Hangin' in the Red Zone

by: John Holler

Editor's Note: Below you will find a portion of the 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 2019 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

With the expansion of sports analytic breakdowns, the nerds and the scientists have become part of the game. In the real world of the NFL, analytic breakdowns have been done for decades. One that FF Mastermind was out in front of the curve for years that has become a stat that most fantasy sites rely on – the number of targets for receivers – is now viewed as being just as valued as reception totals themselves. One area that hasn’t been fully vetted by the mainstream yet has been red zone production. Everyone has glommed on to the targets metric – you can’t catch passes if you don’t get targeted and if you don’t catch enough passes when you are targeted, those opportunities dry up in a hurry. Yet, few have jumped on the red zone bandwagon. The simple reality is that most touchdowns aren’t of the 50-yard variety, they’re scored by guys making plays in the red zone.

For our purposes, there are two red zones – one for passing and one for rushing. When it comes to passing, the traditional red zone of the opponent 20-yard line is in play. Any time a quarterback drops to pass inside the 20-yard line, there is a realistic expectation of scoring a touchdown on that pass. Every one of those play calls includes at least one receiver running a route into the end zone. When it comes to rushing, there is a different standard. A handoff from the 18-yard line can’t realistically be expected to pop for a touchdown. As such, when it comes to rushing, we move the red zone number down to the 5-yard line. Any carry from the 5-yard line or closer is expected to go for a touchdown because that is why run plays are called at that position on the field.

Here is a breakdown of the players who had the most red zone opportunities in 2018 as well as over the last three years and what those numbers realistically tell us about those players – who are the kings of the red zone and who aren’t the guys you can count on in the red zone when the big fantasy points come in chunks.

 

QUARTERBACKS

 

Passing 2018 (minimum 30 pass attempts)

 

PLAYER AT-CM-YD-TD-INT

Patrick Mahomes 103-66-488-35-1

Jared Goff 101-59-421-23-2

Andrew Luck 100-67-470-33-1

Ben Roethlisberger 93-52-340-21-4

Drew Brees 91-65-380-22-0

Tom Brady 87-49-376-18-1

Eli Manning 86-41-270-19-2

Deshaun Watson 79-43-389-23-1

Matt Ryan 77-48-389-23-1

Aaron Rodgers 74-32-265-17-1

Kirk Cousins 72-48-302-20-0

Matthew Stafford 72-35-234-14-3

Philip Rivers 71-43-287-22-2

Case Keenum 70-36-242-11-4

Dak Prescott 70-36-224-12-2

Mitchell Trubisky 64-41-267-18-1

Derek Carr 64-40-235-15-2

Russell Wilson 63-36-291-24-2

Carson Wentz 58-34-240-18-1

Baker Mayfield 57-38-264-20-0

Cam Newton 57-39-269-19-2

Marcus Mariota 51-28-160-8-1

Jameis Winston 50-30-281-15-2

 

WHAT THE NUMBERS TELL US

  • Mahomes owned 2018 for a reason and this was it.
  • With Todd Gurley, who knew Goff was going to throw that much.
  • Luck was the bomb and earned his spot as an elite fantasy QB.
  • Brees is a completion machine, which is always good for TD production.
  • Rodgers was very lame in the red zone last year.
  • RZ interceptions ran Keenum out of Denver.
  • Wilson’s TD-to-attempt percentage was shockingly good and led the league.
  • Mayfield was very efficient in the RZ, which is rare for a rookie.
  • Mariota will never be great until he learns to be a stronger RZ passer.

 

Passing Last Three Seasons (minimum 150 pass attempts)

 

PLAYER AT-CM-YD-TD-INT

Drew Brees 286-200-1135-67-4

Matt Ryan 246-145-1032-60-4

Ben Roethlisberger 245-133-891-58-7

Philip Rivers 245-129-895-60-5

Tom Brady 240-149-1047-64-2

Matthew Stafford 237-127-787-47-6

Kirk Cousins 227-124-840-51-5

Aaron Rodgers 224-128-875-62-1

Russell Wilson 211-109-841-61-5

Carson Wentz 207-117-809-55-2

Derek Carr 204-110-681-46-4

Eli Manning 200-106-751-50-4

Jared Goff 197-111-802-50-3

Joe Flacco 195-109-623-37-4

Dak Prescott 187-102-747-44-6

Cam Newton 179-92-682-43-6

Andy Dalton 178-99-701-47-3

Blake Bortles 173-92-661-44-4

Alex Smith 172-85-538-31-4

Andrew Luck 168-112-740-53-1

Jameis Winston 163-87-754-46-3

Case Keenum 163-88-607-34-5

Marcus Mariota 159-88-631-33-1

 

WHAT THE NUMBERS TELL US

  • Nobody is more adept at RZ throwing than Brees.
  • Ryan is a red zone machine.
  • Nobody has thrown RZ interceptions than Roethlisberger.
  • Old guys like Brady, Rivers and Roethlisberger throw more RZTDs than most.
  • Stafford comes away with far too few RZTDs for his volume of passes.
  • Was 2018 an anomaly for Rodgers or a trend of things to come.
  • Despite missing time, Wentz has become a red zone weapon like few others
  • Newton doesn’t throw enough RZTDs and his rushing numbers are going down.
  • Luck protects the ball as well as anyone in the red zone.

 

Rushing 2018 (Minimum 2 attempts)

 

As mentioned atop this release, if you like to read the entire Red Zone feature, please click HERE to order our 2019 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

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