NFL Red Zone Report: Week 3
Published: Oct 02, 2021
Red Zone Passing
Justin Herbert, LAC - Herbert, for the second time this year, posted double-digit red zone attempts as the Chargers took down their division rivals in Kansas City. Herbert used those 10 attempts to post four passing touchdowns and five attempts inside the 10 while spreading the ball mainly to Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, who saw four targets each. The Chargers were expected to be a potent offense coming into the year so it shouldn’t necessarily be a shock to see this production, but those that had faith in Herbert repeating his rookie campaign should have solace in the fact that the more red zone passing attempts means the more touchdowns for him as a vast majority of passing scores come from inside the 20.
Kirk Cousins, MIN - Cousins is the guy everyone likes to make fun of and put down but still draft all of the weapons he has at his disposal. If we’re drafting his weapons then it shouldn’t be a shock to see him on the red zone report for a ton of attempts inside the 20. Of the 10 attempts inside the 20, eight were inside the 15 but just three were inside the 10 which was the same amount as went for touchdowns. While it certainly played a role that Cook was out, Alexander Mattison still had five carries in the red zone so this shouldn’t be a flash in the pan showing for Cousins.
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF - What’s that about Trey Lance taking Jimmy G’s spot? It was a loss to Green Bay, however Garoppolo played very well and had eight passing attempts inside the 20. That tripled his season total from four to 12 and added two touchdowns to his ledger too. Five of the passes came inside the 10 which may or may not be an indication of the state of their running game rather than what they’ll do on a weekly basis.
Red Zone Rushing
Peyton Barber, LV - When is the last time Barber had six red zone carries in a game? Seriously, it’s been a while. The six red zone carries this week was tied for most in the league with Aaron Jones and one of those carries went for a score. Now he’s getting the uptick in work because Josh Jacobs is still nursing injuries but as long as he’s getting the work he’s worth some DFS attention for the touchdown upside.
Javonte Williams, DEN - While it’s been a split backfield for the Broncos, and the same can be said in the red zone, Williams got the bulk of the carries close to the goal line. Melvin Gordon did get more carries in general in the red zone, by two, but all of Williams' work came within five yards of the end zone, increasing the shot for a rushing score for him. There is no reason to believe that Denver stops splitting carries, but it’s a good sign that Williams is getting the shorter yardage work.
Zack Moss, BUF - Another split backfield is happening in Buffalo with Devin Singletary and Moss but so far, Moss is getting more run in the red zone even with having missed the first game. Not only has he seen more red zone carries each week, but the five carries this week resulted in a touchdown plus he caught a pass for a score too. While Singletary is the flashy runner between the 20s and somewhat inside the red zone, Moss is the bigger-bodied back and better in the short yardage.
Red Zone Receiving
Brandon Aiyuk, SF - Aiyuk finally appears to be getting out of the doghouse in San Fran as he saw a healthy snap count and now also saw work inside the 20. The three passes that went his way inside the 20 were the first such of the year for him and the one that he caught was good for a score. Aiyuk is anticipated to continue to have an increasing role in the Niners offense and that will include red zone looks too.
Courtland Sutton, DEN - Sutton has been the top target for the Broncos since Jerry Jeudy went down but until Week 3, he’d not see any targets inside the red zone. Sutton saw three balls come his way and he caught all three but didn’t get in the endzone, at least from inside the 20. There’s no doubt that he remains the top target for the Broncos passing game, it’s just a matter of how many scores that will lead to for him.
Zach Pascal, IND - Pascal has been a guy who’s name has come up throughout this year as a guy who’s another option outside for Michael Pittman. Pascal is second on the team in targets overall and in Week 3, half of his targets came inside the red zone with four balls thrown his way. He didn’t catch any of the four passes, but the fact that he saw 80-percent target share inside the 20 is impressive.
Tyler Conklin, MIN - Conklin saw his first targets inside the 20 on the season in Week 3 and he caught all three including one for a score. He remains the top tight end target on the Vikings with Irv Smith out of the picture and in fact saw eight targets on the day and while Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson do see their share of targets in the red zone, Conklin should have his game too.
Red Zone Defense
Denver Broncos - Denver is tied for the fewest trips allowed to the red zone so far through three games with just three total trips allowed. Even better is that they’ve only allowed one score inside the 20 all year. WE’ve known for a few years that the Broncos possess the talent to be a top flight defense and perhaps they’re finally showing it this year, though granted it has been against weak competition offensively to start the year. If they can keep teams from scoring though, their fantasy value is even higher.
Carolina Panthers - It might not be shocking to see the Panthers being talked about in the red zone report given that they’re ranked first across the board in DVOA but there’s still a difference between that and red zone defense. The interesting part of this though is that, while they’ve kept opposing offenses out of the red zone as well as the Broncos, they haven’t actually stopped teams from scoring. The Panthers have given up three touchdowns inside the 20 in three games but that’s still a 100-percent red zone scoring percentage allowed.
Las Vegas Raiders - The Raiders are the only other team allowing less than two trips per game into their red zone so far and for them that’s impressive given they’ve played the Ravens, Steelers, and Dolphins. Like the Panthers though, they’ve not been good at keeping teams out of the end zone though as all of the trips have resulted in a touchdown for their opponent. It’s good to keep teams out of the red zone, but not great to let them score anyway.