Red Zone Carries + Targets: Week 12 Preview

Erik Smith previews week 12's red zone usage, including positive projections for T.Y. Hilton and Leonard Fournette.

(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

Week 12 sees the Rams and Chiefs on a bye, two of the league’s top red zone teams. This article will skip players on those teams, as well as players that already played on Thanksgiving (CHI, DET, WAS, DAL, ATL, NO). My week 12 leaders in red zone carries+targets are listed below. Projected carries+targets should be given more weight than projected points, as we ultimately want volume players in the red zone to give us more chances to overcome bad touchdown luck. 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 12 Red Zone Projections: RB Top 10 Carries+Targets

Player Proj C+T Proj RZ Pts
James Conner 4.0 7.7
James White 3.7 9.4
Melvin Gordon 3.7 9.1
Saquon Barkley 3.6 5.5
Christian McCaffrey 3.3 6.6
Alex Collins 3.0 7.1
Sony Michel 2.9 2.9
Lamar Miller 2.8 2.6
Marlon Mack 2.8 4.5
Peyton Barber 2.7 2.9

Noteworthy Week 12 RBs

Gus Edwards/Alex Collins

RB Alex Collins is projected to receive the sixth most red zone carries+targets this week, but that ranking doesn’t reflect the fact that RB Gus Edwards took over as the lead back in the Ravens’ victory last week. With last week being QB Lamar Jackson‘s first start, there are reasons to believe that this change is for real, as maybe Edwards is just a better fit with Jackson’s style of play. While Edwards dominated carries overall in week 11, the red zone usage is a bit murkier, as Edwards received two red zone carries and a touchdown, while Collins received three red zone carries and a touchdown. And that’s not to mention that Jackson might be the true red zone threat, as the rookie quarterback had five red zone carries last week to go along with his two passing attempts.

Figuring out this situation is especially important this week, as the Ravens host a Raiders team in disarray. Baltimore is favored by a huge 11 point margin, and are projected for the sixth most points in the league. This is a dream spot for a running game, and the high point total shows that Vegas isn’t worried about Jackson getting exposed in his second start. Make sure to follow the news leading up to the game, but Edwards looks like a solid fantasy starter this week, and even Collins could be a consideration as a touchdown-dependent flex if owners are desperate.

RB Javorius Allen was left out of the goalline work last week and only saw one red zone target the week before. RB Ty Montgomery also didn’t see any red zone week in his first game with the team last week and seems unlikely to be a factor in that part of the field. For as long as Jackson remains the starting quarterback, this looks like a fantasy-friendly running game. Let’s hope that this situation doesn’t evolve into a three or four-man committee.

Leonard Fournette

RB Leonard Fournette misses the top ten list because of his injuries this year, but Fournette has been a locked in red zone threat since his return. Over the last two weeks he has 9 red zone carries+targets for three touchdowns, and while his yards per carry numbers aren’t pretty, his volume and red zone usage is elite. Though the Bills defense hasn’t been awful against fantasy running backs this year, I expect their offense to turn the ball over plenty this week and provide the Jaguars with some short fields. Fournette should be in prime position to pick up at least one short red zone touchdown if not more, making him a great option this week.


Week 12 Red Zone Projections: WR Top 10 Carries+Targets

Player Proj C+T Proj RZ Pts
JuJu Smith-Schuster 2.2 3.3
Davante Adams 2.0 6.4
DeAndre Hopkins 1.9 6.1
Adam Thielen 1.7 4.8
T.Y. Hilton 1.7 5.0
Odell Beckham 1.7 3.1
Jarvis Landry 1.6 2.3
A.J. Green 1.5 3.8
Antonio Brown 1.5 2.6
Julian Edelman 1.4 3.2

Noteworthy Week 12 WRs

T.Y. Hilton

WR T.Y. Hilton has always been a big play threat and a top end fantasy wide receiver when healthy and playing with QB Andrew Luck. The big knock on Hilton was his boom or bust nature, as when his big plays didn’t hit he could be a bit underwhelming. The new coaching staff has changed that, however, as Hilton ranks second among this week’s receiving options with nine targets within ten yards of the end zone on the year. Hilton looks to be healthy and back to his big-play ways, as evidenced by his 68-yard touchdown last week. While Miami’s defense can pose troubles for fantasy wide receivers, they have recently allowed two touchdown games to WR DeAndre Hopkins and WR Davante Adams, two receivers with similar red zone usage to Hilton. In a game that Vegas projects for the Colts to score over 30 points, Hilton should have opportunities to score a close touchdown, and he is always a big play threat at home on the fast turf. Start him with confidence in all formats.

Tyler Boyd

WR Tyler Boyd has not seen a red zone target since week 8, which also happens to be the last game that WR A.J. Green played. Boyd’s last two games with Green playing resulted in three touchdowns on three red zone targets, while the two games without Green saw Boyd receive zero red zone targets. Green’s status is up in the air this week, so monitor this one up until kick off. But it would appear that Boyd’s chances of a touchdown would actually be increased with the return of Green.


Week 12 Red Zone Projections: TE Top 10 Carries+Targets

Player Proj C+T Proj RZ Pts
Eric Ebron 2.4 8.5
Zach Ertz 2.0 5.3
George Kittle 1.3 2.8
Kyle Rudolph 1.3 2.4
Jeff Heuerman 1.1 1.8
Antonio Gates 1.0 1.9
Jared Cook 0.8 1.9
Jimmy Graham 0.8 1.9
Jack Doyle 0.8 2.0
Cameron Brate 0.8 3.4

Noteworthy Week 12 TEs

Cameron Brate

This one is simple, as the injury to TE O.J. Howard opens up TE Cameron Brate to receive a full workload going forward. Brate shockingly shows up on the list regardless of the injury, highlighting the sorry state of tight end red zone usage this year. We were always an injury away from one of these tight ends becoming an every week starter, and unfortunately, Howard’s injury increases Brate’s value immensely. We will know more about Brate’s value after this week, but he is a startig caliber tight end in almost every league this week.

Eric Ebron

With the return of TE Jack Doyle, TE Eric Ebron has seen his red zone usage plummet, something that my projections don’t take into consideration. There is still some reason for hope, as Ebron has seen two red zone targets and a passing attempt over the three games since Doyle’s return. That usage alone would put him near the top 10 projections list with the sorry state of the tight end position. But Ebron’s zero target game last week certainly makes him a scary start for this week. I would look for other options, but stashing Ebron on your bench seems like a smart call for now. He is a Doyle injury away from regaining must-start status, and the Colts may still find a way to get Ebron the ball even with Doyle around.


Red Zone GIF of the Week

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WR Kenny Golladay turned in this beautiful catch in week 11 for the red zone GIF of the week. With WR Marvin Jones injured and WR Golden Tate traded, Golladay is now receiving elite overall usage. As evidenced by his five red zone targets over his last three games, his red zone usage is increasing as well. It will be interesting to see where Golladay goes in drafts next year, as I could see his draft stock hyped into the upper tier of fantasy wide receivers.

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