Week4: Analyzing Red Zone Efficiency

By Jen Ryan
(Reference Link: http://www.footballdiehards.com/fantasy_football_target_stats.cfm)
(Reference Link: http://www.footballdiehards.com/fantasyfootballtargets/fantasy-football-target-stats.cfm)
(Reference Link: http://www.footballdiehards.com/fantasy_football_Redzone_stats.cfm)

When it comes to fantasy football we care about one thing and one thing only – points. The more points your players accumulate, the higher your score is, the better your chances are at winning a contest or money. At their core, points are everything. Points have a direct correlation to targets. Volume combined with efficiency generates points and when you add in touchdowns those points become much higher. Typically quarterbacks are awarded four points per touchdown whereas running backs, receivers, and tight ends earn six. Using our Rushing Red Zone Stats and Fantasy Football Target Stats tools you can sort to your liking to analyze player usage and success in that important area of the field referred to as the red zone.

Running Backs
Currently, 16 running backs have run for more than one touchdown thus far in the 2015 season. There are obvious players to the likes of Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson and some not so obvious in the likes of Devonta Freeman and Zach Line (wait, who?).

Of those running backs with multiple touchdowns, let’s take a look at those who also have double digit red zone attempts.

Adrian Peterson: 18 attempts/2TD
No running back has been given the ball more in the red zone than Adrian Peterson, which should surprise no one. After being away from the game for essentially an entire season Peterson started off Week 1 slow with just ten attempts total. He was given more chances Week 2 and finally last week he found the end zone twice. In terms of efficiency he is only scoring on 11% of his red zone touches. The volume is there but Peterson is actually the least efficient back in the red zone among running backs who have seen double digit attempts.

Devonta Freeman: 15 attempts/4TD
Going from least to most efficient, Freeman leads in conversion percentage, scoring on 27% of his red zone attempts. He was in a time share with Tevin Coleman during the first two weeks but when given the opportunity to tote the rock in Week 3 , the Falcons gave Freeman 30 attempts to run all over the Dallas Cowboys. He ran wild, scoring three of his four touchdowns to date in that game alone. This slightly skews his red zone efficiency and is highly unlikely to match this stat line consistently. With Coleman still sidelined for the foreseeable future Freeman has little competition in the red zone outside of Julio Jones.

DeAngelo Williams: 13 attempts/3 TDS
Williams had a job to do while Le’Veon Bell was serving a two game suspension and he did it well. Week 3 saw the return of Bell and the disappearance of Williams, who saw one rushing attempt in the entire game. There is not much to say here except that it was fun while it lasted, but Williams days as a red zone threat are virtually over.

Jeremy Hill: 12 attempts/2 TDS, Giovanni Bernard: 12 attempts/0 TDS
Statistically, the Cincinnati Bengals have given half of their red zone rushing attempts to both running backs. Hill scored two touchdowns on his and Bernard failed to reach the end zone. This committee approach should continue until one out plays the other, out fumbles the other, or suffers an injury. Hill has been far more efficient in the red zone, scoring on 17% of his opportunities as opposed to Bernards 0% red zone scoring rate.

Chris Ivory: 11 attempts/2TDS
The New York Jets have found themselves a work horse in Chris Ivory but like many work horses he succumbed to an injury. Had he not missed Week 3 (active but did not play), Ivory’s attempts would almost certainly be higher and his touch down total would realistically be higher as well. The Jets are not shy about giving Ivory the ball when they actually make it to the red zone but keep in mind both of his scores came in Week 1 against the porous Browns rush defense. His probable status for this week is especially encouraging considering the Jets decided to rest him last week. If he is given the full work load in London this Sunday he has a high chance to hit the end zone and increase his current scoring percentage of 18%.

LeGarrette Blount: 11 attempts/3TDS
Three touch downs on 11 attempts makes Blount red zone reliable 27% of the time…sort of. Anyone who plays fantasy football is all too familiar with the phrase “Beletricks” and we never know who the coach will ride each week. Each of Blount’s touchdowns came in Week 3. He is sharing work with Dion Lewis but the red zone is where Blount’s utilization is evident. Of his 20 total attempts this season, 11 came in the red zone.

Chris Johnson: 10 attempts/2TDS
That old Chris Johnson is back for now. Bruce Arians has been using him like a work horse back in Andre Ellington’s absence and his usage could continue even when Ellington returns. Rookie David Johnson is explosive and has a score on the season but he is not being utilized near the goal line. Chris Johnson does have 10 red zone attempts but when you compare that to his 52 total attempts you can see he’s being used where it counts roughly 20% of the time. Chris Johnson will continue to be the back to own in Arizona but for now the red zone appears to be property of Larry Fitzgerald.

Latavius Murray: 10 attempts/2TDS
Identical to Johnson, Murray has two scores on his ten red zone attempts. Also identical to Johnson, his 10 red zone attempts come on 52 overall attempts. Murray was given the most opportunity in Week 3 when he saw over 20 touches for the first time. One could assume that with more frequency in the red zone from the Raiders more opportunities for Murray should be presented.

