5 NFL Red Zone Trends to Monitor for Week 11
Through a whole 10 weeks of action, NFL teams have produced 709 offensive touchdowns. Of those, 456 have come through the air with the other 253 on the ground, which equates to a 64.3% share in the way of the passing game.
In the red zone, teams have accounted for 297 passing (27 in Week 10) and 223 rushing scores (17 this week) inside the 20-yard line. As we've become accustomed to, passing touchdowns and overall scores are down from a year ago, but rushing touchdowns are by only eight. Those same scores account for 1,188 fantasy points from passers, 1,338 from rushers, and 1,782 for those on the receiving end of red zone touchdown passes.
All that is to say that red zone opportunities are valuable for fantasy football players. In season-long leagues and daily games alike, we want to target guys with touchdown upside because of the amount of points you get on that one play compared to the 60 rushing or receiving yards you need to add up to that touchdown.
The question is, why are we talking about this if it is such a logical approach? The reasoning is simple: touchdowns are pretty hard to predict. Certain players are off the field in certain situations and packages, while others might be called upon as go-to guys in the red zone because of their size or versatility.
That's why we're here. All season, we're diving into the data to uncover valuable red zone trends that either point us toward one player or suggest we avoid another. Let's get down to it.
Dalvin Cook's Goal Line Workload
By now, we are all well aware of Dalvin Cook's role as the Minnesota Vikings' workhorse running back. His 203 rush attempts and 991 rushing yards lead the NFL, while his 48 targets, 40 catches, and 424 receiving yards sit in the top eight among all running backs.
That's great, but for all his opportunity, Cook has just 10 rushing touchdowns and 0 receiving scores to show for it. The rushing figure is promising, especially after tallying only four touchdowns in his first 15 games of his career, yet he could be due for a lot more given his usage inside the five. There, he has received 18 carries this season (according to Sharp Football Stats), eclipsing every other back by at least five. And over the last five weeks alone, his 13 carries inside the five lead the league by four; he's the only back in double-digits in that stretch.
He has five rushing touchdowns since Week 6, all of which have come from within the 20-yard line (four inside the five). His touchdown potential is as good as -- if not better than -- any back's.
Over the next six games, the Vikings will likely be favored in all but one game with four on their home turf at U.S. Bank. That means that Minnesota should be frequenting the red zone, where Cook has excelled all year. Starting this week against Denver, his $8,600 price tag keeps him in must-play territory as he comes with a projection of 0.79 rushing touchdowns and 22.8 FanDuel points in the matchup.
Eric Ebron's Shortcomings
A lot of talk has been around Eric Ebron and his failure to deliver when called upon this week. The disgruntled Indianapolis Colts tight end voiced his desire to be involved more only to have one ball stolen from him in the end zone en route to five-catch day on a dozen targets.
He made a play late in the game, and the combination of injuries and others' poor performances could force the Colts' hand in keeping Ebron as a primary pass-catching target. If that's the case, he and his big body should continue to be in the team's plans in the red zone. After all, that's where he's been targeted 10 times this season -- seven between the 11 and 20, one between the 6 and 10, and another 2 within five yards of paydirt. This week alone he was subject to a league-high five red zone targets.
The opportunity is there, and for all the disappointment his career has bred, Ebron's 20% red zone touchdown rate is 10% below the average for tight ends and 5% that all of all pass catchers. Sooner or later, so long as the Indy offense operates efficiently, he is going to cash in a score or two. That could be this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have allowed 5 touchdowns on just 51 targets to the tight end position this season.
At $5,200, you could do a lot worse than Ebron if you are punting at tight end. And in season long, he is a worthy streamer for those looking for a temporary replacement for Evan Engram or Jimmy Graham.
Mark Andrews Deep Shots
Similar to Ebron, Mark Andrews is another tight end that lacks the consistent upside of guys like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Austin Hooper. The second-year pro has had three or fewer catches in three games this year, and he's scored in only four of the nine. But the Baltimore Ravens have found a very good role for him in their offense alongside Lamar Jackson, as Andrews is playing no more than 57% of the snaps, but he is exposed to some high-leverage looks for fantasy purposes.
Andrews has seen seven targets in all but one game, and his nine red zone targets are first on the team by three. His four red zone scores have originated from the 17, 8, 3, and 2. Though, as we sort through the numbers and dig deeper, that's pretty surprising. Andrews actually leads all receivers in deep targets in the red zone, having garnered four from the zone spanning the 11 to 20-yard line. He has become a deep-shot guy for Baltimore, and that factor is one of many that makes him very relevant for tournament-winning upside, which he showed with his 17-yard score and 20.3 FanDuel points in Week 10.
This week, Andrews' price is up by just $100 in a game with a 49-point over/under and the Ravens favored by 4.5 at home. Their opponent, the Houston Texans, are in the middle of the pack in red zone target rate (21%), but top 10 in success rate (38%) to tight ends there. The argument for him as a cash-game option isn't there, but the game environment and opportunity is, once again making him a tournament play to stack along with Jackson.
Arizona's Pass Defense
That really mirrors the Cardinals' vulnerable spot in the red zone: defending the pass. On a pass ratio of 59%, Arizona has given up 17 passing touchdowns to 5 rushing touchdowns, all while allowing a 106.6 passer rating over 55 attempts. Their 52% passing success rate against is second for second-worst and is 6% above league average in that situation. Teams have targeted tight ends at a 35% rate for a 53% success rate that ranks 20th of all teams.
While Arizona is poor at stopping tight ends, they aren't much better against wideouts. Over the last five weeks, their 55% success rate allowed is 25th. So, not only is Jimmy Garoppolo ($8,000) in play but Emmanuel Sanders ($6,900) -- if he plays -- and Deebo Samuel ($5,600) would be in spots to pay off value in the plus matchup.
Again, our last trend is a full snapshot of each team's pass and run rate in the red zone, as well as their success rate in those two facets, per Sharp Football Stats.
|Team||Pass Rate||Pass Success||Run Rate||Run Success||Team||Pass Rate||Pass Success||Run Rate||Run Success|
On a large scale, the Oakland Raiders lead the NFL with an 85% success rate throwing to tight ends in the red zone. On 13 pass attempts, Darren Waller has turned seven targets into six catches and three touchdowns while Foster Moreau has taken five for five catches and three touchdowns. But over the last two weeks, Moreau has one target (and one touchdown) to Waller's zero. Look for the big tight end to bounce back and produce against the bottom-feeding Cincinnati Bengals.
For wide receiver, the Atlanta Falcons lead the way with a 70% success rate on 20 red zone targets. The problem is, that's only seven more than they have thrown to tight ends like the injured Austin Hooper. With him sidelined, Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones figure to be more of a presence inside the 20.
Brett Oswalt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Brett Oswalt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username BrettOswalt. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.