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 10 to see which players excelled in the red zone and which ones struggled.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars – Bortles is far from a fantasy stud but he’s thrown for at least 241 yards and one touchdown in four straight games. That makes Bortles a viable option in two-quarterback leagues and a streaming play in deeper formats. One area Bortles has improved in is red zone production. Bortles has thrown for 11 touchdowns this season and nine have come in the red zone. He’s yet to throw an interception in the red zone. Bortles may not be Tom Brady but he’s been a solid fantasy quarterback over the last month.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans – The last time we mentioned Mariota he had yet to throw a touchdown pass in the red zone. The good news is he now has three red zone touchdowns. The bad news is that’s still terrible. To put in perspective how inefficient Mariota has been in the red zone this season, he has three red zone touchdown passes on 28 attempts. Sam Bradford has three touchdowns on eight attempts. Bradford also hasn’t played a full game since Week 1. If you’re wondering why Mariota isn’t living up to his eighth-round average draft position, look no further than his struggles in the red zone.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints – Remember a few weeks ago when we were wondering why Ingram wasn’t getting carries? Ingram scored three red zone touchdowns on Sunday. He now has seven on the season. That ties him with Toddy Gurley for tops in the NFL and Ingram has 13 fewer red zone carries. Ingram has done most of his damage from inside the 5-yard line. He ranks third in the NFL with 10 carries inside the five and first in touchdowns with six. Alvin Kamara is a factor in the red zone too but when the Saints get close to the goal line, they feed Ingram.
Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons – Devonta Freeman is out this week with a concussion. That means Coleman will take over as the Falcons lead back. Coleman should be treated as an RB1 even in a tough matchup against the Seahawks. Coleman scored a short touchdown last week versus the Cowboys after Freeman left the game. Freeman ranks tied for third in the NFL with five red zone touchdowns and Coleman has added two. The duo has combined for 27 red zone carries, which would be the fourth most in the league. Now with Coleman likely to get all the goal line carries this week, his chances of scoring increases greatly.
Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers – Gordon is currently receiving 82 percent of the Chargers red zone carries. That ranks second to only Le’Veon Bell for the highest percentage in the NFL. However, if Sunday’s game is any indicator, that number is about to decline. Austin Ekeler ran the ball 10 times for 42 yards against the Jaguars. Gordon only has three red zone touchdowns this year on 18 attempts. It will be interesting to see if Ekeler starts to eat into Gordon’s red zone workload over the final six games.
Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants – It’s hard to start Darkwa when he is a complete non-factor in the red zone. Darkwa has gotten six red zone carries this season. He’s yet to score a red zone touchdown. Even worse, Darkwa has received just one carry from inside the 5-yard line. Darkwa has given the Giants running game a little shot in the arm but his fantasy ceiling is limited because of his lack of scoring opportunities.
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers – Adams is the one Packers receiver that hasn’t fallen off the map without Aaron Rodgers. While Jordy Nelson hasn’t been targeted in the red zone since Rodgers got injured, Adams leads the NFL in red zone targets (16), receptions (11) and is tied for second in touchdowns (5). It’s hard to know which receiver a new quarterback will favor but in Brett Hundley’s case, it’s clearly Adams. It certainly isn’t Nelson.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans – Like Adams, Hopkins is the only Texans offensive player that hasn’t been completely hamstrung by a quarterback injury. Hopkins still has fantasy value even with the anemic Tom Savage at quarterback. He continues to see red zone targets. Hopkins ranks fourth in the NFL in red zone targets (13) and tied for second in touchdowns (5). He’s seeing 40.6 percent of the Texans red zone targets. That ranks just ahead of Adams for first in the NFL. Hopkins isn’t as good without Deshaun Watson but he’s still producing for owners.
A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals – Green has only seen seven red zone targets this season. He’s turned those seven targets into three touchdowns. Perhaps the Bengals coaching staff isn’t good at math but almost half the time Green has been targeted in the red zone this year, he’s scored. In other news, the Bengals offense is struggling to score points and Marvin Lewis is on the hot seat.
Brandin Cooks, New England Patriots – Cooks isn’t a big receiver but it’s surprising the Patriots haven’t found more ways to use him in the red zone. Cooks has four red zone targets and one touchdown this year. Those are the same red zone stats as Ravens wide receiver Chris Moore. Actually, Moore is seeing 9.3 percent of the Ravens red zone attempts, while Cooks is seeing only 7.5 percent of the Patriots attempts. In other words, Cooks is as much of a factor in the red zone as a virtual unknown receiver on the Ravens.
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons – Hooper scored his second red zone touchdown on Sunday. He’s now been targeted nine times in the red zone. That’s the same number of times as fellow tight ends Kyle Rudolph, Cameron Brate and Jason Witten. He also has the same number of targets and one more touchdown than teammate Julio Jones. Hooper has come on this season and he should continue to be a factor in the red zone for the Falcons for the rest of the year.
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers – It seems like only last year that Henry was a force in the red zone. Those days are long gone. Henry has scored just one red zone touchdown this season. That’s the same number as Antonio Gates. Gates is a great player but he’s at the end of his career. Henry was supposed to take the next step in his second year. It hasn’t happened. Henry’s disappearance as a red zone target in the Chargers offense is stunning.