Fantasy Football: Five Concerning Performances with Red Zone Targets
Last week, we examined the good when it comes to red zone targets. Using the percentage of teams' targets in the red zone, we're able to see which receivers have the highest potential for touchdowns. Targets aren't everything, though, as a receiver could be remarkably inefficient. That thought shapes our approach this week. Last week was good, so this week… is bad.
This time, we'll look at Fantasy Football receiver red zone targets with disappointing results.
Jarvis Landry, MIA – Not surprisingly, the receivers on this week's list also had a poor touchdown conversion percentage on their red zone receptions. In fact, only 17 receivers had a lower touchdown percentage on receptions than Landry (the chart shows touchdown percentage to targets), which includes four tight ends and a few rookies. This is what Fantasy Football owners fail to realize when it comes to Landry. While he's a reception machine and sees a good number of red zone targets, very few come within the 10 yard line and even fewer actually in the end zone. So while Landry is going to catch most of his targets, his 17.6 percent red zone target share is middle of the pack and the touchdown potential is minimal given his usage. Don't overrate Landry, especially in non-PPR, as his lack of touchdown potential will always cap his value.
Amari Cooper, OAK – Cooper not only had a poor red zone target share, but his mark (14.4%) was significantly lower than teammate Michael Crabtree's (23.3%). Additionally, Cooper caught just five of his 13 red zone targets with none going for touchdowns. Even worse, Cooper didn't catch a single target inside the 10 yard line. This isn't new for Cooper either. During his rookie season, Cooper had seven red zone targets for three receptions and two touchdowns with zero targets inside the 10. Obviously, having 13 targets and zero touchdowns is a bit fluky, but those inside-the-10 numbers are concerning. Crabtree is clearly Derek Carr's first option in the red zone, and two years of inefficiency for Cooper could make Carr continue to look to Crabtree first. Nevertheless, we have to expect more touchdowns if Cooper sees the same number of targets, but it would take a significant improvement for Cooper to reach the Top 10 status many want to give him. Seeing these numbers, I'm not one of those people.
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU – "The quarterback play can't get any worse, right?" Riiiiiiight…..? So much for that assumption last year, huh?
Brock Osweiler lit Hopkins' value on fire, poured a dump truck of gasoline on it and then tossed a flak jacket full of grenades on it for good measure. Hopkins had 22 red zone targets for 12 receptions and eight touchdowns in 2015. Last year, those numbers were just nine, three and one. Interestingly enough, Hopkins had six targets inside the 10 last year and in 2015. However, again we see evidence of Osweiler's destructive wake, as Hopkins had four receptions for four touchdowns in 2015 and just one and one last year. Tom Savage is the starter as of today, and whether he holds the job for the entire season or Deshaun Watson takes over, we can actually say, "it can't get any worse," and mean it this year. Hopkins may not get back to 22, 12 and eight with Savage or Watson, but he'll bounce back from last year, and will be knocking on that WR1 door.
Willie Snead, NO – Snead is a lot like Landry with better performance inside the 10 yard line but a lesser target share. While proponents of Snead for 2017 will argue that Brandin Cooks' departure is great news for Snead, let's hold off on that for now… especially as we examine Cooks next. Snead simply isn't a true red zone presence at 5'11", 195 pounds and with his skill set. Snead is great at finding space, but the low 11.2 percent of the red zone targets isn’t different from 2015 when he saw 11.1 percent… and that was before Michael Thomas' arrival. So Cooks is gone, but Thomas is here, and Drew Brees spreading the ball around isn't going to end with Cooks in New England. Ted Ginn isn't going to put up Cooks' numbers, but he can stretch the field and was a Top 25 receiver in the second half last year, even with Cam Newton struggling. I buy more into Ginn being undervalued than Snead improving his red zone performance. Maybe we'll see one or two additional touchdowns for Snead, but that's about it, so don't go overboard.
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Brandin Cooks, NE – Now we get to Cooks and see that he had an even lower red zone target share than Snead did (10.3%)! Cooks also had just 11.1 percent in 2015, which isn't surprising given Cooks' size and ability as a burner/big-play weapon. Both Cooks and Snead had six targets inside the 10 last year, and you shouldn't expect much of a change for Cooks with the Patriots. That's a good thing, though. Cooks doesn't rely on red zone or end zone targets for his Fantasy Football value. Cooks makes his mark in the big play department, tied for the lead in receptions of 40-plus yards last year with six, four of which went for touchdowns. For reference, Cooks only had eight touchdowns last year. The main takeaway here is that Cooks doesn't need to worry about Julian Edelman's 20.8 percent red zone share last year, 19.3 percent in 2015 or Rob Gronkowski's 22.9 percent in 2015. Cooks' value is in the big plays and he will continue to produce them with Tom Brady as his new quarterback.
Main Image credit: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
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