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? Is Dalton Schultz a TE1 moving forward? Is Sam Howell a prime sell-high candidate? 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 six 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
We’ll talk about another Seahawk below, but the report on him is far more encouraging compared to Smith. In the red zone this year, Smith is just 12-for-29 through the air, and only Bryce Young and Matthew Stafford have a lower completion percentage than Smith in the red zone amongst quarterbacks with at least 20 red zone pass attempts.
Interestingly enough, Smith has been less effective in the red zone of late compared to the beginning of the year. Through the first two games of the season, he was 7-for-11 in the red zone, but he’s just 5-for-18 over the last three games, including a disappointing 2-for-9 showing against Cincy. All of this comes off the heels of posting a 52.9 percent completion percentage last season, so at this point, we should be fortunate that Smith gets volume in this area of the field, because he hasn’t been the most efficient guy inside the twenties.
Depending on your league’s scoring settings, Howell is either a QB1 or is flirting with that line of being a back-end QB1 or high-end QB2. What a year it’s been for the young gunslinger! His 9:6 TD/INT ratio may not look great, but that game against Buffalo really inflates the interception total. Over his last three games, which have come against Philadelphia, Chicago, and Atlanta, he has a 6:1 TD/INT ratio. The big thing here is looking at how Washington has operated in the red zone:
Team Rush Attempts
Howell Pass Attempts
|Inside the 20
|Inside the 10
Washington is throwing the ball twice as often inside the 10-yard line as they are running it! While Howell may only be 8-for-18 inside the 10-yard line, the volume is there for him, and he’s sporting a perfect 7:0 TD/INT inside the 10-yard line.
Red Zone Rushing
After a red zone hiatus for Murray, he garnered four red zone carries last week against the Giants, including three inside the 10-yard line! His 12 carries in that game, as well as his 49 percent snap share both season-highs for the veteran back, and James Cook has now appeared in under 50 percent of the offensive snaps in two of the last three weeks. I’m not acquiring Murray at all costs, but he could become the primary red zone back for the Bills moving forward, which makes him a fine RB option in deeper formats. Don’t overreact to this, and in shallower leagues, you may not even need to look at a guy like Murray.
I know I wrote about Walker a few weeks ago, but I’m back, because it’s only getting better. Walker and Joe Mixon are the only running backs in the NFL who have at least 80 percent of their team’s rushing attempts inside the 20, inside the 10, and inside the five. He’s averaging five red zone carries per game, and half of his carries inside the five-yard line have resulted in touchdowns. No player in the NFL has more carries inside the five-yard line than Walker. That is massive for his fantasy value! Zach Charbonnet has five red zone carries, all of which came within the first three games of the season. This is Walker’s backfield, and the workload is so secure that he’s an RB1 each and every week. You probably aren’t buying low on him, but he’s an RB worth acquiring.
Red Zone Receiving
Schultz has played like an elite tight end over the last three weeks. During this three-game run, he’s averaging 4.7 receptions on 6.7 targets for 56 yards and one touchdown per game! He leads the Texans in red zone targets, and he has at least one red zone target in every game this season! He’s finally getting utilized as we expected him to, and a healthy offensive line for the Texans is allowing Schultz to get downfield more. The rapport between him and C.J. Stroud is growing, and the team clearly prioritizes Schultz in the end zone. He’s a TE1 the rest of the way, ladies and gentlemen.
Kmet is tied for the most targets amongst tight ends in the red zone over the last three weeks, and he’s scored three touchdowns during this nice three-game run. His performance against Minnesota left a lot to be desired, and there may be more questions than answers with Tyson Bagent under center, but if we take a walk down narrative street, we know that tight ends are the safety valve, or the security blanket for a young quarterback. Temper expectations for now, but once Fields gets back into the mix, Kmet should be, at the very least, a reliable red zone weapon for the Bears.