Fantasy Football: Red Zone Targets
Continuing with part two of this four-part red zone series, we shift our focus from running backs who dominated in the red zone to wide receivers. Touchdowns are incredibly valuable in the fantasy football community, and although they are unpredictable, we can get a better understanding of where the scoring plays are likely to come by looking at red zone targets.
Red zone targets are a great statistic to follow throughout the season, as red zone packages change from season-to-season, but for the most part, those who dominated last season in the red zone are likely to at least be involved again this season. The closer to the end zone a wideout is targeted, the more likely he is to score a touchdown.
Scoring opportunities are what it’s all about in fantasy, and red zone targets are especially important when playing in standard leagues, as the majority of your success will be based on how often your players find the end zone.
Red Zone Targets: Running Backs
The highlighted players below are the ones we’ll focus on. The numbers are from Pro Football Reference, and we are looking at wide receivers only. Jimmy Graham led the league in red zone targets, catches, and touchdowns, but we’ll take a look at him next week when we break down tight end red zone targets.
2017 Red Zone Targets for Wide Receivers
Inside the 20-yard line:
- Keenan Allen – 24 TGT – 11 REC – 4 TD -> Expect even more work with Hunter Henry sidelined for the season.
- Davante Adams – 23 TGT – 15 REC – 6 TD
- Cooper Kupp – 23 TGT – 13 REC – 5 TD
- Jarvis Landry – 23 TGT – 18 REC – 9 TD
- Larry Fitzgerald – 21 TGT – 12 REC – 6 TD -> Capable of repeating similar numbers.
- Antonio Brown – 20 TGT – 11 REC – 6 TD -> Awesome.
- Dez Bryant – 20 TGT – 11 REC – 5 TD -> Depends on where he lands, but he should remain strong red zone option due to size and ability. Has high touchdown upside.
- Julio Jones – 19 TGT – 5 REC – 1 TD
- DeAndre Hopkins – 19 TGT – 9 REC – 7 TD -> Could improve on last year’s numbers.
- Mike Evans – 19 TGT – 5 REC – 3 TD -> Very Julio like with the inefficiency. Expect positive regression.
Inside the 10-yard line
- Keenan Allen – 15 TGT – 7 REC – 4 TD
- Jarvis Landry – 14 TGT – 11 REC – 9 TD
- Julio Jones – 11 TGT – 4 REC – 1 TD
- Michael Crabtree – 11 TGT – 5 REC – 5 TD
- Antonio Brown – 10 TGT – 7 REC – 6 TD
- Dez Bryant – 10 TGT – 4 REC – 3 TD
- DeAndre Hopkins – 10 TGT – 7 REC – 7 TD
- Mike Evans – 9 TGT – 1 REC – 1 TD
- Nelson Agholor – 9 TGT – 6 REC – 3 TD
- Michael Thomas – 9 TGT – 7 REC – 5 TD
Total Catches in Red Zone
Jarvis Landry – 18
Davante Adams – 15
Cooper Kupp – 13
Nelson Agholor – 13
Larry Fitzgerald – 12
Keenan Allen – 11
Antonio Brown – 11
Dez Bryant – 11
Stefon Diggs – 11
Demaryius Thomas – 10 -> Denver’s offense will likely be better with Case Keenum under center.
Touchdowns in Red Zone
Jarvis Landry – 9
Stefon Diggs – 7
DeAndre Hopkins – 7
Alshon Jeffrey – 7
Sammy Watkins – 7 -> Expect negative regression, as Travis Kelce has been very productive in the red zone in years past.
Davante Adams – 6
Larry Fitzgerald – 6
Antonio Brown – 6
A.J. Green – 6
Cooper Kupp – 5
Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
Davante Adams finished with the third most red zone targets for the second straight season. Nobody has more red zone targets than his 46 over the last two seasons, and only Jordy Nelson has more red zone touchdowns than Adams’ 15 over that time frame. Nelson is gone, but in comes Jimmy Graham, who led all players in targets, catches and touchdowns in the red zone. Even still, the addition of Graham shouldn’t hurt Adams, as he’s been productive over the last two seasons with Nelson getting a lot of attention as well. Aaron Rodgers loves to throw the ball, and he loves to chuck it in the red zone. The Packers quarterback finished first in red zone passing attempts in 2016, and he finished second in 2015 and 2014. Even with a better running attack, Rodgers should finish among the top QBs in red zone passing attempts.
