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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


Red Zone Report - Runners
Preseason Matchup Analysis
7/11/17

A d v e r t i s e m e n t

One of the older fantasy football adages is more opportunity tends to lead to more success. That logic applies just as much - if not more so - inside the 20 than it does outside of it. Since touchdowns are the lifeblood of fantasy football and since the majority of them are scored closer to the goal line, it only makes sense to take into account what players are getting those chances and how successful they are with them.

Red zone analysis helps owners get a sense of what teams are doing in prime scoring territory, but looking at what teams do solely inside the 20 doesn't provide the total picture. And it makes sense why: just like in basketball where the field-goal percentage goes down as the shot get progressively longer, the percentage of teams scoring a touchdown on any given play go down the further away a team is from the goal line. In keeping up with the basketball metaphor, fantasy owners aren't concerned with the first few passes that led to the shot; we want successful conversions. The point to be made here is a lot more touchdowns are scored inside the 5 and inside the 10 than between the 11 and 20.

Here is a key for the abbreviations you will see below:

TD – Rushing Touchdown
Tm % – Percent of team's carries inside specified area

*****All data courtesy of Pro Football Reference

**** Sorted by Rush Attempts Inside the 20 Quarterbacks | Runners | Receivers
 Red Zone Report - Runners
   Inside 20  Inside 10  Inside 5
Player Pos Tm Att TD Tm% Att TD Tm% Rush TD Tm%
LeGarrette Blount RB NE 68 16 69.4% 42 15 67.7% 24 12 75.0%
David Johnson RB ARI 53 14 73.6% 33 13 80.5% 22 12 81.5%
Melvin Gordon RB SD 50 10 72.5% 27 10 79.4% 17 9 85.0%
Devonta Freeman RB ATL 50 9 59.5% 27 8 58.7% 16 5 84.2%
Jeremy Hill RB CIN 44 8 57.1% 24 7 60.0% 15 6 62.5%
Jonathan Stewart RB CAR 40 9 54.1% 20 9 54.1% 16 9 66.7%
DeMarco Murray RB TEN 40 8 56.3% 26 7 66.7% 12 6 75.0%
Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL 39 12 63.9% 22 9 59.5% 11 7 64.7%
Latavius Murray RB OAK 38 11 66.7% 25 11 78.1% 16 9 76.2%
LeSean McCoy RB BUF 38 11 44.7% 24 8 41.4% 9 4 31.0%
Matt Asiata RB MIN 36 6 55.4% 26 6 74.3% 17 5 81.0%
Mark Ingram RB NO 36 5 41.9% 15 3 34.1% 7 2 29.2%
Ryan Mathews RB PHI 35 8 45.5% 25 8 55.6% 16 6 64.0%
Todd Gurley RB LAR 33 5 76.7% 19 5 79.2% 10 5 71.4%
Rob Kelley RB WAS 32 5 51.6% 14 4 48.3% 7 3 46.7%
