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Red Zone Risers/Fallers - Tevin Coleman, Julian Edelman, Derrick Henry


We are now past the mid-point of the season, meaning it is time to look at getting your roster in shape for your playoff push and beyond to the championship weeks. 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.

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.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

Red Zone Risers

RUNNING BACKS

Tevin Coleman (RB, SF) - 26.3% Red-zone touch%

Honestly, I had to mention Coleman this week, given the strength of the performance he had last week. Three red-zone touchdowns off of five touches is a fantastic return. While I wouldn't expect that return to be repeated this season, Coleman has now established himself as the team's goal-line back. That role is extremely valuable in this committee backfield.

The San Fransisco 49ers lead the league in rushing attempts and, crucially for Coleman's value, that doesn't change in the red zone. The 49ers rush the ball on 62.5% of all plays they run in the red zone and given the dual-threat skill set that Coleman possesses, it's unlikely that he will see a dropoff in touches in this area of the field.

 

Latavius Murray (RB, NO) - 25.6% Red-zone touch%

I was unsure about including Murray in the article, only because the offense hasn't been what we would typically expect in New Orleans. Quarterback Drew Brees missed several weeks with his hand injury before Alvin Kamara also found himself on the sidelines. However, the amount of red-zone work that Murray has shouldered shouldn't be overlooked.

Murray has been given the ball on 18 of the last 32 plays in the red zone for the team, scoring four touchdowns. He now leads the team in red-zone touches with 22. While his heavy utilization is unlikely to be the same on the other side of the bye week, with the return of Kamara in particular, he should still have a role in the offense. The Saints have demonstrated in previous seasons that there are enough touches to support a tandem of options out of the backfield, and the team should continue to provide plenty of opportunities in the red zone. If you can find an owner who is ready to discount Murray with the imminent return of Kamara, then get a trade sorted sooner rather than later, especially if you are a Kamara owner.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Julian Edelman (WR, NE) - 12.5% Red-zone touch%

The New England Patriots just seem to do it year after year, with Edelman one of the favorite targets for quarterback Tom Brady. The defense this season has been mighty impressive, giving their offense more time on the field. That has translated into the team running more plays than any other team in the red zone, with 104 plays run so far this season.

The offensive play-calling in the red zone has also been perfectly balanced this season, moving away from the team's reliance on power rushing attempts in previous years. The Patriots have a multitude of weapons that can be used with Sony Michel and James White leading the way on the ground and Edelman the leading receiver. Those three players account for over half of the red-zone touches for the team. While trying to trade for Edelman might be costly, it might pay dividends by the end of the season given his usage elsewhere on the field, too.

 

D.K. Metcalf (WR, SEA) - 12.5% Red-zone touch%

The Seattle Seahawks are a team that primarily runs the ball until they get to the red zone. Then the team flips to passing the ball, with 52.3% of their plays being pass attempts. While Chris Carson has been utilized on the ground and through the air, Metcalf leads the rest of the pack.

Metcalf offers a constant deep threat with his athletic ability and is also is the only big-bodied receiver that the team can rely on (at least until newly-signed Josh Gordon is ready to play). At the start of the season, Will Dissly filled that role but then found his way onto the injured reserve list. The Seahawks' offense has been an effective unit and currently ranks second in red-zone plays this season with 88, giving plenty of opportunities for the rookie receiver to add to his touchdown total.

 

TIGHT END

Darren Fells (TE, HOU) - 9.2% Red-zone touch%

The landscape for tight ends season after season seems to be a barren wasteland, and this year is no different. Outside of the top options at the position, the production week to week is limited to touchdown opportunities. The Houston Texans rank in the top 10 in the number of plays run in the red-zone, and they have changed their approach this season. The Texans added offensive talent this offseason, with additions to their backfield forcing the team to shift from their reliance on DeAndre Hopkins.

Darren Fells touched the ball three times last week, converting those touches into two touchdowns. The offense might not constantly look his way, but if you are looking for a bye-week fill-in, rolling the dice on the veteran could be beneficial for your roster.

 

Red Zone Fallers

RUNNING BACK

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN) - 38.5% Red-zone touch%

For the second week in a row, I've included a running back who has had over 30% of his team's touches in the red zone. The reason I wanted to highlight Henry is that the offense has changed in Tennessee. The change to quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks like it is likely to continue for the rest of the season, meaning the split of touches needs to be reexamined from the time Marcus Mariota was benched. Last week the team ran seven plays in the red zone with Dion Lewis the only running back who touched the ball. In the past two weeks, since the change at quarterback, the team has run 14 plays in the red zone and Henry has had just three of those touches.

With the Titans offense ranking towards the bottom of the league in red-zone opportunity, even a small deviation from constantly handing Henry the ball will dramatically impact his fantasy value. If you are able to find an owner who believes in his red-zone ability and get a decent value for him, try to trade him before the narrative shifts.

 

WIDE RECEIVER

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT) - 14.0% Red-zone touch%

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a number of changes to their offense in the offseason, which should have given Smith-Schuster more opportunities for the team. However, the changes during the season seem to have derailed the offense. The Steelers' quarterback play has been inconsistent, at best, after losing Ben Roethlisberger to injured reserve and with Mason Rudolph missing some time with a head injury.

That struggle has meant that the Steelers have currently run the third-fewest number of plays in the red zone, behind only the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. With the team's struggles on offense, Pittsburgh has entrusted their running backs with the ball in the red-zone, running on 53.5% of their plays so far this season. With the pass-catching ability of both James Conner and Jaylen Samuels, the opportunity for Smith-Schuster is limited in a situation that is unlikely to change for the rest of the season.

 

TIGHT END

Jimmy Graham (TE, GB) - 12.7% Red-zone touch%

The Green Bay Packers offense has finally started to get moving this season after an initial struggle to install the new offense. Aaron Rodgers has once again been entrusted with the ball in the red zone with the Packers having one of the heaviest tendencies to throw the ball.

All of that would normally mean that the tight end in the offense would be a valuable asset, particularly one that has had over 10% of the touches in the red zone. However, the Packers running back duo of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have both demonstrated their pass-catching abilities near the end zone in recent weeks. The Packers are also getting set to welcome Davante Adams back into the fold after he missed time with a toe injury. That limits the opportunity that can be afforded to Graham, who has struggled to get separation this season.

 

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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