Red Zone Carries + Targets: Week 10 Preview

Erik Smith previews the upcoming week's red zone usage, including positive notes on Marlon Mack, Nick Chubb, and Amari Cooper.

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Week ten features four teams on their bye week (BAL, DEN, HOU, MIN). This article will skip players on those teams, as well as players in the Thursday night game (PIT, CAR). My week ten leaders in red zone carries+targets are listed below. Projected carries+targets should be given more weight than projected points, as projected points can still see a big swing depending on the outcomes of just a few red zone opportunities. Fantasy points are based on PPR scoring.

Thanks to Pro Football Reference for their excellent red zone data and play index.

Please note: This is a red zone article. Projections and rankings are based on red zone usage only


Week 10 Red Zone Projections: RB Top 10 Carries+Targets

Player Proj C+T Proj RZ Pts
Todd Gurley 9.1 17.0
Alvin Kamara 8.0 14.7
Kareem Hunt 5.0 12.2
Melvin Gordon 4.1 11.5
James White 3.7 9.5
Adrian Peterson 3.2 4.1
Jordan Howard 3.1 5.2
Saquon Barkley 2.8 4.1
Ito Smith 2.8 5.2
Sony Michel 2.7 3.0

Noteworthy Week 10 RBs

Marlon Mack/Nyheim Hines

Typically a matchup against the Jaguars is one to avoid when looking for a touchdown out of a running back. The Jaguars defense has not been the same this year, however, as evidenced by a healthy 24.5 points projected by Vegas for the Colts at home. The Colts offense has been lighting up the scoreboard lately, and it has been led by a rejuvenated run game.

Last time they played, in week 8, RB Marlon Mack and RB Nyheim Hines both saw five red zone carries, with Hines also seeing a red zone target. Mack scored two touchdowns in week 8 against Oakland and has four touchdowns in his last two weeks. Mack is on the injury report this week with a foot injury, although there have been no indications that it is serious. Assuming he plays, Mack is in a good spot at home to score a touchdown. And if he misses the game or is on a snap count, Hines suddenly becomes an interesting option as a cheap play in daily fantasy, or as a bye week fill-in that is still available in many leagues.

Nick Chubb

RB Nick Chubb is tied for third in red zone carries over the last three weeks with 10, behind only RB Todd Gurley and RB Alvin Kamara, the elite of the league’s red zone options. Chubb saw five red zone carries last week against the Chiefs and finds himself in a similar matchup this week at home against the Falcons. Chubb has not been very involved in the passing game, which will always put him at risk of being phased out of the game plan in a blowout, and the Browns are six-point underdogs this week. But before Atlanta’s defense righted the ship last week against Washington, they were giving up significant fantasy points to every back they faced. Chubb already has 18% of the Browns red zone carries+targets on the season despite only starting for three games, and is a high upside play at a cheap price for daily fantasy.

Miami & Arizona RBs

The Miami Dolphins’ offense has shockingly overtaken Arizona for the least red zone carries+targets this year with 41, with Arizona three ahead at 44 for the year. By comparison, the Rams lead the league with 124 red zone carries+targets, and the Saints are second with 121. The league average for red zone carries+targets this year comes in at 76. That’s a significant loss of scoring opportunities for players in these offenses.

Poor RB David Johnson is being killed by his offensively challenged team, although when the Cardinals do make it to the red zone his usage is off the charts. He trails only Gurley in the percentage of his team’s red zone carries+targets with 50% and amazingly ranks fifth in the league in carries+targets inside the 10-yard line despite his team running the second-fewest red zone plays. A matchup against the Chiefs should provide hope for his owners, but Vegas projects a surprisingly low 16.5 points for the Cardinals. If the Cardinals can make the red zone, Johnson will have a chance to score. But to put things in perspective one last time, Arizona only has 18 red zone carries all year, while the Rams lead the league with 69. Even a talent like Johnson will struggle to overcome those odds.

