Fantasy Football: Week 14 Red Zone Report
The red zone is a gold mine for fantasy scoring. Of the 79 offensive touchdowns scored in Week 13, we saw 59 of them (75%) come from within the 20-yard line, bringing the season total to 670 of 932 (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.
Jamaal Williams' Upside is For Real
Over the past four weeks, there is only one player that has accounted for at least 50% of his team's red zone opportunities (targets plus rush attempts) -- Jamaal Williams, whose 52.9% market share is over 5% higher than the next-best (47.1%). His red zone opportunities have increased with each successive game over that stretch as well, with 1, 3, 5, and a league-high 9 in Week 14.
His upside is no secret, with three red zone touchdowns in his last three games, while he has also added a pair of receiving touchdowns from outside the red zone. This workload near the end zone has finally caught up with his overall volume (he has at least 21 total opportunities in each of his last five games), and that big volume in his last two games came despite the return of Aaron Jones.
It appears that Aaron Rodgers is set to return this week, and even with Brett Hundley at the helm, the Green Bay Packers offense still ranks top-10 in numberFire's Adjusted Net Expected Points (NEP) per play metric.
Frank Gore is Back for the Home Stretch
The Indianapolis Colts used Frank Gore heavily in the red zone to start the season, as he opened the year with a team-high 25% market share of the team's red zone opportunities through the first four weeks. His usage then trailed off for a while, but has bounced back in a big way recently.
Gore has eight red zone opportunities over his last three games, accounting for 47.1% of the team's total over that stretch, as well as an especially high 72.7% of the Colts' red zone carries. He's not an especially efficient threat near the end zone, converting only 13.7% of his opportunities into touchdowns since joining the Colts, but that volume gives him some appealing upside to go with the overall volume that you can nearly always count on him for.
Travis Kelce Won't Stop Scoring
Travis Kelce's touchdown numbers are down a bit recently, having scored in only one of his last four games (finding the end zone twice in that one, both on plays from outside the red zone). He still has seven red zone targets over that stretch, accounting for a hefty 41.2% market share of the Kansas City Chiefs' total. His red zone usage has also been consistent all season, and he ranks seventh in the NFL with 18 red zone targets on the year, while his 32.7% market share ranks top-10.
He has converted 26.4% of his career red zone looks into touchdowns, and this recent 0-for-7 stretch is not something that's going to hold up for long. There's no need to be worried about Kelce's touchdown upside for your fantasy playoff run.
Play-Calling Trends to Monitor
The Minnesota Vikings were uncharacteristically pass-heavy in the red zone this week, calling 10 pass plays to only one run. They combined for 20 runs and only 6 passes in the two games before that though, and we should expect things to settle back down with a more run-heavy approach again moving forward.
The Dallas Cowboys initially looked like they were going to start throwing a lot more with Ezekiel Elliott suspended, and Weeks 10 and 11 both saw Dallas call at least 2.5 times as many passes as runs in the red zone, but the Cowboys have shifted back to their early-season approach in recent weeks, with red zone pass-to-run ratios of 0.60 or lower in each of their last three.
This deep into the season, things don't change too much with the teams on the most extreme ends of the play-calling spectrum. Our five most pass-heavy red zone teams have been the Miami Dolphins (2.90-to-1 pass-to-run ratio), Kansas City Chiefs (1.97), Seattle Seahawks (1.74), Detroit Lions (1.65) and Oakland Raiders (1.59), while the Jacksonville Jaguars (0.69), Tennessee Titans (0.71), Carolina Panthers (0.76), Dallas Cowboys (0.84) and Indianapolis Colts (0.88) make up the most run-heavy.
Reflecting on Last Week's Trends
Gurley continued to see big volume, notching five red zone opportunities (55.6% of the Los Angeles Rams' total), and he continued to show off his big fantasy upside, scoring twice.
Bell's week was very similar, turning 2 carries and 3 targets into 2 rushing touchdowns and 1 receiving touchdown -- a big bounce-back after scoring only one touchdown in his previous four games.
Hopkins was another hit, turning his only red zone target (the only one any Houston Texans player saw) into a touchdown, while also adding a touchdown from outside the red zone as well.