5 NFL Red Zone Trends to Monitor for Week 12

Over 11 weeks of work, NFL teams have produced 778 offensive touchdowns. Of those, 502 have come through the air with the other 276 on the ground, which equates to a 64.5% share in the way of pass attacks.

In the red zone, teams have accounted for 328 passing (31 in Week 11) and 243 rushing scores (20 this past week) inside the 20-yard line. As we've become accustomed to this year, passing touchdowns and overall scores are down from where they were in 2018, but rushing touchdowns are up by 16(!). Those same scores account for 1,312 fantasy points from passers, 1,458 from rushers, and 1,968 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.

Kamara Is Coming

It's been a rough season for Alvin Kamara owners. After being picked early in the first round (sometimes as high as first overall) of 2019 fantasy drafts, the Saints' highlight-reel back has played in only 8 of a possible 10 games. And when he's done so he has been nowhere near as productive in the touchdown department.

Following last year's 18-touchdown season (and 13 in the year prior), Kamara has a mere two touchdowns on his 162 combined opportunities (attempts + targets) on the ground and through the air. In part, he has Latavius Murray to blame for his lack of touchdown upside, but as it so happens that the former has only four fewer opportunities in the red zone despite missing two games and ceding all the usage to the latter.

Kamara is bound to receive more fantasy points by hitting paydirt. According to Pro Football Reference, the dual-threat back has received four targets and four carries inside the 20 over the last two weeks. However, he has zero touchdowns to show for it. In his first two years in the league, Kamara tallied a touchdown on every 4.6 red zone opportunities, but this year he's at just 11.0 even without Mark Ingram at his side. The NFL as a whole is averaging 4.7 opportunities per touchdown.

What better way to bounce back than in a favorable matchup against the Carolina Panthers this week. Carolina is third, allowing 24.3 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs, and 10.8 of those (44.4%) have come in the form of touchdowns. At $8,300 on FanDuel, he's a top-four play by both projected fantasy points and points per dollar, according to our models.

Landry Getting the Red Zone Love

Baker Mayfield and the Browns have been far from consistent this year. While they are tied for 11th in red zone plays they also sit in a two-way tie for 19th in red zone scores at 17. Of those, nine are of the rushing variety, but of the eight passing scores Jarvis Landry can claim three of them.

On the year, Landry now has a team-high 14 red zone targets for a 31.1% target share. He has eight more than Odell Beckham, and in case you thought he would eventually give up some to the better talent you've been proven wrong.

In the last three games alone, Landry leads the entire league with seven red zone targets, with which he's turned in three touchdowns inside the 20. And that's despite the presence of now passing-down back Kareem Hunt.

This week's matchup couldn't get any juicier for Landry. Not only is he facing his former team, the Miami Dolphins, but his Browns check in as one of two teams with a slate-high 27.75 implied total for the featured slate. And to make matters better for his value Miami has allowed a red zone receiving touchdown in three consecutive weeks with two of those on a total of 11 targets to wide receivers.

Oakland Inside the 10

Again, looking at the three most recent weeks, we can see that the Oakland Raiders' offense has been on a roll. In that time frame, they are first in plays (22) inside the 10 and second (14) from the five in. They have scored seven and five touchdowns, respectively, in those samples.

They have been quite balanced in their attack, throwing for two and running for three inside the five, while they've added two more passing scores when you zoom out to the nine-yard line. For the red zone as a whole, they have converted 8 of 39 plays into touchdowns with 4 passing on 20 attempts and 4 rushing on 19 attempts.

As they have gotten in even closer, though, Oakland has favored the run for most of the year now. In riding the workhorse that is rookie phenom Josh Jacobs, they have run the ball three more times than they have passed, but that is amplified from within five yards, where Oakland has run the ball 64% of the time. Jacobs has 12 of the 16 carries for five rushing scores. Derek Carr is the next-highest in volume with two carries and a touchdown.

Jacobs is in your starting lineup every week. But for daily fantasy, he is also worth a look every week, and this one is no different. Though the Jets rank ninth-best against the position, they have given up eight rushing touchdowns through 10 games, and all eight were surrendered over the matter of six games. We project Jacobs for 0.82 rushing touchdowns, putting him up there with Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry in that category.

Dallas' Run D

In one of this week's premier Sunday afternoon showdowns, the Dallas Cowboys and their seventh-ranked scoring defense (19.7 points allowed per game) travel to take on the New England Patriots in Foxboro. They do so with a secondary that's limited opponents to 11 passing touchdowns to date, and just 8 on 61 red zone attempts.

The running game is a different story. Flying in the face of guys like Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, Dallas' 10 rushing touchdowns against are tied for 20th. Teams have ran the ball 55 times for 10 touchdowns inside the 20, nine of which have come from no more than five yards out. You remember that Aaron Jones game, right?

According to Sharp Football Stats, the Dallas D has watched their foes run a league-high 80% of the time. Over the last three that sits at 75% with 15 runs to 5 passes. The league average is just 53% in favor of the run.

Teams are sticking to the ground game in close against Dallas. And this week, that bodes well for one Sony Michel. Michel has been held to a combined 14.8 fantasy points with zero touchdowns in the last three games, but for Week 11 we have him down for 0.52 touchdowns and 10.6 points. In case you're doubting him, be sure of him as your flex option in this matchup. And for DFS tournaments, you could do worse at his $6,300 price tag.

Play-Calling Trends

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.

TeamPass RatePass SuccessRun RateRun SuccessTeamPass RatePass SuccessRun RateRun Success

In recent weeks, the Patriots have passed the ball at a 74% rate in the red zone over the last three. Their success rate is higher in the run game (43%) than through the air (35%) in that span, and Julian Edelman is leading the way there with three catches on five targets. Phillip Dorsett and Mohamed Sanu have three red zone targets and one touchdown apiece. Dorsett left Sunday's game with an injury, meaning Edelman could command an even higher share -- that is, if New England decides to stick with the passing game in close.

On the other side of the coin, the Los Angeles Rams have gone run-heavy with injuries around the receiving corps. Brandin Cooks has missed the last two games with a concussion while Robert Woods sat out Week 11 for a personal issue. Over the last two, L.A. has run the ball on eight of nine red zone plays (an 89% clip that is second in the NFL) for 63% success rate -- 18% above league average. Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown each have touchdown run to their name, but Gurley's seen five of the eight runs, including one from the goal line.

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.