Week 5: 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)

Last week I took a look at running backs with double digit red zone attempts, receivers with at least six red zone targets, and tight ends who were top four in red zone targets. This week, let’s look ahead to this weekend’s Week 5 games to analyze which players are being utilized in the red zone and what that can mean for them this week.

Running Backs
Devonta Freeman: 17 attempts/6TD
Freeman took two red zone attempts for two more touchdowns last week. He is the top scoring fantasy running back on a high octane offense that has been dominating their opponents. This week, Freeman will be facing a Washington Redskins defense that has been depleted with injury, but they have only given up one score on the ground this season. How much longer can he sustain this scoring blitz he is on? He is due to slow down eventually and Tevin Coleman will be returning to the lineup this week. Given Freeman’s success we cannot assume a 50/50 split but we can assume that the rookie will eat into Freeman’s workload. It is hard not to play Freeman but I am personally fading him this week.

Rashad Jennings: 7 attempts/1TD
The Giants are in a heavy rotation with their running back committee but Jennings stands out as the back with the most red zone attempts. Seven for one score through four games is nothing to get excited over, until you look at the match up of course. The San Francisco 49ers are giving up over 100 yards a game to running backs and have allowed rushing touchdowns. Andre Williams (six red zone attempts) is always a threat to vulture a touchdown, but Jennings figures to be the better play. Shane Vereen appears to be the odd man out in the red zone so choose wisely if you are rostering a New York Giants running back this week.

Danny Woodhead: 7 attempts/2TDs
Woodhead is an intriguing, dual threat option out of San Diego’s backfield. In addition to his two rushing touchdowns he also has a receiving score in the red zone. He is not just the third down or pass catching back. Woodhead handles the red zone responsibilities rather than rookie Melvin Gordon. He is a solid weekly flex play and someone remains under $5,000 on DraftKings. He is difficult to bench in season long leagues and nearly impossible for me to look past in daily games. The Monday night match up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are allowing an average of five receptions a game to running backs, is an ideal matchup for Woodhead. Put him in your flex spot this week to allow any late game roster shuffling, but you would probably be wise to leave him there come kickoff.

Wide Receivers
Larry Fitzgerald: 6 targets/4TDs
Four of Fitzgerald’s five touchdowns have come in the red zone. He is dominating all over the field but he is ridiculously efficient where it counts. On top of his overall 81% completion percentage he also has an 83% red zone completion percentage. Fitzgerald is the third overall scoring leader in fantasy football. He should keep this pace going against the winless Detroit Lions this week. They have been torched by every team that has played them and are allowing close to 300 receiving yards per game. The only threat to his value would be an early lead that would dictate the Cardinals to focus on the run.

Julio Jones: 8 targets/2TDs
It’s nearly impossible to mention wide receivers and not include Julio Jones. He can score from anywhere on the field but half of his four touchdowns have come in the red zone. He saw a down week in terms of targets in Week 4 but I fully expect him to be back in the double digit target mark in Week 5. The Washington Redskins will be without both DeAngelo Hall and Chris Culliver for this game. Although it really doesn’t matter who is covering Julio Jones it certainly helps that the team’s top corners will be watching from the sidelines. It really is not a question of if Jones will be used in the red zone it is more a question of how often he will be used and how many times he will score. You will never sit him in your season long leagues and he is always worth the top dollar price you will pay for him in daily games.

Vincent Jackson: 9 targets/2TDS
I’m not interested in Vincent Jackson because of his monster performance last week. There is another stat that caught my eye regarding him. Of all receivers only two account for 45% of their team’s red zone targets. DeAndre Hopkins is one and of course Vincent Jackson is the other. He is getting 27% of the team’s total targets but a massive 45% of the red zone targets. It may not be the first statistic that comes to mind when considering a receiver but in Jackson’s case it should be. Both of his touchdowns this season came in the red zone and he is currently the highest scoring Buccaneer in fantasy. Mike Evans is a younger and far superior receiver to Jackson but he is producing and until Evans returns to form we have to acknowledge, and use, Jackson. This week he plays against the Jacksonville Jaguars who have allowed six touchdowns to receivers. Given Jackson’s usage in the red zone he has the upside to score again this week.

Tight Ends
Since Rob Gronkowski is as obvious a play as ever I figured we should focus elsewhere.

Tyler Eifert: 6 targets/3TDs
Andy Dalton is coming into his own this season and is playing at possibly the highest level of his career. Eifert has been a major beneficiary of Dalton’s play. The matchup this week against the Seahawks should not scare you away from using Eifert. They are not as dominant against tight ends who are averaging nine points a game against them. Eifert has converted half of his red zone targets for scores. 50/50 odds at scoring on top of the nine points the Seahawks allow on average add up to a high tier scoring day for Eifert if he hits the end zone this week.

Larry Donnell: 6 targets/1TD
The volume is there for Donnell but the efficiency is not. When he does not score he is a bust but when he does he puts up solid points in the upper teens. The Giants will host the San Francisco 49ers during prime time this week. With Daniel Fells landing on IR this week Donnell now has zero competition for touches. The Giants should be in the red zone often against the sputtering 49ers and Eli Manning will look for his big tight end when they are down there. He just needs to convert to be relevant. At $2,900 on DraftKings I will be definitely be taking a few chances on Donnell this weekend.

To reiterate a point I made last week, 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. Our red zone statistics tools can help you determine red zone usage when you are building your lineups each week.