Redzone Report Week 6


The Redzone Report takes a weekly look at redzone usage and matchups to identify top options and sleepers for touchdowns in the given week of NFL action. This is a touchdown-centric piece, and the yardage outlook for the highlighted players isn’t a consideration.

Running Backs

Week 5 Touches Leaders

If you added up the redzone touch totals for the two backs, Ezekiel Elliott and Sony Michel, tied for second with six each it would fall one short of Todd Gurley’s 13. Last week’s 13 redzone touches were a season high, but they were his second time with double-digit redzone touches this season. The hefty workload in scoring territory pushed him to the top of the leaderboard on the season with 37 (five more than Alvin Kamara’s 32). Perhaps I’m burying the lede, though, as Gurley punched in three of those redzone touches for touchdowns. Spinning back to Michel, his half-dozen redzone touches match his mark from Week 4, and even with James White getting five of his own redzone touches in Week 5, both backs can have a significant role on the club between the 20’s and in the redzone. David Johnson converted two of his five redzone touches for touchdowns, which is big because he’s become extremely touchdown dependent playing in Mike McCoy’s milquetoast offense. A couple of backfield committees warranting mentioning. Mike Davis cracked last week’s top-15 at running back in redzone touches with three, but Chris Carson also received two of his own. For Denver, there was no such split work. Phillip Lindsay received four redzone touches to Royce Freeman’s bagel. Neither back touched the ball in the redzone in Week 1, but Lindsay has out touched Freeman in three of the other four weeks.

Top Option

Todd Gurley (Rams) at Broncos
YTD Redzone Touches – 37 Week 5 Redzone Touches – 13
I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel with this selection. As I noted above, Gurley is leading backs in redzone touches by a wide margin of five. Adding to his case for scoring this week is the fact both Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks are in the concussion protocol, though, there seems to be optimism both will progress through that and play this weekend. Having said that, it’s early in the week and hoops for both to jump through. Regardless, this is a juicy draw for Gurley. Denver’s five rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs is tied for the third most this season, per Pro-Football-Reference, and they’ve also coughed up a score through the air. Furthermore, their run defense is reeling after coughing up 142 yards on the ground in Week 5 and then ceding an eye-popping 323 rushing yards last week. Does that sound like a defense that’s capable of keeping Gurley out of the endzone? That’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll emphatically answer that it doesn’t sound like a defense capable of keeping Gurley out of the endzone.

Value/Sleeper

Cohen (Bears) at Dolphins
YTD Redzone Touches – 6 Week 5 Redzone Touches – Bye week
The Bears are coming out of their bye week, and perhaps Cohen will be utilized more often going forward. He certainly did his part to earn more touches with a blowup performance against just prior to the bye. The second-year all-purpose weapon is a threat to score on the ground or in the air against a vulnerable defense. Miami’s four rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs is tied for the sixth most, and the three they’ve yielded through the air to them is tied for the second most. Cohen scored a receiving touchdown in the redzone against the Buccaneers in Week 4, and Miami’s allowed a receiving touchdown in the redzone to a running back in back-to-back games. I like Cohen’s odds of scoring a touchdown this week, and think there’s a great chance he gets there through the air.

Wide Receivers

Week 4 Targets Leaders

Antonio Brown topping a leaderboard for wide receivers? That’s completely unfathomable. Kidding aside, his four redzone targets were a season high and tied with a couple of Denver’s wideouts, Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders, for the Week 5 lead. Brown turned one of those four looks into his first redzone touchdown of the year. Sanders was unable to score a touchdown on any of his looks, but Sutton turned one of his four targets into an eight-yard touchdown grab. Interestingly, the redzone looks for both Sutton and Sanders were their first of the season. Among the pile up of receivers tied for the seventh most redzone targets in Week 5 with two is A.J. Green. Green didn’t score, but he’s been targeted at least one time in the redzone every game this year and has a four-game streak of multiple redzone targets. His 11 redzone targets for the year are tied for the third most. Juju Smith-Schuster continues to lead the way in redzone targets on the year with 15 after drawing two more in Week 5.

