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 11 to see which players excelled in the red zone and which ones struggled.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks – Wilson remains one of the top red zone quarterbacks thanks to the Seahawks lack of a running game. Seattle is the only team in the NFL that doesn’t have a running back with at least 250 yards rushing. Wilson has been the beneficiary, especially in the red zone, where he ranks second in attempts (61) and third in touchdowns (15). He’s been particularly effective inside the 10-yard line. His 13 touchdowns inside the 10 is tops in the league. The Seahawks rushing attack has shown no signs of improving, so Wilson should continue rewarding owners with red zone production throughout fantasy playoffs.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – Flacco is being used primarily in two-quarterback leagues at this point but his lack of red zone production is stunning. He ranks seventh in the NFL with 47 red zone attempts but has only six touchdowns. Every other quarterback with at least 43 attempts has 10 or more red zone touchdowns. It’s not like the Ravens have been running the ball well near the goal line either. Baltimore has just five red zone rushing touchdowns from its running backs this season. To put Flacco’s red zone struggles in perspective, he still has fewer touchdown passes than Carson Palmer and he hasn’t played since Week 7.
Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings – Murray’s emergence has really hurt Jerick McKinnon owners, especially when it comes to red zone touches. Murray has scored three red zone touchdowns in the last two games. He now ranks tied for ninth with 20 red zone carries, despite not playing much in the first four games. McKinnon has 12 red zone carries and two touchdowns but it looks like Murray will dominate touches near the goal line for the rest of the season.
Samaje Perine, Washington Redskins – Perine doesn’t have great red zone numbers now but that’s likely to change over the final month of the season. He scored his first red zone touchdown last week versus the Saints on 15 carries. However, with both Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson out for the year, Perine takes over as the uncontested lead back. Perine only has three carries from inside the 5-yard line. Kelley had six and scored three touchdowns. Overall, Kelley and Thompson combined for 23 red zone carries. Most of those carries will now belong to Perine. He should really help owners during fantasy playoffs.
Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs – Hunt got off to a fast start this season but he’s been pretty quiet over the last month. Hunt has scored just two red zone touchdowns on 20 carries. He has the same amount of carries as Murray and one fewer touchdown. That’s not exactly what owners were expecting after what they saw from Hunt early in the year. Hunt has received 74 percent of the Chiefs red zone rushing attempts, he’s just failed to convert those attempts into more scores.
Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles – It’s surprising to see such a powerful runner like Ajayi rank as one of the worst red zone runners in the NFL, but that’s where he stands heading into Week 12. Ajayi has gotten 15 red zone carries with the Eagles and Dolphins. He’s gained 11 yards and failed to score a touchdown. Even more surprising is Ajayi hasn’t received one carry from inside the 5-yard with either team. The Eagles seem content to use LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement more in the red zone. Heck, even Kenyon Barner scored a short touchdown last week. Ajayi will probably get one sooner or later but overall, he’s been a non-factor in the red zone this season.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals – Fitzgerald continues to show his greatness by staying relevant with below-average quarterbacks. Once Carson Palmer went down with an injury, every other Cardinals receiver fall off the fantasy map. Not Fitz. He still ranks fifth in red zone targets (14) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (4). While Jordy Nelson has seen just one red zone target and hasn’t scored a touchdown since Aaron Rodgers got hurt, Fitzgerald is quarterback proof. His numbers aren’t as good without Palmer but they’re good enough to still have fantasy relevance.
Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins – Landry wasn’t known as a huge red zone threat but that changed this year. Landry has seen 12 red zone targets and turned half of them into scores. His six red zone touchdowns are the most by a receiver in the NFL and rank only behind Jimmy Graham (7) overall. Before this year, Landry had only scored 13 touchdowns. He already has six in the red zone. Jay Cutler is questionable with a concussion this week but Landry gets targeted by both Cutler and Matt Moore, so it shouldn’t matter who is under center. For a team with one red zone rushing touchdown out of its running backs, Landry is the top offensive weapon near the goal line. All six of his scores have come from inside the 10-yard line.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions – Tate was held to three catches by the Bears defense last Sunday. Prior to that, he had at least five receptions in five straight games. Tate hasn’t made much of an impact in the red zone though. He’s only been targeted in the red zone six times with one touchdown. Tate is seeing just 11.1 percent of the Lions red zone targets. Tate continues to rack up the receptions but unfortunately for fantasy owners, very few of them have come in the red zone.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins – While Landry has been a pleasant surprise in the red zone, the bigger Parker has been a disappointment. Parker has seven red zone targets and just one touchdown. He’s seeing 17.1 percent of the Dolphins red zone targets, compared to Landry’s 29.3 percent. Jay Cutler actually ranks tied for fifth in the NFL with 12 red zone touchdown passes, so it’s even more disheartening for Parker owners that he’s only scored once. Touchdowns can come in bunches but right now, Landry is clearly Miami’s top red zone receiver.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks – Graham has re-emerged as the red zone force he was back in his days with the Saints. After a slow start to the year, Graham now ranks first in red zone targets (22), Receptions (13) and touchdowns (7). We stated above how Wilson is forced to throw a lot near the goal line because of Seattle’s lack of a running threat. Graham has reaped the benefits. Six of Graham’s seven red zone scores have come from inside the 10-yard line. After combining for just eight touchdowns over the last two years, Graham is once again on pace for double-digit scores in 2017.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Brate was a force in the red zone last season and for the early part of this year but he’s fallen off in the last month. He has nine red zone targets and four touchdowns. While those numbers are good, the problem is Brate has only two red zone target and hasn’t scored since Week 5. The emergence of O.J. Howard is a big reason for Brate’s decline but Jameis Winston getting hurt didn’t help either. Winston often looked for Brate. In three games since Ryan Fitzpatrick took over, Brate has been targeted a total of 10 times with just three receptions and he hasn’t topped 12 yards receiving. Brate did catch his last touchdown from Fitzpatrick in Week 5 but since then, he’s disappeared.