Jay Ajayi RB MIA 31 6 56.4% 15 5 53.6% 7 5 43.8%
Lamar Miller RB HOU 31 5 50.8% 15 5 48.4% 8 5 53.3%
Carlos Hyde RB SF 31 6 50.0% 13 5 43.3% 6 3 33.3%
Jordan Howard RB CHI 31 6 68.9% 16 6 61.5% 8 4 61.5%
Matt Forte RB NYJ 31 6 50.8% 16 5 55.2% 10 5 71.4%
Le'Veon Bell RB PIT 30 7 65.2% 14 7 63.6% 5 3 55.6%
Frank Gore RB IND 29 4 44.6% 19 4 52.8% 10 2 62.5%
Isaiah Crowell RB CLE 28 6 60.9% 18 6 64.3% 9 5 69.2%
Terrance West RB BAL 28 5 65.1% 9 4 56.3% 7 3 63.6%
Spencer Ware RB KC 27 3 40.9% 18 3 45.0% 9 2 47.4%
Tim Hightower RB NO 26 4 30.2% 16 4 36.4% 10 4 41.7%
Devontae Booker RB DEN 25 4 39.1% 11 3 36.7% 5 2 27.8%
C.J. Anderson RB DEN 23 4 35.9% 11 4 36.7% 7 3 38.9%
Doug Martin RB TB 23 3 39.7% 12 3 48.0% 9 3 56.3%
Tevin Coleman RB ATL 21 6 25.0% 11 5 23.9% 3 3 15.8%
Derrick Henry RB TEN 21 5 29.6% 11 4 28.2% 4 3 25.0%
Christine Michael RB SEA 20 5 33.3% 11 5 33.3% 7 4 41.2%
Jerick McKinnon RB MIN 20 2 30.8% 7 1 20.0% 3 1 14.3%
Bilal Powell RB NYJ 19 2 31.1% 7 1 24.1% 1 0 7.1%
Robert Turbin RB IND 18 7 27.7% 14 7 38.9% 4 3 25.0%
Thomas Rawls RB SEA 18 2 30.0% 8 2 24.2% 3 1 17.6%
Cam Newton QB CAR 17 5 23.0% 10 5 27.0% 6 5 25.0%
Matt Jones RB WAS 17 3 27.4% 6 2 20.7% 3 2 20.0%
Darren Sproles RB PHI 17 1 22.1% 7 1 15.6% 2 1 8.0%
Tyrod Taylor QB BUF 16 4 18.8% 11 2 19.0% 6 1 20.7%
Mike Gillislee RB BUF 15 7 17.6% 11 7 19.0% 6 6 20.7%
Rashad Jennings RB NYG 15 3 35.7% 10 3 40.0% 7 3 36.8%
Charcandrick West RB KC 15 1 22.7% 9 1 22.5% 4 1 21.1%
Alfred Blue RB HOU 15 0 24.6% 10 0 32.3% 3 0 20.0%
Jacquizz Rodgers RB TB 14 2 24.1% 5 2 20.0% 4 2 25.0%
Zach Zenner RB DET 13 4 35.1% 8 4 36.4% 4 2 33.3%
Chris Ivory RB JAC 13 3 41.9% 11 3 64.7% 7 3 63.6%
Giovani Bernard RB CIN 13 2 16.9% 5 2 12.5% 2 0 8.3%
Rex Burkhead RB CIN 13 2 16.9% 7 2 17.5% 3 0 12.5%
Alex Smith QB KC 12 5 18.2% 6 2 15.0% 1 1 5.3%
Ty Montgomery RB GB 12 3 21.4% 6 3 22.2% 5 3 33.3%
Aaron Rodgers QB GB 12 3 21.4% 6 2 22.2% 2 0 13.3%
Dion Lewis RB NE 12 0 12.2% 7 0 11.3% 1 0 3.1%
Eddie Lacy RB GB 10 0 17.9% 6 0 22.2% 3 0 20.0%
T.J. Yeldon RB JAC 10 1 32.3% 2 1 11.8% 1 0 9.1%
Tom Brady QB NE 10 0 10.2% 8 0 12.9% 6 0 18.8%
Marcus Mariota QB TEN 9 2 12.7% 2 1 5.1% 0 0 0.0%
Aaron Ripkowski RB GB 9 2 16.1% 4 2 14.8% 2 2 13.3%
DeAngelo Williams RB PIT 9 4 19.6% 4 3 18.2% 2 2 22.2%
Jeremy Langford RB CHI 9 4 20.0% 8 4 30.8% 5 4 38.5%
Shaun Draughn RB SF 9 4 14.5% 6 4 20.0% 5 4 27.8%
Dak Prescott QB DAL 9 6 14.8% 9 6 24.3% 3 2 17.6%
Ryan Tannehill QB MIA 9 1 16.4% 3 1 10.7% 2 1 12.5%
Damien Williams RB MIA 9 3 16.4% 6 2 21.4% 6 2 37.5%
Paul Perkins RB NYG 9 0 21.4% 2 0 8.0% 1 0 5.3%
