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. This week we look at players at each position who are set up for success/failure in the red zone for fantasy playoffs.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams – Goff could play a big part for owners in the final two weeks of fantasy playoffs, especially with Carson Wentz out for the year. If Goff is your No. 1 option at quarterback, the good news is he’s been one of the most productive red zone passers in the NFL. Goff ranks tied for second in red zone attempts (70) and fourth in touchdowns (18). He has 11 touchdown passes inside the 10-yard line. The Rams offense has been explosive enough so both Goff and Todd Gurley have gotten plenty of opportunities in the red zone. Goff has two favorable road matchups coming up against a depleted Seahawks secondary and the Titans. He’ll be a strong QB1 over the next two weeks.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders – Carr was one of the top red zone quarterbacks last season. That hasn’t been the case in 2017. Carr has attempted just 37 attempts in the red zone with 10 touchdowns and one interception. His 37 attempts are two fewer than Carson Palmer and he hasn’t played in a month and a half. Carr’s 10 touchdown passes is one fewer than Aaron Rodgers who hasn’t played since Week 6. The good news is Carr has a strong matchup this week against the Cowboys. The bad news is Carr flopped in the same situation last week when he faced the Chiefs. Carr has thrown multiple touchdowns in a game just three times all year and once in his last six. He’ll be a risky fantasy play even in a good matchup.
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers – A while back we mentioned how Stewart was one of the least effective red zone backs. What a difference a month makes. Stewart scored three touchdowns last week against the Vikings. He has five touchdowns in his last three games. Stewart has picked it up significantly in the red zone as well. After not scoring a red zone touchdown in his first seven games, Stewart now has five touchdowns on 25 attempts, His five scores ranks tied for fifth in the NFL. Stewart has favorable matchups versus the Packers and Buccaneers in the next two weeks. Both defenses rank in the Top 10 at allowing fantasy points to running backs. With Stewart finding the end zone more and having two favorable matchups, he’s a starting option for the remainder of playoffs.
Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens – Collins has been a revelation for fantasy owners. He’s scored five red zone touchdowns in his last four games. Collins has done this on just 16 attempts. He showed last week in a tough matchup against the Steelers that he’s worthy of being in starting lineups for the rest of fantasy playoffs, regardless of opponent. He gets the Browns, Colts and Bengals to finish out the year. Collins will be a must-start in all those matchups.
Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins – Like Collins, Drake has been a big boost to fantasy owners at the most important time of year. However, as good as Drake has been lately, he still isn’t a factor in the red zone. Drake only has six red zone carries this year for 21 yards and one touchdown. Granted, he’s only been the unquestioned feature back for two games, but the Dolphins have opted to throw more down near the goal line than rely on Drake. Drake is still a must-start right now and his red zone production could increase over the next two games. He has the right matchup this week against a Bills defense allowing the most fantasy points to running backs.
Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins – One of the reasons why Drake hasn’t gotten many red zone opportunities is because Landry is hogging them. Landry’s eight red zone touchdowns are the most among receivers and one less than Jimmy Graham for the NFL lead. Landry caught two red zone scores last week and he has at least five receptions in every game this season. He’ll remain a strong WR2 for fantasy playoffs.
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers – There was a point earlier in the season when Nelson led the NFL in both red zone targets and touchdowns. Then Aaron Rodgers got hurt. Nelson has fallen off the map since. He has just 12 red zone targets and five scores. Nelson had nine red zone targets and five touchdowns when Rodgers went down. He’s been benched by many owners by now but with Rodgers potentially coming back this week, things are looking up for Nelson. No receiver relies more heavily on a quarterback for fantasy success than Nelson, especially in the red zone. He should be back in your starting lineups if Rodgers plays against the Panthers.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks – Baldwin continues to be a ghost in the red zone. He’s been targeted just six targets with one touchdown. Baldwin’s six targets are tied with former Broncos tight end A.J. Derby. That’s not a good thing considering Derby was released a few weeks ago. Baldwin is seeing only 8.5 percent of the Seahawks red zone targets. That’s lower than Demetrius Harris and Demarcus Robinson of the Chiefs. Again, that’s not a good thing. Baldwin is still worth starting over the next two weeks but his lack of red zone targets limits his fantasy upside.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings – Rudolph is always a threat in the red zone and this year is no different. The Vikings tight end has been targeted 15 times in the red zone with 13 receptions and six touchdowns. Rudolph is seeing 27 percent of the Vikings red zone targets. After a slow start to the year, Rudolph has now scored four touchdowns in his last three games. He’s a top tight end play once again versus the Bengals this week
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills – Clay got off to a fast start this year with two red zone touchdowns in his first three games. He’s been shutout since. Clay did miss three games with a knee injury. However, in the five games since he returned, Clay has only topped 30 yards receiving once and he’s yet to score. Clay does get a good matchup this week against a Dolphins defense allowing the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends, so perhaps he can get going during fantasy playoffs.