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 2017 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

It’s amazing how little attention the NFL Red Zone gets paid in an era of fantasy football statistical paralysis by over-analysis. When you try to figure out why some numbers seem out of whack when it relates to touchdowns and touches for players, the NFL Red Zone is where it all comes to the bubbling of reality.

When touchdowns are on the line, every player wants the ball – whether it’s running it or passing it. When you get in the NFL Red Zone, touchdowns are expected.

For the purpose of our fantasy football analysis, an explanation of the Red Zone is needed. When it comes to passing/receiving, the Red Zone holds its typical meaning – from the opponent’s 20-yard line and in. Any pass called inside the 20 can legitimately be expected to score a touchdown. That’s how they’re all drawn up.

However, a running play from the 18-yard line can’t realistically be expected to go for a touchdown – or a run from the 11-yard or even the 8-yard line. But, a run from the 5-yard line and in is designed to pop for a score. That’s how they’re all drawn up. As such, the Red Zone, as it applies to the numbers posted by running backs and quarterbacks, any RZ run is from the 5-yard line and in – where touchdowns are realistically expected.

Here are the breakdowns for both last season and the cumulative totals over the last three seasons. For those players who are still part of the same band that has built those numbers, take notes and give green flags (the opposite of red flags) to those players in your own fantasy football draft rankings. When it comes to the Red Zone, the guys who score the points when they’re expected are often the most important players in an offense and their contributions can’t be ignored.





2016 (Minimum 40 attempts)



Drew Brees 114-79-447-28-3

Aaron Rodgers 114-73-463-33-0

Philip Rivers 104-50-367-23-2

Matt Ryan 94-61-372-22-1

Derek Carr 93-46-319-19-1

Carson Wentz 90-45-272-13-1

Kirk Cousins 87-40-270-14-2

Matthew Stafford 87-53-321-17-3

Carson Palmer 84-43-331-19-3

Sam Bradford 78-53-345-15-1

Russell Wilson 77-34-272-15-1

Joe Flacco 74-46-299-14-3

Andy Dalton 73-38-273-13-1

Blake Bortles 72-42-285-19-2

Alex Smith 60-34-201-11-3

Jameis Winston 69-35-270-19-1

Andrew Luck 68-45-270-20-0

Eli Manning 66-37-272-17-2

Ryan Fitzpatrick 64-30-189-10-6

Trevor Siemian 64-35-221-10-2

Tom Brady 64-45-309-20-1

Brock Osweiler 64-31-207-10-1

Ben Roethlisberger 62-34-244-16-2

Cam Newton 60-23-202-11-3

Marcus Mariota 59-36-285-19-0

Dak Prescott 56-33-282-16-1

Tyrod Taylor 53-32-256-11-0

Ryan Tannehill 46-31-231-11-0

Case Keenum 41-19-132-6-1



  • Defenses need to fear Rodgers in the Red Zone.
  • Rivers throws a surprisingly high number of RZ passes.
  • Wentz threw a lot of passes, but not a lot of touchdowns.
  • Cousins loses much of his accuracy in the red zone.
  • Bradford completed a lot of passes in the red zone.
  • Wilson throws a ton of RZ incompletions.
  • Bortles remained a top fantasy RZ quarterback.
  • More than half on Winston’s RZ completions were touchdowns.
  • Luck is the man regardless of how many passes he throws.
  • Fitzpatrick played himself out of a job.
  • Brady doesn’t need volume to get RZ production.
  • Mariota was accurate and effective in the red zone.
  • Tannehill needs to throw RZ passes to be effective.


LAST THREE YEARS (minimum 100 attempts)


PLAYER Att-Com-Yd-TD-Int

Aaron Rodgers 313-117-1,078-77-5

Drew Brees 278-186-1,145-73-8

Eli Manning 260-139-942-62-11

Philip Rivers 253-138-990-67-7

Matthew Stafford 244-149-984-60-6

Matt Ryan 236-148-929-58-6

Tom Brady 230-144-1,014-73-6

Ben Roethlisberger 226-127-854-51-5

Ryan Tannehill 215-123-849-50-6

Joe Flacco 211-118-835-43-7

Blake Bortles 207-108-750-52-6

Derek Carr 201-104-721-54-4

Carson Palmer 198-105-825-51-6

Alex Smith 197-112-757-42-4

Kirk Cousins 196-106-738-43-2

Russell Wilson 195-97-821-47-4

Andrew Luck 191-118-664-54-2

Andy Dalton 189-100-798-44-5

Ryan Fitzpatrick 180-95-676-45-8

Cam Newton 174-87-721-46-3

Jay Cutler 168-84-619-37-5

Jameis Winston 149-70-575-36-2

Peyton Manning 143-91-582-31-3

Sam Bradford 130-80-529-25-4

Brian Hoyer 121-62-413-27-2

Colin Kaepernick 116-61-444-27-0

Marcus Mariota 104-65-527-35-0

Brock Osweiler 103-52-362-18-2



  • Rodgers and Brees are the most prolific RZ quarterbacks.
  • Eli throws too many interceptions, leaving points on the board.
  • Rivers has quietly put up a lot of red zone touchdowns.
  • Brady is deadly in the red zone despite throwing fewer passes.
  • Flacco doesn’t throw nearly as many RZTDs as he should.
  • Carr is becoming a consistent red zone threat.
  • Smith is as quiet in the red zone as he is in
  • Luck is a red zone serial killer.
  • Even players just 1½ years, Peyton was still the man.
  • Mariota has never thrown a red zone interception and showed well.





2016 (minimum 2 attempts)


Cam Newton 8-21-5

Tyrod Taylor 8-(-6)-1

Tom Brady 7-(-3)-0

Andy Dalton 4-6-4

Dak Prescott 4-7-3

Eli Manning 4-(-4)-0

Alex Smith 3-7-2

Carson Wentz 3-5-2

Blake Bortles 3-1-2

Kirk Cousins 3-(-1)-2

Ryan Tannehill 3-0-1

Drew Brees 2-2-2

Blaine Gabbert 2-2-2

Brock Osweiler 2-2-2

Russell Wilson 2-3-1

Ben Roethlisberger 2-2-1

Joe Flacco 2-1-1

Matthew Stafford 2-1-1

Scott Tolzien 2-1-0

Aaron Rodgers 2-(-3)-0


LAST THREE YEARS (minimum 4 attempts)


Cam Newton 24-56-16

Tom Brady 13-4-3

Andy Dalton 11-16-9

Joe Flacco 11-4-6

Tyrod Taylor 9-(-5)-1

Jameis Winston 7-20-5

Matthew Stafford 7-10-4

Kirk Cousins 6-5-5

Blake Bortles 6-4-4

Russell Wilson 6-8-3

Drew Brees 5-5-4

Ryan Tannehill 5-2-3

Ryan Fitzpatrick 5-9-2

Aaron Rodgers 5-(-1)-1

Eli Manning 5-(-3)-1

Alex Smith 4-10-3

Dak Prescott 4-7-3

B. Roethlisberger 4-0-1

Geno Smith 4-(-1)-1



  • QBs don’t run the ball inside the 5-yard line like they used to.
  • Nobody touches Newton in the red zone.
  • Dalton is surprisingly strong in close and it adds to his value.
  • Taylor is a running QB, but useless inside the 5-yard line.
  • Flacco scores well in close.
  • Winston is becoming a big RZ running threat.
  • When Cousins and Brees run, they typically scores.
  • Rodgers is overrated as a runner from very close in.
  • Manning is almost no threat in close.






As mentioned atop this release, if you like to read the entire Draft Plan, please click HERE to order our 2017 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

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