Jarvis Landry – Cleveland Browns
Jarvis Landry’s 23 red zone targets last season may have been a surprise to some after only having nine in 2016, but he had 23 in 2015 as well. Landry’s 23 in ’15 were the sixth most, and his 23 last season were tied for the second most. Keenan Allen was the only wide receiver to have more targets inside the 20 and 10 than Landry last season. No wide receiver had more red zone catches (18) or touchdowns (9) than the former Dolphin. Landry’s volume inside the red zone shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he led the league in catches last season and has the third most catches in the NFL since his debut four years ago. It’s his production that took most off guard. Landry had 10 combined red zone touchdowns over his first three seasons and is very unlikely to repeat the nine he had in 2017. Landry is one of several new pieces in the Cleveland offense and there’s no telling how the targets will play out, but he’s a great bet to finish inside the top 10 yet again.
Michael Crabtree – Baltimore Ravens
Michael Crabtree finished with the third most red zone targets inside the 10-yard line last season, and he finished with the six most red zone targets in 2016. Eleven of his 16 touchdowns over the past two seasons have come inside the red zone, and he’ll continue to be the No. 1 option inside the 20 on his team even with the move to Baltimore. He’s unlikely to get to the 140 target or the 80 plus catch mark in his first season with the Ravens, but he’s poised to be Joe Flacco’s new favorite target in the passing game. Crabtree has more value in standard leagues due to his touchdown upside.
Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp had a fantastic rookie season and was a beast inside the red zone on what was the highest scoring team in the league in 2017. Kupp’s 23 red zone targets were tied for the second most, his 13 red zone catches were the third most, and his five red zone touchdowns were tied for the 10th most. In fact, all five of his touchdowns came inside the red zone. Sammy Watkins and his seven red zone touchdowns are gone, and that should help improve Kupp’s numbers in year two of his NFL career. If it’s not Todd Gurley, it’ll likely be Kupp’s number that will get called. The Rams had 4.3 red zone scoring attempts per game last season, which were the second most in the NFL.
Nelson Agholor – Philadelphia Eagles
Nelson Agholor is another slot wideout who had success in the red zone last season. He finished in the top 10 in red zone targets inside the 10, and his 13 catches in the red zone were tied with Kupp for the third most. Carson Wentz and the Eagles spread the ball out pretty evenly in the red zone last season: Agholor 18, Zach Ertz 18, and Alshon Jeffery 17. With LeGarrette Blount’s departure to Detroit and no real true goal-line back on the roster in Philly, Agholor will likely be involved again in the red zone in 2018. The Eagles’ 3.5 red zone scoring attempts per game last season were tied for the fifth most, and they finished third in red zone touchdowns.
Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones was at least targeted 19 times in the red zone last season. Problem is … he caught only five balls for one touchdown. He finished tied for fifth on his own team with 10 red zone targets in 2016, and he has 10 red zone catches and three touchdowns in his last two seasons with Atlanta. That’s unacceptable. Even looking back on last season, Julio’s only red zone touchdown came very late in garbage time, in a game against the Patriots. The Falcons at least made an effort to give him more looks inside the 20 and especially inside the 10, where he finished third among wideouts with 11 red zone targets. Expect some positive touchdown regression for Jones this season, and perhaps great value on draft day.
Allen Robinson – Chicago Bears
Allen Robinson played only part of one game last season, but he’s proven to be a great red zone asset in the past. He had 19 red zone targets and six touchdowns in 2016 after leading the league with 12 red zone touchdowns in 2015. A-Rob finished with the sixth most red zone targets that season (22), and he had the second most catches (15). Robinson will be the clear-cut No. 1 option in the passing game in his first season with the Bears, and he’ll likely finish in the top 10 in red zone targets.