The Red Zone Monster series is back! In this series, we are going to look at the players with the most rushing attempts, targets, and passing attempts in the Red Zone during the 2020 season. While taking a look back, we will also take a look forward and see how their 2020 stats could translate into the 2021 season and beyond. By looking at Red Zone statistics, fantasy football players can figure out which players they should target or avoid in the upcoming season. The following players were the top 10 players with rushing attempts inside the 20-yard line last season.
10Cam Newton, New England QB
If I told you that the player with the 10th most rushing attempts during the 2020 season was a quarterback, you’d probably think Lamar Jackson had another MVP type of season. However, here we find Cam Newton. With his first year in New England, Newton had 42 rushing attempts in the Red Zone. He ended up with 93 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns. Cam Newton certainly has the talent to be in the top 10 for Red Zone rushing attempts during the 2021 season. However, there are factors that could limit his production.
While Newton had decent rushing numbers inside the Red Zone, it was his Red Zone passing numbers that concerned fantasy managers. For the season, Newton completed 65.8% of his passes. In the Red Zone, his completion percentage dropped to 52.78%, and threw just 5 touchdowns. Because of his production, first-round pick Mac Jones could also end up taking snaps behind center at some point this season as well, limiting his production. I would be surprised if Newton is a Red Zone monster in 2021 like he was in 2020.
9Alvin Kamara, New Orleans RB
The player that had the ninth most rushing attempts in the Red Zone would be Alvin Kamara. Kamara had rushed 42 times for 137 yards and 15 scores. Kamara was solidified as a Red Zone monster on Christmas last year, with his performance against the Vikings where he ran for 155 yards and 6 scores on 22 attempts. In that game, he also had 10 attempts for 41 yards and 5 scores.
During the 2020 season, Kamara had just 1 game where he rushed for over 90 yards and ran for just 932 yards last season. The Saints run a lot of different packages, including ones where quarterback Taysom Hill lines up and does sneaks at the goal line. Hill had 9 attempts inside the 5-yard line last season that resulted in 6 scores. Kamara is a player that I am avoiding at the moment, as his numbers weren’t too impressive this season as the Saints tried getting Hill more involved in the offense.
8David Montgomery, Chicago RB
David Montgomery had the 8th most Red Zone rushing attempts in 2020. He had 44 attempts for 137 yards and 7 scores inside the 20. Montgomery had the “Bear” of the carries for Chicago, with former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky having the second most Red Zone attempts with 9. Montgomery also added 6 receptions for 42 yards and another touchdown. David Montgomery will have added competition in 2021 with the return of Tarik Cohen.
Tarik Cohen might see some targets on passing downs, but Montgomery should see the bulk of carries, especially in the Red Zone. The main threat to Montgomery’s production would be Chicago’s first-round pick Justin Fields. Justin Fields has good mobility and can move the ball on broken pass plays, possibly scoring in the Red Zone.
The Bears converted 34.6% of 3rd down attempts in 2020, which was 31st in the NFL. They also scored touchdowns on 56.4% of the time when they were in the Red Zone last year, which was 22nd in the NFL. I like David Montgomery to keep up his pace from 2020 and continue to improve as the Bears’ offense continues to improve and make more trips into the Red Zone.
7Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas RB
The player with the 7th most Red Zone rushing attempts is the Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke finished 2020 with 45 carries for 100 yards and 6 scores. He averaged 2.22 yards per carry in the Red Zone. For the season, Elliott rushed 244 times for 979 yards and 6 touchdowns. When Dallas wasn’t in the Red Zone, Zeke rushed 199 times for 879 yards and averaged 4.42 yards per carry. Almost twice as much per carry when not in the Red Zone.
Elliott being on the list for the top 10 Red Zone Monsters from 2020 is kind of surprising to me with as bad as the Cowboys’ offense was. Elliott had his worst season in 2020. He had his least amount of rushing yards, yards rushing per game, and total touchdowns while playing in 15 games. In 2017, Elliott played in just 10 games and rushed for 983 yards and 7 scores.
Elliott is a player that I would be passing on right now and could see his numbers going down over the next couple of years. Tony Pollard had 13 rushing attempts in the Red Zone last season and quarterback Dak Prescott had 6 attempts in 5 games. Dallas has a lot of weapons they can turn to as well, which could hurt Elliott’s numbers in the future.
6Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis RB
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor has the 6th most Red Zone rushing attempts in 2020. He had 47 rushes for 116 yards and 9 scores. Taylor proved to be a Red Zone monster in 2020 as he had 54% of the Red Zone rushing attempts for the Colts last season. The rookie running back finished 2020 with 232 yards for 1,169 yards and 11 scores. He had only 3 games where he didn’t rush for more than 3.75 yards per carry during the regular season.
