After each week of the NFL season, we are going to take a look at the numbers from the prior week, and examine the red zone usage for players and teams! Red zone usage is vital to fantasy success, and oftentimes is a great indicator of future touchdown production. Is Houston Texans rookie QB C.J. Stroud a QB1 rest of season? What do we do with Saquon Barkley in New York? Regardless of whether it’s for your NFL DFS lineups or your seasonal teams, there’s key information for you in this article. From red zone passing, to rushing, to receiving, we’ll take a look at some notable numbers from the first nine weeks of the 2023 NFL season that can help your fantasy football teams. Using the red zone report here at Fantasy Alarm, here are the key numbers and notes to know for fantasy football in this week’s red zone report.
Red Zone Passing
Stroud is exceptional, I won’t bury the lead. He has a 9:0 TD/INT ratio in the red zone, and while he does have noticeable home/road splits, he’s going to be a back-end QB1 moving forward, and at worst a high-end QB2. Last week against the Bucs, he completed five of seven passes with three touchdowns in the red zone, and over the last three weeks, he’s 9-for-14 with five passing scores and one rushing score!
In his first start with the team, Heinicke had one red zone pass attempt, while Tyler Allgeier handled four red zone carries. To be frank, I’m sick of this Atlanta Falcons offense and Arthur Smith, but we are stuck with it. Heinicke can move a little bit, so those in 2QB leagues will hope that Smith utilizes Heinicke’s legs in the red zone to help boost his fantasy output. I don’t expect a ton of passing volume for Heinicke, making him a mid-to-low QB2 option at best.
Red Zone Rushing
I hate to be a negative nancy, and I also can’t believe I’m saying this, but the injury to Daniel Jones is going to wreak havoc on the New York offense. No, he wasn’t a transcendent talent by any means, nor was he leading a juggernaut offense, but now this offense is in shambles, and Barkley is a one man show. He’s been inefficient in the red zone this year, and now I worry that his volume will be reduced moving forward, mainly because I don’t envision the Giants spending a lot of time in the opposition’s territory. Barkley has just one red zone touchdown on 20 carries this season, resulting in a measly 33 yards. Fingers crossed for long runs and a lot of work in the passing attack!
Wheels up for Rachaad White! He’s the clear-cut lead back in Tampa Bay, and in the red zone, he’s the primary guy. He’s handled 77.8 percent of the team’s total red zone carries, not to mention 71.4 percent within the five-yard line (3 TDs on 5 carries). He has a couple of tough matchups ahead, but his work in the passing game should keep him firmly entrenched in the RB2 tier. He has a very favorable schedule for the stretch run, which fantasy managers should enjoy come playoff time.
Red Zone Receiving
After not being targeted in the red zone at all through the first five games of the season, he’s quickly become a focal point for the Browns. The Cleveland tight end has at least two red zone targets in three straight games, and overall, he’s averaging nearly eight targets per game over the last three weeks! The usage is there for Njoku, and he should be able to produce top-12 numbers at the position moving forward, especially if his opportunities in the red zone continue to be stable.
Metcalf has been a target hog in the red zone of late, totaling 10 red zone targets over the last four weeks. However, the problem is that he’s caught just two of them, and he’s caught just five of 13 red zone targets in 2023. Geno Smith’s drop in production this year has affected Metcalf, and he’s currently pacing for his lowest reception percentage (56%) of his entire career. The volume is there for Metcalf, so the hope is that the efficiency will follow suit, but we’ll have to see if it actually happens. I’m willing to bet that it will, especially with some favorable matchups in the near future.