Carson Wentz QB PHI 8 2 10.4% 3 2 6.7% 2 2 8.0%
Chris Johnson RB ARI 8 1 11.1% 2 1 4.9% 1 1 3.7%
Drew Brees QB NO 8 2 9.3% 4 2 9.1% 2 2 8.3%
Kenneth Farrow RB SD 8 0 11.6% 3 0 8.8% 2 0 10.0%
Josh Ferguson RB IND 7 0 10.8% 0 0 0.0% 0 0 0.0%
Peyton Barber RB TB 7 0 12.1% 2 0 8.0% 0 0 0.0%
Colin Kaepernick QB SF 7 2 11.3% 2 1 6.7% 1 1 5.6%
Duke Johnson RB CLE 7 1 15.2% 4 1 14.3% 1 1 7.7%
John Kuhn RB NO 7 4 8.1% 4 4 9.1% 4 4 16.7%
Wendell Smallwood RB PHI 7 1 9.1% 3 1 6.7% 2 1 8.0%
Shane Vereen RB NYG 7 1 16.7% 5 1 20.0% 3 1 15.8%
Jonathan Williams RB BUF 7 1 8.2% 5 1 8.6% 4 1 13.8%
James Starks RB GB 7 0 12.5% 3 0 11.1% 2 0 13.3%
Mike Tolbert RB CAR 7 0 9.5% 4 0 10.8% 1 0 4.2%
Theo Riddick RB DET 7 0 18.9% 5 0 22.7% 1 0 8.3%
Andrew Luck QB IND 6 2 9.2% 1 0 2.8% 0 0 0.0%
Fozzy Whittaker RB CAR 6 0 8.1% 2 0 5.4% 0 0 0.0%
Matt Ryan QB ATL 6 0 7.1% 3 0 6.5% 0 0 0.0%
Blaine Gabbert QB SF 6 2 9.7% 2 2 6.7% 2 2 11.1%
Blake Bortles QB JAC 6 2 19.4% 3 2 17.6% 3 2 27.3%
Kirk Cousins QB WAS 6 4 9.7% 4 3 13.8% 3 2 20.0%
Akeem Hunt RB HOU 6 1 9.8% 3 1 9.7% 2 1 13.3%
Kenneth Dixon RB BAL 6 2 14.0% 2 1 12.5% 2 1 18.2%
Matthew Stafford QB DET 6 2 16.2% 4 2 18.2% 2 1 16.7%
Russell Wilson QB SEA 6 1 10.0% 4 1 12.1% 2 1 11.8%
Charles Sims RB TB 6 1 10.3% 3 1 12.0% 3 1 18.8%
Dwayne Washington RB DET 6 1 16.2% 4 1 18.2% 4 1 33.3%
C.J. Prosise RB SEA 6 0 10.0% 5 0 15.2% 2 0 11.8%
DuJuan Harris RB SF 6 0 9.7% 5 0 16.7% 3 0 16.7%
Eli Manning QB NYG 6 0 14.3% 5 0 20.0% 5 0 26.3%
Derek Carr QB OAK 5 0 8.8% 0 0 0.0% 0 0 0.0%
Jameis Winston QB TB 5 1 8.6% 3 1 12.0% 0 0 0.0%
Terron Ward RB ATL 5 0 6.0% 3 0 6.5% 0 0 0.0%
Alfred Morris RB DAL 5 2 8.2% 2 2 5.4% 2 2 11.8%
Andy Dalton QB CIN 5 4 6.5% 4 4 10.0% 4 4 16.7%
Brock Osweiler QB HOU 5 2 8.2% 2 2 6.5% 2 2 13.3%
Jamize Olawale RB OAK 5 2 8.8% 4 2 12.5% 3 2 14.3%
Orleans Darkwa RB NYG 5 2 11.9% 3 2 12.0% 3 2 15.8%
Alex Collins RB SEA 5 1 8.3% 2 1 6.1% 2 1 11.8%
Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT 5 1 10.9% 4 1 18.2% 2 1 22.2%
Chris Thompson RB WAS 5 2 8.1% 3 2 10.3% 2 1 13.3%
Joe Flacco QB BAL 5 2 11.6% 3 2 18.8% 2 1 18.2%
Andre Ellington RB ARI 5 0 6.9% 3 0 7.3% 1 0 3.7%
Jalen Richard RB OAK 4 0 7.0% 0 0 0.0% 0 0 0.0%
Kapri Bibbs RB DEN 4 0 6.3% 0 0 0.0% 0 0 0.0%
Tavon Austin WR LAR 4 0 9.3% 1 0 4.2% 0 0 0.0%
Kenjon Barner RB PHI 4 2 5.2% 3 2 6.7% 1 1 4.0%
Jamaal Charles RB KC 4 1 6.1% 3 1 7.5% 2 1 10.5%
DeAndre Washington RB OAK 4 0 7.0% 3 0 9.4% 2 0 9.5%
James White RB NE 4 0 4.1% 4 0 6.5% 1 0 3.1%
Trevor Siemian QB DEN 4 0 6.3% 2 0 6.7% 1 0 5.6%