Taylor’s numbers will continue to improve over the next couple of years. The Colts will probably not rely too much on newly acquired quarterback Carson Wentz in the Red Zone. The only threat to Taylor’s production in 2020 was Nyhiem Hines. Hines was the only other Colts player that had double-digit carries inside the 20. Hines is more of a 3rd down back and Taylor should see more touches in his second year.
5Todd Gurley, Atlanta RB
With the LA Rams, Todd Gurley was a Red Zone monster. With the Atlanta Falcons, Gurley was a shell of his former self. He finished the season with 195 carries for 678 yards and 9 scores. In the Red Zone last season, Gurley had 52 attempts for 98 yards and 8 touchdowns. He averaged just 1.88 yards per carry inside the 20. No other player on the Falcons had more than 8 attempts inside the 20 last season.
As of the date this article was posted, Todd Gurley is still a free agent. He will probably find a team, but likely as a backup. The Falcons signed free agent running back Mike Davis in the offseason. Davis filled in nicely with the Panthers after McCaffrey was hurt. Matt Ryan will have some decent weapons to throw to, but Davis should be the main back in Atlanta this year.
4Kenyan Drake, Arizona RB
The next Red Zone monster is Kenyan Drake. The former Arizona running back had the 4th most rushing attempts inside the 20. Drake finished 2020 with 56 attempts for 121 yards and 9 scores in the Red Zone. He finished the season with 239 carries for 955 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished second on the team in touchdowns behind quarterback Kyler Murray and third in yards per carry behind Murray and Chase Edmonds. Both Murray and Edmonds had at least 13 carries inside the 20.
The way that the Cardinals use Murray in the Red Zone, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a Red Zone monster next season. Kenyan Drake, on the other hand, signed with the Raiders and will be backing up Josh Jacobs. Barring an injury to Jacobs, I don’t see Drake having a huge fantasy impact in 2021 unless the Raiders plan on giving Jacobs some plays off during games.
3Dalvin Cook, Minnesota RB
With 58 carries inside the 20, Dalvin Cook had the 3rd most Red Zone attempts. This Red Zone monster turned those 58 attempts into 13 scores and 222 yards. Cook had 58% of the carries inside the 20, Alexander Mattison had 22 attempts for 22%, no other Viking had double-digit attempts. The 2-time Pro-Bowl running back finished 2020 with 312 carries for 1,557 yards and 16 scores. He also added 44 receptions for 361 yards and another score in the passing game.
Cook has been really consistent the 2 seasons and should be considered a top running back in your fantasy league. The Vikings can use him as the third option in the passing game or as a blocker that can pick up blitzes. Cook seems to have good chemistry with quarterback Kirk Cousins, and is a 3 down running back. The only threat to Cook right now is Alexander Mattison, which the Vikings like to use to run down the clock when the game is in hand.
2 Derrick Henry, Tennessee RB
This Red Zone monster shouldn’t be a surprise, considering Derrick Henry has led the NFL in attempts, rushing yards and touchdowns the last 2 seasons. The surprising thing for me is that Henry isn’t number 1 for most Red Zone rushing attempts in 2020. Henry had 59 attempts for 173 yards and 13 scores inside the 20. He might have had more touchdowns, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill ran 6 in himself in the Red Zone. No other Titan besides Tannehill had double digit attempts inside the 20.
Henry is 6’3″ and 247 lbs, and is one of the hardest running backs to bring down in the NFL. The only concern affecting Derrick Henry continuing to be a Red Zone monster would be how much the Titans have used him over the last 2 seasons. He had a combined 681 attempts and 3,567 yards during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
1 Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas RB
Josh Jacobs is the surprise player atop the list of Red Zone monsters for the 2020 season. Don’t get me wrong, Josh Jacobs is a good player. However, when it comes to running backs scoring touchdowns I think of Henry, Cook, or even Kamara. Jacobs had 64 rushes for 166 yards and 11 scores inside the 20 last season. He had 65.3% of the Raiders’ Red Zone carries, 72.9% inside the 10, and 78.3% inside the 5-yard line. Josh Jacobs was a Pro-Bowl selection in 2020 and turned 273 carries into 1,065 yards and 12 scores.
Jacobs will be joined in the Las Vegas backfield by fellow Red Zone Monster and former Arizona Cardinal Kenyan Drake. I am interested in how this situation plays out. Josh Jacobs could see a majority of the carries, Drake could be a change of pace back or 3rd down back, or it could be an even split. I would steer clear of Jacobs this offseason for now because of the price. Drake could be a nice buy-low though, as he could be viewed as a backup.
Thank you for reading about the Red Zone Monsters: top 10 carries inside the Red Zone in 2020. Make sure to check out RotoHeat.com for more articles on Dynasty Fantasy Football. Also, check out our Facebook group to join the conversation.