Fantasy Football: Week 12 Red Zone Report

The red zone is a gold mine for fantasy scoring. Of the 70 offensive touchdowns scored in Week 12, we saw 52 of them (74%) come from within the 20-yard line, bringing the season total to 560 of 786 (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.

Dion Lewis Has Emerged as the Patriots' Top Back

The notoriously difficult to predict New England Patriots backfield has seen a major shift over the course of the season, with Dion Lewis emerging as the team's clear top back in the red zone. He has a 52.9% share of the team's red zone carries over the past four weeks, posting an especially strong 66.7% rate in Week 12. He's received four red zone carries in a game twice (Weeks 10 and 12), which is the most a New England back has posted since Week 2 when Mike Gillislee did it.

This is important because the Patriots currently sit third in the NFL in points scored, rank first in numberFire's Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) per play metric, and easily have the league's most red zone plays (140, with the next-highest mark sitting at 129).

Latavius Murray Is Seeing Elite Volume

Latavius Murray has been dominating the Minnesota Vikings' red zone touches recently, accounting 65.2% of carries inside the 20 over the past four weeks -- a mark that ranks ninth in the NFL. The Vikings are also one of the league's most run-heavy teams in the red zone, and that big market share has translated to the league's second-most red zone carries (14) during that four-week stretch. He also ranks fifth in red zone carries despite starting the season as a backup.

He has a 14.3% red zone rushing touchdown rate on the season, which sits slightly below his 18.8% career average. While one touchdown per game isn't a pace we should expect him to keep up, he does offer plenty of touchdown upside for the remainder of this season.

Davante Adams Can Still Score With Brett Hundley

Davante Adams has been a dominant red zone force for a while, but he was playing with one of the league's best quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers. There were a ton of reasons to be concerned about Adams' prospects when Brett Hundley took over under center following Rodgers' injury. It doesn't seem to be an issue, though.

Adams has a ridiculous 37.5% red zone receiving touchdown rate with Rodgers throwing to him over the past two seasons, and while that has predictably fallen with Hundley, his 22.2% mark is nothing to scoff at. He combines that continued efficiency with some strong volume, accounting for half of Hundley's red zone targets and ranking second in red zone target market share (60%) over the past four weeks.

Play-Calling Trends to Monitor

After spending most of the season using a run-heavy approach in the red zone, the New Orleans Saints have been significantly more pass-happy lately, calling eight passes and only two runs over their past two games. For the most part, though, play-calling trends are getting a lot more consistent and predictable as our sample size gets bigger.

There haven't been any big changes on the extreme ends of the spectrum. Our five most pass-happy teams are the Miami Dolphins (2.78-to-1 pass-to-run ratio), Detroit Lions (1.82), Kansas City Chiefs (1.78) and Arizona Cardinals (1.70), while the five most run-heavy have been the Jacksonville Jaguars (0.70), Tennessee Titans (0.76), Cleveland Browns (0.76), Carolina Panthers (0.80) and Minnesota Vikings (0.82).

Reflecting on Last Week's Trends

To close things off, let's look back at how the players outlined in last week's Red Zone Report fared.

Orleans Darkwa didn't see much raw volume, as the New York Giants ran only three plays in the red zone, but he did handle their lone red zone rush. He continues to be their top back in all situations, including on the goal line.

The situation in Arizona was much the same, as their lone offensive snap inside the 20 was a carry for Adrian Peterson. His touchdown upside is capped a bit by the Cards' offensive ineptitude, but we can still expect him to find the end zone a few times moving forward.

Michael Crabtree made headlines for all the wrong reasons last week, getting suspended for his altercation with Aqib Talib. He made it only five snaps into the game, so there wasn't any red zone usage to look at. His absence does leave some volume to go around, giving Jared Cook (the team's other leading red zone receiver) some intriguing upside while Crabtree is absent in Week 13.