For the Dolphins, RB Kenyan Drake has done all he can by peppering in five touchdowns despite his team’s infrequent trips to the red zone. He’s received a healthy 30% of his team’s red zone carries+targets even in a timeshare, with RB Frank Gore seeing 28% of the team’s red zone carries+targets (only producing 1 TD). While the Dolphins are obviously leaning on their running backs in the red zone, this week against the Packers has the Dolphins projected to score only 18.75 points as 10 point underdogs. There’s too high a probability of this turning into a blowout to like the Dolphins running backs this week.


Week 10 Red Zone Projections: WR Top 10 Carries+Targets

Player Proj C+T Proj RZ Pts
Davante Adams 2.6 8.7
Michael Thomas 2.4 6.9
Sammy Watkins 1.9 4.7
Cooper Kupp 1.9 4.2
Jarvis Landry 1.7 2.6
Brandin Cooks 1.6 4.1
Odell Beckham 1.6 1.2
Chris Godwin 1.5 4.6
Sterling Shepard 1.5 2.3
Tyreek Hill 1.4 5.4

Noteworthy Week 10 WRs

Amari Cooper

While I don’t really like the situation for WR Amari Cooper very much, and I think he is an underwhelming fantasy option, Cooper’s week 9 red zone usage in his first game with the Cowboys can’t be ignored. He lead the NFL with four red zone targets last week, turning one into a touchdown. The Cowboys seem likely to force the ball to Cooper in hopes of justifying the price they paid for him, and with few other options in the passing game, this will likely be the game plan for the rest of the year.

Vegas projects the Cowboys for a lowly 18.25 points this week against the Eagles, though the Eagles have allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year. There are reasons to be down on Cooper, but if he gets four red zone targets a week he will stumble into enough touchdowns to be a fantasy starter.

Calvin Ridley

After an otherworldly start to the year in the red zone, WR Calvin Ridley has been stuck on five red zone targets for the last four weeks. He was never going to keep up his incredible start where he scored four red zone touchdowns on five targets, but zero red zone usage the last four weeks is still surprising. Until Ridley starts seeing some red zone usage again, he will likely remain a big play dependent WR2/3. And in daily fantasy, there are some similarly priced options that seem more likely to find the end zone than Ridley this week.


Week 10 Red Zone Projections: TE Top 10 Carries+Targets

Player Proj C+T Proj RZ Pts
Travis Kelce 2.2 7.4
Eric Ebron 2.1 6.5
Zach Ertz 1.9 4.1
Jimmy Graham 1.2 3.0
Trey Burton 1.2 4.8
Jared Cook 1.2 2.9
George Kittle 1.2 2.7
Ben Watson 1.1 3.2
O.J. Howard 1.0 5.0
Austin Hooper 1.0 3.1

Noteworthy Week 10 TEs

O.J. Howard

TE O.J. Howard saw 3 red zone targets last week and scored two touchdowns in QB Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s return to the lineup. If he can continue to see the red zone work over TE Cameron Brate, Howard will be a top end tight end play all year. Expect Howard’s 9% of Tampa Bay’s red zone carries+targets to increase going forward, which would boost him further up the tight end ranks. With his offense projected for a healthy 27 points against Washington this week, Howard should have several opportunities to score again this week.

Rob Gronkowski

TE Rob Gronkowski seems in danger of missing his second straight week, has only seen two red zone targets all year to go along with zero red zone points, and is no longer the top priced tight end on daily fantasy sites. Nothing lasts forever in the NFL, but it is still shocking to see Gronkowski with only 2% of the Patriots red zone carries+targets this year.


Red Zone GIF of the Week

[gfycat data_id=”backcompassionateindianrockpython”]

WR Antonio Brown has been a touchdown machine this year, scoring last week on the play above. With his Thursday night touchdown this week already in the books, Brown now has a touchdown in all but one game this year, a seven-game touchdown streak currently ongoing, and 10 touchdowns overall on the year. Brown looks primed to be a first-round fantasy pick yet again next year and shows no signs of slowing down.

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