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RED ZONE: Target Analysis

Tracking targets has become an important tool in the arsenal of successful fantasy football players. Targets dig deeper than more traditional stats like receptions, yardage, and touchdowns to tell us which players, for better or worse, are getting the opportunities.

Perhaps the most important targets of all are the red zone targets, the looks that come inside an opponent’s 20-yard line. The closer teams get to the end zone, the better chance they have of scoring touchdowns and the players that score those crucial short-yardage targets tend to be the most valuable fantasy assets.

Let’s take a look at the red zone targets from Week 2 and how it can impact this week and the rest of the 2017 fantasy football season.

Rank Player Team Pos. Rec. Targets Com.% TD
1 Sanders, Emmanuel DEN WR 3 4 75 2
2 Wright, Kendall CHI WR 1 4 25 0
3 Witten, Jason DAL TE 2 3 67 0
4 Hogan, Chris NE WR 2 3 67 1
5 Cobb, Randall GB WR 2 3 67 1
6 Landry, Jarvis MIA WR 2 3 67 0
7 Kelce, Travis KC TE 2 3 67 1
8 Allen, Javorius BAL RB 2 2 100 1
9 Engram, Evan NYG TE 2 2 100 1
10 Gurley, Todd LA RB 2 2 100 1

Emmanuel Sanders is a good case point in the value of touchdowns, as his 2-touchdown performance last week thrust him into the Top-12 overall, making him a WR1 through the season’s first two games. But Sanders’s 88 receiving yards are the second-fewest among any wide receivers currently in the Top-20, and his nine grabs are outside of the Top-20. Demaryius Thomas usually commands more red zone looks due to his size, so don’t count on Sanders repeating his lofty Week 2 role anytime soon.

Most of Chicago’s passing production has been accumulated in garbage time when the Bears were well behind. Banking on Kendall Wright or any Bears’ wide receiver at this point is a risky proposition.

Jason Witten continues to thrive as Dez Bryant has opened the season with a bad run of elite cornerbacks shutting him down. The Cowboys face Arizona on Monday Night Football in Week 3, meaning Bryant can expect to see plenty of Arizona’s shutdown corner, Patrick Peterson. This bodes well for Witten, who should continue to remain busy.

After a disappointing Week 1, Chris Hogan bounced back to play a big red zone role for the Patriots in Week 2. With the exception of TE Rob Gronkowski, it will be hard to depend on any Patriots’ pass catchers to have a consistent week-to-week role in that area. Danny Amendola is also expected to return against the Texans, further clouding the picture.

Jarvis Landry had a monster debut, catching 13 of 15 overall targets, including a pair of receptions in the end zone. Unfortunately, those catches combined for zero yards of offense, meaning Landry’s high-volume role under Jay Cutler could be similar to what we’ve seen from him throughout his career as a productive receiver, but one with limited touchdown potential.

Travis Kelce‘s two red zone catches went for 20 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown during a monster Week 2 performance from the star tight end.

Buck Allen played 62% of Baltimore’s snaps last week and could be in for a larger role with Terrance West (thigh) questionable. Allen, playing for the injured Danny Woodhead, has looked great, with 40 touches in two games and catching a 9-yard score in Week 2.

One of the few bright spots for the stagnant New York Giants offense for rookie TE Even Engram’s red zone role. Engram caught an 18-yard touchdown over the middle, then nearly scored a second touchdown in the third quarter before he was tackled at the 2-yard line. Engram’s red zone role is promising, but until the Giants offense can show any signs of sustained success, he’ll be hard to trust.

Rank Player Team Pos. Rec. Targets Com.% TD
11 Anderson, C.J. DEN RB 2 2 100 1
12 Hurns, Allen JAX WR 2 2 100 1
13 Washington, DeAndre OAK RB 2 2 100 0
14 Crabtree, Michael OAK WR 2 2 100 2
15 Matthews, Rishard TEN WR 1 2 50 0
16 Baldwin, Doug SEA WR 1 2 50 0
17 Cohen, Tarik CHI RB 1 2 50 0
18 Brown, Jaron ARI WR 1 2 50 0
19 Bryant, Dez DAL WR 1 2 50 1
20 Henry, Hunter LAC TE 1 2 50 0

True to the Bort Protocol, nearly all of Allen Hurns‘s production came in the second half, after the Jaguars had fallen hopelessly behind to the Titans. Both of the red zone grabs Hurns hauled in came with under three minutes remaining in the game. Hurns will see an increased weekly role with the season-ending injury to Allen Robinson, but he’s not going to be a reliable weekly scorer in a run-first offense commanded by Blake Bortles.

Both of DeAndre Washington‘s red zone receptions came from the Jets’ 11-yard line. With Marshawn Lynch assured of receiving most of the touches inside the 5-yard line, Washington isn’t likely to play a significant role in this area on a weekly basis.

After peppering Amari Cooper–who leads the NFL in drops– with red zone targets last week, Derek Carr returned to targeting Michael Crabtree again this week and Crabtree caught two of his three touchdowns from inside of the New York 2-yard line. Crabtree is far more likely to keep a consistent role as a short yardage receiver than Cooper is moving forward.

The two red zone looks that Tarik Cohen got both came from the Tampa 14-yard line, but well into the fourth quarter of a game that had long been decided. Cohen could play a bigger role in this area if Jordan Howard remains dinged up, but Cohen’s minuscule size makes him unlikely to see many looks inside the 10-yard line.

Dez Bryant scored a 3-yard touchdown against Aqib Talib but was held to 56 yards on his other six catches in a loss to Denver. For Week 3, Bryant will have another tough task against Patrick Peterson.

About Jody Smith

2012 Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert at FantasyPros and FSTA award. 27-year fantasy football veteran. Covers the Houston Texans. Member of the PFWA (Pro Football Writer's of America) and FSWA. Podcast host. NFL projections guy.