Redzone Report Week 5

The Red Zone Report takes a weekly look at red-zone 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 4 Touches Leaders
A familiar face is atop — or tied atop this week — the redzone touches list at running back. Alvin Kamara is once again up there with six redzone touches last week, and he delivered the goods as my top option at running back last week. The second-year back scored three touchdowns on the ground, two of which were scored from the redzone. The running back he opposed, Saquon Barkley, also appears on the pictured leaderboard with four redzone touches, one of which was turned into a one-yard touchdown run. The Patriots had two backs appear on the leaderboard with Sony Michel tying for the week lead with six redzone touches and James White finishing with four redzone touches of his own.Each scored one touchdown in the redzone, and White added a 22-yard touchdown run as well for good measure. Rookie Ito Smith might be the most surprising name on the leaderboard, though, his chances for scoring redzone touches as Tevin Coleman’s complement might be up with Devonta Freeman possibly back this week. Should Freeman miss more time, however, or get banged up later in the season, Smith has a chance to be a touchdown-or-bust flex play.

Top Option
Melvin Gordon (LAC) vs. Raiders
YTD Redzone Touches – 14 Week 4 Redzone Touches – 5
Gordon’s a redzone usage monster in a dreamy spot. The versatile back’s 14 redzone touches this year are ranked tied for the fourth most at running back, and he’s turned five of those into touchdowns. This week, he and the high-flying Chargers offense host the Raiders. Oakland is tied for the third most rushing touchdowns allowed to running backs (four) with one receiving touchdown allowed to them as well, per Pro-Football-Reference. Further working in Gordon’s favor is the efficiency of the Chargers in the redzone. As you can see here, they’re tied for eighth in redzone touchdown percentage at 70%. Per William Hill, the Chargers are six-point favorites in a contest with an over/under total of 53.5 points, making them a good bet to reach pay dirt often Sunday.

Derrick Henry (TEN) at Bills
YTD Redzone Touches – 11 Week 4 Redzone Touches – 4
Henry’s yet to reach the end zone this year. That’s not good. Having said that, he’s the clear goal-line back with 11 touches in the redzone this year compared to only four for Dion Lewis. Whether he should remain the goal-line back is a fair question since Lewis has turned one of his four redzone touches into a score and Henry’s yet to score, but I suspect this will be a make-or-break week for him keeping that role. The Bills have coughed up the second most rushing touchdowns (five) to running backs this year, so if Henry can’t punch one in this week, the Titans would be foolish to continue to use him in scoring territory. Look for him to rise to the occasion and get off the schneid.

Wide Receivers

Week 4 Targets Leaders
Amari Cooper stands alone atop the redzone target leaderboard at wide receiver last week with four. He’d yet to be targeted in the redzone prior to last week, but he rewarded Derek Carr and the coaching staff for his looks with two grabs on those four targets, one of which scored a touchdown. A.J. Green is one of six players tied for the second most redzone targets at wideout last week (one of whom is Tyler Boyd), and he turned one of his three redzone targets into a game-winning touchdown. Green is tied with four others for the second most redzone touchdowns (three) at receiver this season.

Top Option
Calvin Ridley (Falcons) at Steelers
YTD Redzone Targets – 5 Week 4 Redzone Targets -2
The leader in redzone receiving touchdowns at wide receiver this year is Calvin Ridley. He tied with a host of other wideouts for eighth at the position in redzone targets last week with two, and he turned one of those into a score. Whether it’s a product of Julio Jones commanding redzone attention or simply having excellent rapport with Matt Ryan in that part of the field, Ridley’s terrorized teams in the redzone and scored four of his NFL best six receiving touchdowns in the redzone. It’s also worth pointing out that he’s been extremely efficient, turning four of his five redzone targets into scores and hauling in all of those targets. This week, he faces a Steelers defense that’s tied for the seventh most receiving touchdowns allowed to receivers with four. The game projects to be a shootout with an over/under total of 57 points and just a three-point spread favoring the host Steelers.

Marvin Jones (Lions) vs. Packers
YTD Redzone Targets – 7 Week 4 Redzone Targets – 1
Listen, I love Kenny Golladay as much as the next guy, but his second-year breakout takes the spotlight of Detroit’s leader at wide receiver in redzone targets. Jones’ seven redzone targets this year are tied for the sixth most among wide receivers. He’s turned just one of those targets into a catch, but he made it count as a touchdown grab. He’s due for positive touchdown regression on his robust redzone target volume, and the Packers have been giving to the position tying for the sixth most touchdown receptions allowed to receivers (six) this season. That’s despite facing Buffalo’s ragtag group of wideouts in a shutout effort last week. Jones is underpriced at the daily fantasy sites and makes for an attractive option in GPPs.

Tight Ends

Week 4 Targets Leaders
Tight end is a fantasy wasteland, and there was a nine-man tie for most redzone targets honor at the position with a whopping two in Week 4. Yikes. Having said that, there are some interesting names among those nine players that include old-man Antonio Gates, Eric Ebron, George Kittle, Jared Cook, Jimmy Graham, and Zach Ertz.

Top Option
Zach Ertz (Eagles) vs. Vikings
YTD Redzone Targets – 7 Week 4 Redzone Targets – 2
Speaking of Ertz, he’s third at the position this year in redzone targets, but he’s yet to score his first touchdown of the year. In Carson Wentz’s first two games back (Week 3 and Week 4), he’s targeted Ertz a pair of times in the redzone in each contest. This is the week Ertz scores his first touchdown of 2018 against a Vikings defense that’s allowed only one touchdown to the position this year but otherwise struggled with the position yielding 16 receptions on 25 targets for 246 yards.

Geoff Swaim (Cowboys) at Texans
YTD Redzone Targets – 2 Week 4 Redzone Targets -2
If you’re rooting around the bargain bin for a touchdown-or-bust option at tight end this week, you could do worse than looking Swaim’s way. He saw both of his redzone targets last week, and he turned one into a touchdown. The Texans are tied for the second most touchdowns allowed to tight ends (three) this season. Additionally, if you’re playing on the daily sites in any of their primetime slates, Swaim’s teammate Rico Gathers is a contrarian options. Gathers has only played 20 offensive snaps this year, and he’s yet to record a reception in the NFL. The former basketball player was drafted as a project at the position in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and he’s received his first game action this year playing in three games. Last week’s 10 offensive snaps represents his single-game high, but he’s being deployed in the redzone and has a pair of targets in that area of the field.

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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