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Red Zone Usage Risers and Fallers - Week 10


We are now past the mid-point of the season, meaning it is time to get your roster in shape for a playoff push and championship run. As fantasy owners, we know that not all touches are equal. A touch in the red zone has an increased chance of scoring a touchdown, so those touches are important to target.

To identify the players to target in trades, RotoBaller's Premium Red Zone Sleepers tool can give you a sense of who is being utilized more in the all-important area of the field to provide more scoring potential. A preview of the tool and the top players in red-zone touches is shown below.

Just like targets are the lifeblood of a receiver's value in PPR leagues, red-zone touches are the most relevant factor to consider for standard leagues. Each week, I will identify some risers and fallers based on their red-zone touches, and what that means for your team.

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Red Zone Risers

RUNNING BACKS

Jordan Howard (RB, PHI) - 28.6% Red-zone touch%

Howard moved over to the Philadelphia Eagles in the offseason, having struggled in essentially the same offense for the Chicago Bears. In the committee backfield the Eagles operate, Howard has been established as the goal-line running back. That role is valuable and is unlikely to change with the injury struggles that rookie Miles Sanders has suffered.

Howard leads the team in touches and red-zone touchdowns so far this season, having been given 24 touches and scoring seven touchdowns. The Eagles run the ball on the majority of their plays, rushing the ball 53.6% of the time. As the lead goal-line option, on a good offense, Howard should continue to have touchdown upside this season.

James White (RB, NE) - 17.5% Red-zone touch%

White has been one of the New England Patriots' favored options in the offense for the past few seasons, due to his ability catching passes out of the backfield.

That variety of usage has made White second on the team in red-zone touches with 21, trailing only Sony Michel. The struggle for White has been his inability to convert those touches into touchdowns, scoring only two this season.

However, he is likely due for some positive regression in the touchdown department for the remainder of the season. If you are able to buy low on White before your trade deadline then I would start sending offers out to acquire him.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Jamison Crowder (WR, NYJ) - 20.0% Red-zone touch%

Crowder has become a gem of fantasy value this season, especially considering where he was drafted in most leagues. The New York Jets offense is not one of the more effective in the league, with Adam Gase struggling to utilize the same offense he put in place in Miami. But that has probably only helped Crowder's fantasy value.

Currently, the Jets are ranked at the bottom of the league in plays run in the red-zone, but they have a heavy tendency to pass the ball once there, throwing on 74.3% of their plays near the goal-line. With the workload that Crowder has been given in recent weeks -- four touches and a touchdown scored from nine potential opportunities -- it would be worth keeping tabs on Crowder as a potential trade target. Considering his heavy usage in the middle of the field, he's a definite buy in PPR leagues.

Jarvis Landry (WR, CLE) - 14.9% Red-zone touch%

I wrote about Landry as someone that would benefit from the struggles that the Cleveland Browns offensive line has had this season. And even though Odell Beckham Jr has struggled this season, his overall talent still makes him a receiver opposing defenses have to focus on.

The ability to operate as the second receiving threat has allowed Landry a significant workload in the red-zone with 11 touches so far this season, behind only Nick Chubb. That usage doesn't look to be going away any time soon, as Landry saw four touches last week from 16 total plays run near the goal-line.

 

TIGHT END

Vance McDonald (TE, PIT) - 11.7% Red-zone touch%

The Pittsburgh Steelers season was de-railed with a number of injuries, affecting the team's ability to move the ball down the field. The Steelers had to turn to their backup quarterback Mason Rudolph starting in Week 2 and were even forced to play Devlin Hodges at times.

That kind of change at quarterback normally leads to the playbook getting dialed back, with fewer shots being taken downfield. That has made McDonald more valuable as a red-zone option as of late. The tight end has had seven red-zone touches this season, with four of those coming last week. At a position that is touchdown-dependent, fantasy owners could look at the Steelers' tight end as an option to rely on.

 

Red Zone Fallers

RUNNING BACK

Sony Michel (RB, NE) - 26.7% Red-zone touch%

Michel currently leads the New England Patriots in red-zone touches, who have run a league-high 120 plays near the goal-line this season. However, even having scored six touchdowns this season, the running back finds himself in the fallers this week.

The Patriots only utilize Michel on rushing plays, making his appearance on the field a dead giveaway as to what the offense is planning in the backfield. With Bill Belichick's maddening ability to utilize his offensive weapons in a multitude of ways, being one-dimensional like Michel can lead to a lack of involvement. In fact, last week the team ran 16 plays in the red-zone and Michel was unable to get a single touch. That lack of reliable opportunity means that Michel should be moved from your fantasy roster if you are able to find the right trade partner.

 

WIDE RECEIVER

Odell Beckham Jr (WR, CLE) - 6.8% Red-zone touch%

Beckham has been a disappointment this season for fantasy owners. The Browns offense has taken a step back this year, with pretty much the whole roster struggling. The disastrous offensive line and the emergence of Nick Chubb out of the backfield are two of the largest factors in Beckham's struggles. But again, Beckham's so talented that he continues to see tough coverage. So he's on a bad offense and getting blanketed in the secondary. That's not good.

The supposed star of the Browns offense has only had five touches in the red zone to this point, which is equal to Antonio Callaway and Dontrell Hilliard. On a struggling offense, Beckham find himself overlooked near the goal-line, which will continue to limit his touchdown upside.

 

TIGHT END

Darren Waller (TE, OAK) - 9.1% Red-zone touch%

Waller has been a true breakout player this season at the tight end position. The Raiders have found a new weapon for Derek Carr on shorter routes, but he has thus far been overlooked in the red zone.

The Raiders have shown a tendency to lean on their rushing game this season, with the team opting to rush on 53.2% of their red-zone plays. The ability of Josh Jacobs as a receiver out of the backfield has earned him 35 touches so far this season, representing 45% of all of the plays in the red zone.

In a position that is typically touchdown or bust Waller has found success elsewhere on the field, but if that were to dry up his struggles in the red zone could be highlighted.

 

Red Zone Sleepers

RotoBaller's Premium tools offer more detailed insight into player values and help you identify which players to target on the waiver wire and/or trade market. Start with a free one-week trial, including NFL Optimizer and DFS Premium and get an advantage on the competition!

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