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. What teams throw it a bunch in the red zone? Who is the preferred red zone running back for a team? What wide receiver is getting a ton of red zone work? Who are some buy low or sell high candidates in fantasy football based on red zone usage? 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 Weeks 1 and 2 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
The Minnesota run game has been largely nonexistent, leading to a lot of passing volume from Kirk Cousins. Inside the twenties this year, Cousins has 10 passing attempts, and the team has just five rushing attempts inside the red zone. The veteran signal caller has 20+ passing touchdowns in the red zone each of the past three seasons, and with four touchdown passes inside the twenty-yard line through the first two games this year, he seems to be on pace for a fourth. The team did acquire Cam Akers to try to help bolster the run game, but ultimately, with a poor offensive line and bad defense, this is going to be a pass-happy team. It’s very early into the season, but Cousins looks to have been underappreciated in drafts. This usage, both overall and inside the twenties is very encouraging.
Love has been great this season, especially from a fantasy perspective. He has three touchdown passes in each game this season, leading to an unsustainable 11.5 percent touchdown rate thus far. I mean, he has six touchdown passes on 29 completions and 52 attempts! In the red zone, he’s 5-for-8 with a 4:0 TD/INT ratio, and while the team has a near 50/50 split between the run and pass in the red zone, Love is making every opportunity count. This sort of touchdown pace isn’t sustainable, but Love is making it count, especially when throwing the ball inside the 10-yard line, as he’s 4-for-5 with four touchdowns and a league high 31 yards passing.
Red Zone Rushing
The Dallas offense has been scoring at will this year, and any speculation that Pollard wouldn’t be the guy inside the 20 can be tossed out the window. He’s far and away the leader in red zone carries this year, registering six more carries than the next closest player (Kyren Williams)! He’s found the end zone a couple of times from within the five-yard line, and he’s handled two-thirds of the team’s red zone carries, and 75 percent of the carries within the 10-yard line. If it hasn’t happened already, it could be time to start talking about Pollard as THE RB1 this season.
We are only two weeks into the season, so at this point, overall usage is just as important as production at this juncture. With that in mind, the usage is there for Walker. He has eight red zone carries this season, while rookie Zach Charbonnet has just two carries. Walker has been able to turn those eight carries into two scores, and he even has a red zone target on the year. If Walker is going to continue to get this sort of red zone usage, his touchdown floor will be very reliable and fantasy managers will be confident in rolling him out as their RB2 every week. Given the questions surrounding Walker heading into the season, fantasy managers should be comfortable with the early returns, despite the addition of Charbonnet to the backfield.
Red Zone Receiving
Mark Andrews is going to be involved throughout the season, don’t get me wrong, but the early returns for Zay Flowers, particularly in the red zone are encouraging. Sure, he has yet to score in the red zone yet, but he has five targets and two carries through the team’s first two games! This offense has deprioritized Lamar Jackson runs, and Flowers’ ability with the ball in his hands has made him the beneficiary of many designed plays, i.e. screen passes. This sort of usage is all that fantasy managers could have dreamed of when selecting him, and while prominent size isn’t a calling card for him, his shiftiness and ability to make people miss makes him a valuable weapon inside the twenties for the Ravens.
Buy low on Dalton Schultz. It’s been a quiet start for Schultz, but he’s running a ton of routes, Houston is playing up tempo, and they should throw the ball a good bit as they tend to be trailing a lot in games. Schultz has a 28.6 percent target share in the red zone, and with time, C.J. Stroud is going to start looking his way. He is only one target behind Robert Woods for the team lead in red zone targets. Furthermore, Schultz has only been asked to pass block on 3.2 percent of pass plays, which is a great number, while lining up in the slot 44.2 percent of the time. The targets and production will come, especially in the red zone.