Top Option

AJ Green (Bengals) vs. Steelers
YTD Redzone Targets – 11 Week 5 Redzone Targets – 2
I discussed Green above, and his huge usage in the redzone plays well against Pittsburgh’s giving pass defense. Pittsburgh’s eight receiving touchdowns allowed to receivers are tied for the fifth most this season. Green has home/road splits that actually favor playing on the road in his career, but he corralled three touchdowns against the Ravens at home in Week 2. Furthermore, he scored two touchdowns at home the last time the Bengals played the Steelers in Cincinnati last December, and he’s scored a touchdown in four straight home games against the Steelers if you include their playoff matchup after the 2015 season. I typically avoid player versus team numbers since personnel changes annually in the NFL, but Pittsburgh’s employed the same defensive coordinator, Keith Butler, for all of those matchups, so I think Green’s success against Pittsburgh in recent years is worth mentioning.

Value/Sleeper

Taywan Taylor (Titans) vs. Ravens
YTD Redzone Targets – 4
Week 5 Redzone Targets – 2
Taylor and the Titans had a major letdown game in Buffalo, and they return home to face a Ravens squad coming off of a road letdown of their own in Cleveland. Taylor played a hand in last week’s loss to Buffalo by coughing up a fumble early, but that didn’t result in him ending up in the doghouse. That’s good news for his fantasy outlook. He received a couple of redzone looks against the Bills, though, neither resulted in a touchdown. Taylor has been targeted in the redzone in three of five games, and while he’s only scored one touchdown on his four targets, he’s reeled in three of them. The shifty wideout’s usage in that area of the field bodes well for some positive touchdown regression, and he’s bound to slip a tackle and reach pay dirt if he keeps securing his redzone targets.

Tight Ends

Week 5 Targets Leaders

Eric Ebron has been maddeningly inconsistent in his career, but he had a huge showing in a loss against the Patriots last Thursday night. He tied for the week lead in redzone targets among tight ends with four, and both of his touchdowns against New England were on redzone targets. He also now leads the position with a dozen redzone targets this year. Ryan Griffin is the other tight end who tied for top target honors at the position in Week 5, but he failed to score. He was targeted three times in the redzone back in Week 1, and he was targeted once in Week 3 between posting bagels in redzone targets in Week 2 and Week 4. Houston has too many weapons to feel good about using Griffin as even a touchdown-or-bust streamer in season long or punt in daily, but if he keeps seeing this type of work in the redzone that could change. The Chargers put the clamps on Jared Cook, but it’s promising for his weekly scoring outlook that Derek Carr still targeted him three times in the redzone last week. He’s been targeted at least once in the redzone in four straight games and has two or more redzone targets in three straight. The Rams don’t use their tight ends often, but with Kupp and Cooks knocked out of last week’s game, Gerald Everett received a couple of redzone targets. Unless both Kupp and Cooks are forced to sit this week’s game out, Everett’s a non-option in any form of fantasy.

Top Option

Travis Kelce (Chiefs) at Patriots
YTD Redzone Targets – 7 Week 5 Redzone Targets – 1
Kelce was targeted just one time in the redzone against the Jaguars last week. He’s been targeted in the redzone in four of five games this year, though, and has two touchdown grabs on his seven redzone targets. He also draws the aforementioned Patriots that were stomped by Ebron last week.

Value/Sleeper

Vance McDonald (Steelers) at Bengals
YTD Redzone Targets – 1 Week 5 Redzone Targets – 0
This might come as a tough sell, but McDonald is the only tight end on the Steelers with a redzone target. The Bengals have allowed three receiving touchdowns to tight ends this year, a total that’s tied for the third most. Cincinnati has surrendered just five receiving touchdowns to receivers this year. If they sell out to stop Brown and Smith-Schuster, McDonald will be a friendly target to Ben Roethlisberger in scoring territory.

Josh Shepardson, fantasy sports pundit who's written and/or podcasted for a wide variety of websites that include The Hardball Times, Baseball Prospectus, RotoGraphs, Daily Fantasy Cafe and FantasyPros -- among other places. He's an avid Twitter user who typically tweets about sports but has occasionally been known to tweet about music, craft beer, and other non-sports things.

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