Wide Receivers
To narrow down receivers I had to filter down to only include receivers with at least six red zone targets or else you would reading throughout your weekend.

Julio Jones: 8 targets/2TDS
It should come as no surprise that Jones is the most targeted receiver in the red zone. He is a dual threat to catch long balls from Matt Ryan as well as short yard passes in the red zone. He had converted exactly 25% of his red zone targets which is rather efficient when you consider the attention he is given by defenses, particularly when he is in scoring range. The Falcons have two players who have been a force in the red zone. One may be a flash in the pan but we know for sure the other is not and is currently the best receiver in football.

DeAndre Hopkins: 7 targets/3TDS
Hopkins efficiency is mostly attributed to his physicality and talent but it is hard to ignore the fact that there is little to no offense outside of him. He is a sure fire WR1 and Ryan Mallet looks his way when it is time to score, but you have to wonder not if, but how much, his red zone opportunities will diminish when Arian Foster returns.

Julian Edelman: 7 targets/1TD
Edelman only scored on one of his red zone targets and has just two scores on the season. He is a PPR machine but he is much smaller in stature compared to most red zone threats and is Tom Brady’s last option when they are that deep in enemy territory. In the city of the red zone, Rob Gronkowski is the mayor.

Jarvis Landry: 7 targets/0TD
Ryan Tannehill is looking in Landry’s direction but he has yet to convert a red zone target. Some of this can be attributed to Landry himself, but Tannehill and the Miami offense in general have been less than efficient in terms of scoring.

A.J. Green: 7 targets/2TDS
The Cincinnati offense is distributed fairly evenly between the receivers, running backs, and tight end. Green’s two red zone touchdowns have to be compared to the fact that he has three scores in his past two games. He blew up in Week 2 and Dalton is playing better than he has in recent memory, so things could trend up for Green in scoring situations.

Steve Smith, Sr.: 7 targets/1TD
Smith is the focal point of this offense by default. The run game has been lack luster and there are no receivers to compete with Smith at this time. Seven targets are a great amount for a smaller, older receiver. He will have to convert more than 14% of the time if he wants Flacco to look in his direction more than his tight ends and running backs near the goal line.

Randall Cobb: 6 targets/4 TDS
Cobb is our most efficient red zone threat of all the offensive skill positions, converting 67% of his red zone targets. Three of his four touchdowns this season have come near the goal line. If Aaron Rodgers targets him with more frequency down there it is almost scary to imagine what sort of numbers Cobb can generate.

Brandon Marshall: 6 targets/3 TDS
With Eric Decker and Chris Ivory hobbled, Ryan Fitzpatrick has heavily leaned on Marshall, especially in the red zone. He shows no signs of aging and continues to make his case as a WR1. Converting half of his red zone targets only helps his cause.

Vincent Jackson: 6 targets/1TD
Jackson is the most targeted Buccaneer in the red zone he just can’t seem to haul in more of his targets. Mike Evans is returning to full health and those targets should skew more in his direction. With both receivers staggering at a massive 6’5’, you have to figure Jameis Winston will look more towards the talent rather than the veteran.

Tight Ends
The pool of players here is obviously smaller so I considered the players who are top four in targets.

Rob Gronkowski: 7 targets/4TDS
Tom Brady is angry and his play shows it. The New England Patriots have scored 78 total points through three weeks. Gronkowski is projected to have one of his best seasons to date and if he continues to convert over half of his red zone opportunities on top of all his other statistics he will be a lock to finish as the TE1, as expected.

Heath Miller: 7 targets/0TDS
This is not a stat Miller should be proud of. The veteran tight end has had seven red zone opportunities from his veteran quarterback and could not convert one. With Roethlisberger sidelined and Le’Veon Bell back from suspension, Miller’s red zone window of opportunity is now open just a crack.

Greg Olsen: 7 targets/2TDS
Olsen may be Cam Newton’s de-facto WR1 but the fact of the matter is that Newton himself is the first option near the goal line. Newton, like Olsen, has seven red zone attempts and scored on two of them. Olsen will get his and will continue to be looked at in the red zone but if Newton can take it for a score himself he will.

Tyler Eifert: 6 targets/3TDS
Eifert has become one of those overly-hyped preseason players that is actually living up to the hype. He missed Week 3 but all of Eifert’s touchdowns in the two games he did play came in the red zone. If Andy Dalton is throwing it in scoring situations he is looking at Eifert first.

Red zone targets should not be overlooked when considering who to start or sit in season long leagues or who to play in daily fantasy contests. Targets create opportunity. Opportunity used efficiently creates points. Touchdowns in the red zone are good for at least seven points when you include the catch itself. Do not forget to check our red zone statistics pages before setting any line ups and allow those numbers to factor into your decisions.