Fantasy Football: Week 6 Red Zone Report
The red zone is a gold mine for fantasy scoring. Of the 61 offensive touchdowns scored in Week 6, 39 of them (64%) came from within the 20-yard line, bringing the season total to 293 of 402 (73%).
Five of the six wideouts with at least five touchdowns rank in the top-10 in fantasy scoring, while the four running backs with at least six touchdowns make up the entire top-four of fantasy scorers.
Touchdowns are also one of the most volatile stats on a week-by-week basis, but by taking a look under the surface and identifying players that are getting the ball in the red zone, we can identify those who have the highest probability of reaching the end zone. This can give us an idea of whose fantasy success is likely to continue, while also identifying players that are scoring at unsustainably high rates and may make for good sell-high candidates. Furthermore, it can help us identify which players are scoring at low rates and which are likely to improve, making it worth considering trying to acquire them for cheap.
Let's get right to it.
LeGarrette Blount Will Start Scoring Again
LeGarrette Blount has been recording some nice volume with the Philadelphia Eagles, with at least 14 carries in four of his six games this season (including each of his last three). His fantasy value has been limited by his lack of touchdowns, though -- he's only recorded one receiving and one rushing touchdown, and they came in the first three weeks of the season.
However, that lack of touchdowns isn't something you need to be worried about moving forward. He's getting the ball in scoring range and it's just a matter of time before he starts finding the end zone. His nine red zone carries are the fifth-most in the NFL over the past three weeks, and he's the only player in that top-five to not have a touchdown.
He has a career 18.8% rushing touchdown rate in the red zone. With his volume, a bump in scoring will give him some serious fantasy value over the remainder of the season.
Todd Gurley's Value Is Still There
Todd Gurley opened the year scoring touchdowns at an unsustainable rate, with six in his first three games. Regression has hit him hard -- he has only found paydirt once in three games since then, and that score didn't come in the red zone.
That comes despite the fact that he has continued to see a hefty workload inside the 20. Gurley has gotten10 opportunities (targets and carries) in the red zone over those past three games, a mark that is not only good for 43.5% of the Los Angeles Rams' total, but also ranks sixth in the NFL. The rate at which we can expect Gurley to score probably lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
He has a career 21.2% rushing touchdown rate and 11.8% receiving touchdown rate in the red zone, and while his recent lack of scoring has hurt his fantasy value, it's not something to worry about unless his overall volume also starts to drop off.
Concern for Kareem Hunt
Speaking of volume dropping off, Kareem Hunt handled 100% of the Kansas City Chiefs' red zone carries and 47.4% of their opportunities through the first three weeks of the season. His share of carries has dropped to 66.7% and his opportunities are all the way down to 29.6% over the past three weeks, ranking only 20th in the NFL.
He still has eight red zone carries in that time, but hasn't gotten into the end zone at all. And with the Chiefs shifting to a more pass-heavy red zone approach over the past couple weeks (they have a 2.0-to-1 pass-to-run ratio in Weeks 5 and 6), his upside does take a bit of a hit. That's not to say he's not still one of fantasy football's top running backs, but his weekly ceiling doesn't look to be quite where it was to start the year when he scored six touchdowns in three games.
Will Fuller's Production Isn't Sustainable
You probably don't need to be told that a guy scoring five touchdowns on 14 total targets is an anomaly, but here it is.
No wideout has ever finished a season with at least 50 targets and scored on even 20% of their targets. Will Fuller's 36% is an absurd mark, and unless you're already willing to crown him as a superior touchdown scorer to Randy Moss, you should be ready for his numbers to take a huge hit moving forward.
It's not like he's seeing much red zone volume, either -- he's garnered just three targets and one carry, so his 100% receiving touchdown rate in the red zone is another mark that's certain to plummet.
Beware of Davante Adams
Davante Adams offered a ton of fantasy value last year due to his high touchdown numbers. His nine red zone receiving touchdowns were second in the league, while his 39.1% red zone touchdown rate crushed the league average of 22.7%. That didn't look like a sustainable mark, but to Adams' credit, he's also been on a heater to start 2017 with a 30.8% touchdown rate that includes four touchdowns on nine red zone targets in his past three games.
Part of that may be due to Adams' abilities, but variance and playing with Aaron Rodgers both also served to give him a boost.
With Rodgers likely done for the season, Adams will have a far less efficient quarterback throwing to him. Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt as a dominant red zone receiver, a sharp decline in quarterback play is likely to lead to a drop in touchdown numbers. The Green Bay Packers will also likely not be throwing as often in scoring range with their top passer sidelined. So, a drop in both red zone volume and efficiency spells serious trouble for Adams' fantasy value.
Melvin Gordon's Is Seeing Elite Rushing and Receiving Volume
Melvin Gordon has been dominating red zone touches for the Los Angeles Chargers lately. His 76.9% share of the team's red zone carries over the past three weeks ranks fifth in the NFL, while he has also accounted for 28.6% of the targets, giving him a 47.1% market share of opportunities (which ranks third). In terms of raw opportunities, there are only two players with more carries and three players with more targets inside the 20 since Week 4, leaving Gordon as both a top red zone rusher and receiver.
He has seven touchdowns in six games, and while his touchdown rate (39.1%) could be hit by some regression, this dominant volume means he should continue to offer an elite ceiling -- even if his efficiency trends downwards a bit.
Play-Calling Trends Worth Monitoring
We have a couple of new names in the top-five most pass-heavy teams this season now. The Seattle Seahawks (2.55-to-1 pass-to-run ratio) are leading the way, followed by the Detroit Lions (2.33), Arizona Cardinals (2.05), Green Bay Packers (2.05) and New York Jets (1.90).
On the other side of the spectrum, we have the Tennessee Titans (0.56), Jacksonville Jaguars (0.78), Washington (0.80), Carolina Panthers (0.88) and Minnesota Vikings (0.88) are the most run-heavy squads inside the 20.
After opening the season very run-heavy, the Rams posted ratios of at least 3.0-to-1 in Weeks 4 and 5, but leaned on their ground game again in Week 6 (0.25).
Arizona does still sit in the top-five most pass-heavy teams, but they have ratios of 0.50 and 0.83 over the past two weeks. The addition of a potentially competent goal-line back in Adrian Peterson may mean they won't be throwing as much near the end zone, making this a situation worth keeping an eye on.
Reflecting on Last Week's Trends
With so many of their offensive weapons hurt, the New York Giants didn't run a ton of red zone snaps in Week 6, but it was Orleans Darkwa that saw the bulk of the work -- he took two of the team's three carries (accounting for 40% of the opportunities) inside the 20.
Keenan Allen only saw one red zone look this past weekend, and his red zone target share is now down to 28.6% over the past three weeks. He's still seeing plenty of overall volume, though, and his touchdown rate is still low enough that we can expect him to benefit from some regression.
The Baltimore Ravens leaned heavily on the pass in the red zone this week, with eight passes and no runs called. Javorius Allen didn't see any of those targets, but he still boasts a strong 66.7% share of the team's red zone carries and team-high 31.3% of opportunities over the past three weeks.