Fantasy Football: Week 10 Red Zone Report
The red zone is a gold mine for fantasy scoring. Of the 73 offensive touchdowns scored in Week 10, we saw 51 of them (70%) come from within the 20-yard line, bringing the season total to 469 of 652 (72%).
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 who 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 who 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.
Don't Worry About Le'Veon Bell
Le'Veon Bell has a reasonable five rushing touchdowns this season, but he combines that with no receiving touchdowns. Making matters worse, he's only found the end zone once in his last three games.
There's no need to be concerned about Bell's upside moving forward, though. He leads the NFL with 19 red zone carries and 20 red zone opportunities (carries plus targets) over the course of those three games. A 5% touchdown rate is comically low, and comparing it to Bell's career averages (15.5% rushing, 11.1% receiving), it's clear that we're dealing with some unfortunate variance.
With his absurd overall workload (averaging 28.7 carries and 4.0 targets per game) in that stretch holding his fantasy value up, his ceiling when he starts finding the end zone again is truly elite.
There's Also Room for Optimism for Antonio Brown
With double-digit touchdowns in each of the last three seasons, Antonio Brown's fantasy value has taken a hit in 2017 -- he's scored only three times through nine games. He's seeing a reasonable red zone workload, though, ranking eighth in the NFL with 11 targets, putting him on a 16-game pace for 19.6. That's lower than the 24.3 he has averaged over the past three seasons, but it's still decent.
The big difference this season has come in his efficiency (or lack thereof). He has only managed an 18.2% red zone receiving touchdown rate, which pales in comparison to the 27.4% he posted in that three-year stretch.
While the Steelers' offensive woes may be playing a role, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has only seen his red zone passing touchdown rate fall by two percentage points (from 22.5% to 20.5%). Brown's 11-target sample size is small, and even if he doesn't quite hit the efficiency marks that he has in the past, he stands to see an uptick in touchdown scoring down the stretch.
The Saints' Backfield Is Scoring at an Unsustainable Rate
In an absurd run, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara both rank top five among running backs in fantasy points per game over the past four weeks. Part of this success has been their volume, but they have also been bolstered by impressive touchdown numbers. They've combined for nine scores, with Ingram finding paydirt five times and Kamara getting there four times himself.
All of Ingram's touchdowns and three of Kamara's have come in the red zone.
They both have seen plenty of opportunities in that time (14 for Ingram and 13 for Kamara), but their scoring rates are unsustainably high, even with this volume. Ingram boasts a 62.5% rushing touchdown rate in that time, and even with no receiving touchdowns, his 35.7% touchdown rate on his total opportunities is still very likely to come down. Over his career, Ingram has a 19.5% rushing and 7.1% receiving rate inside the 20.
As a rookie, we obviously don't have career averages to draw on for Kamara, but to put his 33% rushing touchdown rate into context, only two backs with at least 12 red zone carries last year managed touchdown rates above 33%. Nobody did it over a sample size of 25-plus carries.
This isn't to say these two won't continue offeing strong fantasy value moving forward, but it is worth keeping all of this in mind when considering their ceilings over the remainder of the season.
Don't Buy Jarvis Landry's Recent Fantasy Success
Jarvis Landry has seen his fantasy production buoyed recently by a significant increase in scoring. He's found the end zone three times in the last four weeks, bringing his season-long touchdown total to five. For some perspective, that's already tied for the highest mark of his career.
Generally reliant on volume and yardage for his fantasy scoring, Landry has seen decreased marks on those fronts lately, averaging 5.8 receptions and 50.0 yards per game over his last four. He's not actually seeing much volume in the red zone either, with those three scores coming on only four targets.
He has been an efficient red zone threat over his career (32.0% red zone receiving touchdown rate), but his unsustainable touchdown production on limited red zone volume holding up otherwise weak fantasy numbers raises all sorts of red flags for his value moving forward.
Play-Calling Trends to Monitor
The league's five most pass-heavy red zone teams this season are now the Miami Dolphins (2.27-to-1 pass-to-run ratio), Seattle Seahawks (2.0), Arizona Cardinals (1.71), Detroit Lions (1.69), and Oakland Raiders (1.63).
The Houston Texans opened the season fairly run-heavy in the red zone with a 1.08-to-1 ratio, but things have changed since Tom Savage took over at quarterback -- that rate has moved to a ridiculous 4.67 mark over the past two games. This has been largely thanks to Houston playing from behind. With Savage still at the helm, that's not likely to change much.
While the Saints' backfield isn't going to keep up their scoring rate, the team has been keeping the ball on the ground near the end zone recently, with a 0.36 pass-to-run ratio over the past two weeks. If this keeps up, they do stand to continue seeing great volume, and Drew Brees won't be likely to bounce back much from those low touchdown numbers.
Reflecting on Last Week's Trends
To close things off, let's look at how the players outlined in last week's Red Zone Report fared.
Ezekiel Elliott obviously didn't get any work, but LeSean McCoy handled the Buffalo Bills' only red zone carry, bringing his market share to 68.4% of carries and 42.9% of targets. Shady ranks second in the NFL with a 57.6% opportunity market share over the past four weeks.
Jimmy Graham notched another four red zone targets (80% of Seattle's total), finding the end zone twice.