He already has five in nine games this year. Kelce is tied for fifth in the NFL in red zone targets (10) and third in touchdowns (4). He’s seeing 26.3 percent of the Chiefs red zone targets. The big difference between Kelce and Rob Gronkowski has always been touchdowns. Now Kelce is right there with Gronk as the top fantasy tight end.
Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders – Cook is having a good season with the Raiders but he’s still isn’t a factor in the red zone. It’s plagued Cook throughout his career. Cook has only been targeted four times in the red zone and he’s yet to score a touchdown. Cook has 39 receptions on the year but only one touchdown. His lack of red zone production is a big reason why. Given Cook’s past, his red zone production isn’t likely to increase much over the final month and a half of the season.