Scoring touchdowns is the way you score the most points in fantasy football. An obvious statement for sure, but opportunity tends to provide production. After last year, I was starting to pay attention to red zone targets for fantasy players.
For example, Julio Jones had only 10.3% of the red zone targets from Matt Ryan in 2016. That resulted in him having just 4 receptions for 22 yards and 2 touchdowns. In 2018, Julio had 21.8% of the Falcons red zone targets, which had him end up with 10 catches for 100 yards and 5 scores. Those 5 touchdowns were almost as many as Julio had the previous 2 years combined.
The following list is of players that had at least 30% of their teams red zone targets and what to expect moving forward.
7. (29.6%) Michael Thomas, New Orleans
Michael Thomas had 29.6% of his teams red zone targets in 2018. I included him as part of the 30% club due to rounding his percentage up. In the red zone, Thomas had 24 receptions for 158 yards and 7 scores.
16 of Michael Thomas’ 23 career touchdowns have come from within the red zone. He is one of Drew Brees’ favorite targets in New Orleans. As long as Drew Brees is throwing to him and Sean Payton is calling the plays for the Saints @cantguardmike should be considered a top fantasy asset.
6. (30.5%) JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh
JuJu Smith-Schuster was targeted 30.5% of Pittsburgh’s red zone targets in 2018. Antonio Brown was targeted 25.3%. JuJu had 16 targets for 99 yards and 5 scores last year. 9 of Smith-Schuster’s 14 touchdowns have come from within the red zone.
Just in case you forgot, Antonio Brown now plays for the Oakland Raiders. That does not mean that JuJu will receive 50% of the red zone targets and his value will spike up like most fantasy players believe. He will face the top corner backs from opposing teams along with double teams.
That doesn’t mean his value will necessarily drop either. The Steelers have James Washington and signed Donte Moncrief this off-season to help take some of the pressure off of JuJu. I believe as long as Big Ben is throwing to Smith-Schuster, he should be considered a low WR1/ high WR2.
5. (31.4%) Zach Ertz, Philadelphia
Zach Ertz had 31.4% of Philadelphia’s red zone targets in 2018. 23 of Ertz’s 29 career scores have came from within the red zone. In 2018, Ertz had 16 catches for 113 yards and 7 touchdowns inside the 20. He had 116 receptions for 1163 yards and 8 scores during the 2018 season.
When you look at Carson Wentz’ injury history and a couple of recent draft picks by the Eagles, Ertz is a regression candidate for me. The recent draft picks of tight end Dallas Goedert in 2018 and wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside this past draft are certain to start taking away some of Ertz’ red zone targets, not to mention veteran receivers like Jeffery and Agholor. Then when you look at what should be an improved running attack, the Eagles could spend less time throwing the ball and more time running it in the red zone.
4. (31.6%) DeAndre Hopkins, Houston
DeAndre Hopkins finally had a full year with a decent quarterback. Deshaun Watson targeted him for 31.6% of the Texans red zone targets. In the red zone he caught 15 of 25 targets for 140 yards and 8 scores. He recorded 11 touchdowns overall in 2018.
Except for 2016, Hopkins has been considered a top receiver since his sophomore season. Now finally having a solid quarterback throwing to him nothing should stop him from being the first wide receiver taken in most fantasy drafts. Houston does have Will Fuller and Keke Coutee to help fill out there wide receiver corp but neither one should be a threat to Hopkins’ targets.
3. (32.2%) Jarvis Landry, Cleveland
If not for the next person on this list Landry would be the most surprising player to see here. He finished the year with just 81 receptions for 976 yards and 4 scores. Of those, 10 receptions went for 62 yards and 2 touchdowns in the red zone where he was targeted 19 times.
Last year Landry was behind the eight ball from the beginning. He pulled a reverse LeBron James by taking his talent from Miami to Cleveland via trade. He then had a new quarterback to try to build chemistry with in Tyrod Taylor, which didn’t work out for the Browns. Leading to Baker Mayfield getting his shot. Then offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Head Coach Hue Jackson were fired in the same week. With an off-season to work out with Baker Mayfield and a solid coaching staff Landry’s numbers should go up from last year. I am not worried about Beckham taking his targets as Landry will be the one taking the underneath targets and not having opposing teams top corner defending him.
2. (39.5%) Zay Jones, Buffalo
That’s right Zay Jones had the second highest percentage of targets by his team in the red zone. He was targeted 17 times to record 7 catches for 79 yards and 5 scores. He finished 2018 with 56 receptions for 652 yards and 7 scores.
There are a couple things that concern me about Zay Jones future. First, the Bills acquired John Brown this off-season. The second and more important concern is that Buffalo only threw the ball 43 times in the red zone last year. Josh Allen should have another year under his belt to improve and build chemistry with Zay Jones.
For where he is getting drafted, Jones is absolutely worth the value. However, I am not sure if he will be around 39.5% targeted inside the 20 yard line again.
1. (41.9%) Davante Adams, Green Bay
Davante Adams was Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target last year, even more so in the red zone. Adams finished with 16 receptions for 149 yards and 12 touchdowns in the red zone. Davante finished the season with 111 catches for 1386 yards and 13 scores.
Acquiring Rodgers’ number one target is not a bad thing to do. Even though his stat line from inside the 20 last year is amazing, I would not be surprised if he would put up similar numbers due to Rodgers being Rodgers and Adams being clearly the receiver he trusts the most. Davante might have finished fourth in points for wide receivers in 2018. However, he was the number one overall receiver for points per game. 29 of his 39 career touchdowns have came from within the red zone.
Thank you for reading about Players That Were Targeted More than 30% in the Red Zone in 2018. To check out articles like this and more follow me on Twitter @RotoHeatSean. And as always catch up on all things fantasy related at RotoHeat.com