Qualified RB Averages (RBs/WRs/QBs with at least four RZ carries)
Inside the 20: 20.1 percent conversion rate
Inside the 10: 33.1 percent completion rate
Inside the 5: 47.2 percent completion rate

Note: The focus on the next two pages will be inside the 5 and a bit inside the 10, as the majority of TD runs occur within those ranges.

In 2015, Devonta Freeman led the league with 47 red zone attempts, DeAngelo Williams paced the field with 30 carries inside the 10 and Williams and Chris Ivory each had a league-best 18 runs inside the 5. LeGarrette Blount (68, 42 and 24) kind of blew them right out of the water last year, didn't he? With the Patriots expected to be better offensively this year, this obviously bodes well for Mike Gillislee. Perhaps not coincidentally, Gillislee was 6-for-6 on scoring touchdowns on carries inside the 5.

While slightly less efficient overall in all three ranges last year, Freeman saw almost exactly the same amount of work at each level. Will new OC Steve Sarkisian fall in line with former play-caller Kyle Shanahan in that regard? It bears mentioning while Tevin Coleman was less efficient than Freeman inside the 20 and inside the 10, he was 3-for-3 on opportunities inside the 5. (Freeman was 5-for-16.)

So, you think Le'Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott maxed out their upside? Well, maybe not. While David Johnson was the only runner to rival Blount at the 20, 10 and 5, Bell and Elliott comparatively did not see a lot of work. Elliott (11) tallied only half as many carries inside the 5 as Johnson (22), while Bell saw less than half of Elliott's relative meager workload. Bell's usage is particularly striking, as Rob Kelley, Jay Ajayi, Jordan Howard and Matt Forte - each of whom started roughly the same number of games - saw as much (if not more) work in all three ranges than the Steelers' stud back.

Fans who want to find fault with the way Tennessee used DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry last year can use these numbers to make their case. The Titans seemed to favor Henry more inside the red zone as the season went on, presumably to keep Murray from hurting his injured toe any further. Although few would quibble with how efficient Murray was inside the 20, 10 and 5, Henry was better at each level.

Not a big fan of Frank Gore losing red zone work to Robert Turbin? Tough. The "Turbinator" was as good - if not better - than Henry (that's right, Derrick Henry) at every level. To be kind, Gore was awful (13.8 percent conversion rate inside the 20, 21.1 inside the 10 and 20 percent inside the 5).

The narrative that Lamar Miller had a disappointing first season in Houston has been overplayed so much at this point that it has become tiresome. He ran for over 1,000 yards in 14 games playing hurt for most of the season with a quarterback who did not scare defenses and running behind a below-average line. (LT Duane Brown and C Greg Mancz, who filled in for 2016 second-round pick Nick Martin after he was lost for the season in training camp with a high ankle sprain, were the only Texans' linemen who graded out halfway well as run-blockers per PFF.) Miller is healthy and should get the rest he needs with D'Onta Foreman backing him up, Brock Osweiler is gone and Martin is back. Perhaps most amazingly, Miller (62.5 percent) was on par with Elliott (63.6) and slightly better than Bell (60) in terms of converting inside the 5. In case you are wondering if Miller's conversion rate inside the 5 last year was a fluke, it was 57.1 in 2015 with Miami.

