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Hangin' in the Red Zone

by: John Holler


Editor's Note: Below you will find Red Zone statistics for QBs and Fantasy Analysis of those Statistics.  If you'd like to read the sections covering RBs, WRs, and TEs, please click HERE to order our 2013 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

Of all the fantasy stats that make a player somebody that owners want to have on their roster is how they perform in the red zone. There are certain players who consistently excel in close and others who become invisible. When it comes to quarterbacks, the difference between a guy like Drew Brees and Mark Sanchez is most evident in the red zone – where Brees is a stone-cold killer and Sanchez is a warm turd.

  There are a lot of factors that go into making star fantasy players. Many of them are obvious. Red zone production isn’t something that gets promoted or widely circulated. It is part of the game within the game and those who excel in the Red Zone are typically those who get paid the 10-figure contracts.

  What follows is a breakdown of the primary fantasy players and their effectiveness in the red zone. The numbers are pretty self-explanatory, but we provide an analysis at the key fantasy positions – both for what players did in 2012 and what they’ve done over the last three seasons.

  For the purposes of analysis, a definition of the red zone needs to be provided. For quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends and running backs in the receiving game, the red zone is as its name is commonly known – inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. When a quarterback drops to pass inside the 20-yard line, there can be a realistic expectation that the pass could end up being a touchdown. When it comes to running the ball, it’s a different story. Even Adrian Peterson isn’t expected to score when he gets a handoff at the 15-yard line. When it comes to running backs and quarterbacks getting the ball, our definition of the red zone is the 5-yard line. When an RB gets a handoff of a QB takes off out of the pocket from the 5-yard line in, there is the realistic assumption that the plan on that play is to get points. So, as you look at the red zone numbers keep in mind that when it comes to passing/receiving, the red zone is the 20-yard line. When it comes to rushing, it’s the 5-yard line.

  A final reminder: just as important as the players who are on the list as those who aren’t. Some players (guys like DeSean Jackson) have proved to be almost meaningless in the red zone. It doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be considered for being drafted, but it also tells you that, if he’s going to score touchdowns, they will almost have to be long distance scores, because he isn’t targeted or isn’t effective when the defenses are packed in the red zone.




2012 PASSING (Minimum 30 attempts)


Drew Brees 102-66-520-34-0

Matt Ryan 92-59-379-25-2

Peyton Manning 88-52-388-28-2

Matthew Stafford 87-41-309-15-4

Tom Brady 87-52-398-24-1

Eli Manning 84-38-281-18-1

Tony Romo 75-36-272-14-2

Christian Ponder 75-44-284-18-3

Aaron Rodgers 75-47-350-26-0

Andy Dalton 74-42-296-20-0

Andrew Luck 73-37-15-2

Josh Freeman 72-40-330-21-2

Carson Palmer 70-38-233-14-1

Ben Roethlisberger 66-36-202-18-0

Philip Rivers 65-43-304-18-2

Sam Bradford 64-36-247-13-3

Ryan Fitzpatrick 60-34-270-16-3

Russell Wilson 59-35-261-18-0

Cam Newton 59-22-188-8-2

Joe Flacco 55-26-247-13-3

Matt Schaub 53-28-174-14-2

Brandon Weeden 53-25-226-6-2

Mark Sanchez 48-189-157-10-4

Ryan Tannehill 47-24-184-8-1

Jay Cutler 47-25-189-11-0

Michael Vick 46-21-157-9-2

Robert Griffin III 39-24-111-10-0

Chad Henne 38-19-127-7-2

Colin Kaepernick 32-15-97-5-1

Jake Locker 31-12-90-5-0



  • Nobody is even close to Brees in red zone effectiveness and scoring.
  • Matty Ice is becoming a much better RZ passer.
  • Stafford was his own worst enemy last year.
  • Ponder threw as many RZ passes as Rodgers.
  • Dalton is quietly turning into an elite red zone passer.
  • More than half of Freeman’s RZ completions went for touchdowns.
  • Rivers was effective in the red zone, but didn’t get the opportunities.
  • Wilson was incredibly effective in the red zone.
  • Newton is awful in the red zone.
  • Flacco needs to improve in the red zone.
  • Sanchez is always bad, but at his worst near the goal line.
  • RG3 wasn’t allowed to throw the ball much in close.
  • Kaepernick was little more than a dump-off caretaker inside the 20.


LAST THREE YEARS PASSING (Minimum 100 attempts)


Drew Brees 311-196-1,364-86-7

Tom Brady 271-164-1,217-80-4

Matt Ryan 269-154-1,048-66-4

Aaron Rodgers 239-153-1,060-75-2

Eli Manning 232-118-839-50-9

Philip Rivers 210-117-846-50-6

Matthew Stafford 209-1030789-50-7

Ryan Fitzpatrick 205-112-837-52-8

Josh Freeman 205-120-919-52-6

Mark Sanchez 199-97-718-39-8

Ben Roethlisberger 188-97-661-42-5

Michael Vick 183-96-580-35-7

Sam Bradford 182-86-578-29-8

Carson Palmer 175-93-595-39-7

Peyton Manning 174-101-737-54-2

Matt Schaub 172-93-639-41-4

Joe Flacco 171-76-662-38-4

Tony Romo 170-97-673-41-2

Jay Cutler 151-76-596-35-3

Matt Hasselbeck 141-78-556-27-2

Andy Dalton 141-78-564-35-0

Alex Smith 124-70-440-25-2

Cam Newton 123-50-393-21-5

Kyle Orton 109-50-337-20-1

Chad Henne 109-54-395-21-4

Christian Ponder 103-65-436-26-4

Matt Cassel 103-54-377-28-1



  • Brees and Brady are head shoulders the best in the red zone.
  • Eli Manning blows too many scoring opportunities.
  • Sanchez sucks.
  • Roethlisberger doesn’t get as much RZ production as he should.
  • Bradford has a lot of work to do.
  • If Peyton Manning completes a RZ pass, it’s just as often a touchdown as not.
  • Flacco still needs to get better finishing off drives with his arm.
  • Cutler is surprisingly ineffective in throwing RZ touchdowns.
  • Dalton has never thrown a red zone interception.
  • Newton is brutal in the red zone.




As mentioned atop this release, if you like to read the entire article, please click HERE to order our 2013 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

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