Fantasy Football: Week 11 Red Zone Report
The red zone is a gold mine for fantasy scoring. Of the 64 offensive touchdowns scored in Week 11, we saw 45 of them (70%) come from within the 20-yard line, bringing the season total to 508 of 716 (71%).
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.
Orleans Darkwa, Workhorse
Only two players have seen a bigger increase in market share of their offense's red zone carries over the last four weeks (compared to the first seven of the season) than Orleans Darkwa. He ranks seventh in the NFL with a 75.0% market share over those four games.
The New York Giants haven't been spending a ton of time in the red zone and they have taken something of a pass-heavy approach when they are there, which does limit Darkwa's ceiling a bit. However, his high market share means that if the Giants start getting into the red zone more often, his volume stands to go way up. He has also only managed one red zone touchdown on 10 carries this season.
We don't have a big sample size over his career, so it's hard to pinpoint what we can expect his efficiency to look like, but the league average for red zone rushing touchdown rate is 15.1% (and was 18.7% last year). Even if Darkwa proves to only be a middling back in the red zone, we can still expect an up-tick in touchdown scoring moving forward.
Adrian Peterson's Value Isn't Completely Gone
Adrian Peterson obviously got a lot of eyes on him when he scored twice in his debut with the Arizona Cardinals. He hasn't found the end zone since that game (Week 6), though, and a lot of the hype has quickly died down. The Cards still haven't been shy about giving him the ball since that debut (20.8 carries per game), but with his inefficient yardage numbers and lack of scoring, that hasn't meant much for his fantasy value.
Howver, touchdown scoring is something that could very well bounce back for AP. He ranks fifth in the NFL with a 78.6% market share of carries in the red zone over the past four weeks. Only two players have seen more red zone carries than his 11 in that time, but he hasn't converted any of those touches into scores.
Even if we're acknowledging some decline for the 32-year-old and not projecting his touchdown rate to return to where it was in his prime, a 0% rate is obviously running well below expectation. He quietly still offers plenty of fantasy upside as long as Arizona is feeding him the ball around the goal line.
Michael Crabtree Will Start Finding the End Zone Again
The Oakland Raiders have been the league's third-most pass-heavy red zone team this season, evidenced by a 1.75-to-1 pass-to-run ratio. They haven't spent much time in the red zone, though, which has hurt their players' scoring numbers. This is especially true over the last four weeks, during which their 4.0 red zone plays per game are tied for the league's fewest.
The Raiders' offense isn't an inept unit, though, ranking 15th in Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, so we can expect their number of red zone plays to increase significantly moving forward.
Being as pass-heavy as they are, an increase in volume will be most appealing for quarterback Derek Carr and his targets.
Michael Crabtree is the most interesting of the receiving options, with a 42.9% market share of the Raiders' red zone targets over the past four weeks. He hasn't scored a single touchdown in that span after grabbing six in his first six games this season, and while a touchdown-per-game pace isn't realistic to project, he should bounce back down the stretch.
Doug Martin Still Offers Plenty of Upside
Doug Martin made his season debut in Week 5 and scored touchdowns in each of his first two games back from suspension. He has cooled off significantly since -- he hasn't scored a touchdown in his last five games, which has been a huge blow to his fantasy value.
There was some reason for concern in Weeks 8 and 9 when he didn't see any red zone opportunities, but he has since seen his role near the end zone increase in a big way. He's registered four and seven red zone carries over his last two games, accounting for 100% of the Bucs' red zone carries and 61.1% of their opportunities (carries and targets) during that time.
The Tampa offense is struggling, but Martin has a career 13.1% rushing touchdown rate in the red zone. Getting such a huge share of the team's volume gives him a great ceiling.
Play-Calling Trends To Monitor
The Houston Texans' red zone play-calling continues to be incredibly dependent on game flow with quarterback Tom Savage at the helm. They had pass-to-run ratios of 4.0 and 6.0 in his first two starts since Deshaun Watson went down with an injury (both blowout losses), but then posted a 0.67 in Week 11's 10-point win. They are 7.0-point underdogs this week, so look for them to lean on the pass again at the goal line.
The Atlanta Falcons opened the year with a fairly run-heavy approach in the red zone, but it looked like that may have been changing in the middle of the season, with pass-to-run ratios of at least 1.50 in Weeks 7, 8 and 9. They now have ratios of 0.75 and 0.67 in their last two, making it seem like that will continue to be their approach moving forward.
Through Week 11, there's a pretty huge gap between the most run- and pass-happy teams in the red zone.
The top five most pass-heavy have been the Miami Dolphins (2.39-to-1 pass-to-run ratio), Seattle Seahawks (1.94), Oakland Raiders (1.75), Kansas City Chiefs (1.74) and Detroit Lions (1.71). The most run-heavy are the Jacksonville Jaguars (0.73), Cleveland Browns (0.79), Tennessee Titans (0.86), Carolina Panthers (0.87) and Indianapolis Colts (0.87).
Reflecting on Last Week's Trends
To close things off, lets look back at how the players outlined in last week's column fared.
Le'Veon Bell didn't see his touchdown numbers bounce back, but that's because there weren't many to go around after Antonio Brown took his share. The wide receiver notched four red zone targets and scored three times -- doubling his touchdown total for the season.
Jarvis Landry is also still maintaining what looks to be an unsustainable rate. He turned three red zone targets into one touchdown, giving him six touchdowns in his last seven games. He hadn't topped even five touchdowns in any of his first three NFL seasons, and unless his red zone volume increases significantly, his scoring numbers are going to come back down to earth.