Jeremy Hill may still be considered the odds-on favorite for goal line work. However, his 40-percent conversion rate inside the 5 was not only below the league average last year, but also significantly lower than his 56.3-percent mark in 2015. Behind a less proven offensive line this season, one has to wonder if he'll even hold on to the short-yardage/goal line role in Cincinnati all season with Joe Mixon around if he cannot improve that number.

For all those folks expecting Adrian Peterson to swoop right in and take all the goal line work, maybe not so fast. While it is true Mark Ingram did not fare well at any level in the red zone last year (13.9-percent conversion rate inside the 20, 20 percent inside the 10 and 28.6 inside the 5), AP didn't exactly set the world on fire in his last full season in Minnesota two years ago (15.5, 26.9, 25). In case you were wondering, all those numbers were fairly steep drop-offs from his previous full season in 2013. Yes, quality of offensive line makes a big difference, and he will have Football Outsiders' top unit in terms of adjusted line yards paving the way for him this year.

Following the selection of Christian McCaffrey, the general consensus seems to be Jonathan Stewart will serve as the rookie's backup and/or be relegated in some way to change-of-pace/goal line/short-yardage work. Folks, I'm as big of a fan of McCaffrey as any fantasy analyst, but the Panthers didnít extend the 30-year-old Stewart's contract in March only to cut down his role a month later by drafting McCaffrey. Regarding only his red zone prowess, Stewart managed above-average efficiency inside the 20 (22.5), 10 (45) and 5 (56.3) despite running behind what was generally recognized as one of the worst offensive lines in the league last year. The Panthers loved their "Double Trouble" days with Stewart and DeAngelo Williams - in the rare instance both players stayed healthy - and McCaffrey's selection was a move toward an upgraded version of that, albeit with more emphasis on getting the ball out of Cam Newton's hands quickly and keeping him healthy.

Melvin Gordon was actually a bit more efficient converting inside the 10 (37) and 5 (53) than Blount and right on track with David Johnson (39.3, 54.6). While it wouldn't be overly surprising to see the third-year back share more of the work with Branden Oliver and perhaps Andre Williams in between the 20s this year (Gordon accepted 213 of the 234 carries San Diego handed out to running backs from Week 3-13 after Danny Woodhead was lost for the season in Week 2 and before Gordon got hurt early in Week 14), there's plenty of reason to believe Gordon will match his attempts in all three ranges and be more successful at doing so. If there is one running back I believe can crack the "Big Three" of Johnson, Bell and Elliott this year, it is Gordon.

While plenty of owners remember Jay Ajayi didn't take over the full-time job in Miami until Week 5, he still was able to rush for eight touchdowns. Given that production, it may come as a surprise how uninvolved he was inside the 20, relatively speaking. Somehow, despite handling 242 of the Dolphins' 298 carries from Week 5 on, Ajayi received only 56.4 percent of the team's carries for the year inside the 20, 53.6 inside the 10 and 43.8 inside the 5. The last number is the most surprising, if only because he scored on 71.4 percent of those attempts. With a talented supporting cast going into its second year together under HC Adam Gase and the starting job no longer in question, it's not hard to see Ajayi was significantly more TD upside in 2017.

For everyone who believes Ty Montgomery needs to be removed at the goal line given his receiver background, keep reading. It is notable he was well above league-average inside the 20 (25 percent), 10 (50) and 5 (60). It bears mentioning he could've easily benefited from small sample size in this case, as his 12 red zone carries tied him with his quarterback (Rodgers) for the team lead. With that said, it seems ironic at the very least the Packers' first running back choice was Jamaal Williams, who just happens to do two or three things really well that seem to be knocks/unknowns on/for Montgomery (pass-blocking, ball security and power running). It's almost as if Green Bay already knows it wants Montgomery leading a committee and Williams to handle the goal line/short yardage role as well as serve as the four-minute back.

Next | Receivers | Quarterbacks



Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”. Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.