Red Zone Carries + Targets: Week 13 Preview

Erik Smith looks at week 13's red zone usage projections, including Spencer Ware's prospects after the release of Kareem Hunt, and Eric Ebron after the Jack Doyle injury.

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Week 13 sees bye weeks come to an end for the remainder of the 2018 season, fantasy owners rejoice! Dut to the timing of this article, players in the Saints vs. Cowboys Thursday night game will be excluded from this analysis. 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 as always 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 13 Red Zone Projections: RB Top 10 Carries+Targets

Player Proj C+T Proj RZ Pts
Todd Gurley 9.0 16.4
Kareem Hunt 5.0 10.9
Christian McCaffrey 4.9 8.9
James Conner 3.9 7.5
Saquon Barkley 3.7 5.7
James White 3.4 7.9
Lamar Miller 2.9 2.6
Sony Michel 2.8 3.1
Peyton Barber 2.6 3.2
Tevin Coleman 2.4 4.7

Noteworthy Week 13 RBs

Christian McCaffrey

I usually skip over obvious starts since you don’t need me to tell you to start them, but I can’t ignore what RB Christian McCaffrey did last week. On his way to 46.7 PPR points against the Seahawks in week 12, McCaffrey saw an outrageous 10 red zone rushing attempts, 4 red zone targets, 2 red zone touchdowns, and 42 all-purpose red zone yards. Last weeks 14 red zone carries+targets make up 33% of his yearly total, and after a slow start to the year scoring touchdowns, it’s safe to say that McCaffrey has overcome the one flaw on his fantasy resume, making him an elite running back in every type of fantasy league imaginable. A matchup against Tampa Bay this week should have his fantasy owners giddy.

Spencer Ware

With the late news of RB Kareem Hunt being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List and then released by the Chiefs, RB Spencer Ware inherits a massive red zone workload this week in Oakland. I left Hunt in the top 10 projections just to show the workload that Ware is inheriting. Ware could see only half of the red zone carries+targets that Hunt has received and still crack the top 10, in part because of a dream matchup against the Raiders. The Chiefs are projected for a league-high 35 points and are favored by 14, setting up Ware to hit the ground running in his first start. While he isn’t the same player that Hunt is, Ware will be a top end touchdown threat going forward. There isn’t much else to analyze here. However this situation shakes out for the remainder of the year, Chiefs running backs will be valuable commodities.


Week 13 Red Zone Projections: WR Top 10 Carries+Targets

Player Proj C+T Proj RZ Pts
Davante Adams 2.6 8.4
JuJu Smith-Schuster 2.4 3.3
Brandin Cooks 1.9 5.0
DeAndre Hopkins 1.9 6.1
Antonio Brown 1.7 2.6
Odell Beckham 1.6 2.8
Tyreek Hill 1.5 6.1
Adam Thielen 1.4 4.4
Robert Woods 1.4 3.2
Jarvis Landry 1.3 1.9

Noteworthy Week 13 WRs

Josh Reynolds

With the ACL injury to WR Cooper Kupp in week 10, the Rams lost their biggest red zone threat outside of RB Todd Gurley. WR Josh Reynolds has filled in admirably, seeing six total red zone carries+targets in the two games Kupp has missed (weeks 8 and 11), producing three touchdowns on those opportunities. If this usage continues, he will quickly vault up the wide receiver rankings, as that is elite red zone usage for a wide receiver. And it doesn’t take much in the Rams offense to become a red zone threat with the frequency that they visit the red zone. WR Brandin Cooks and WR Robert Woods routinely project in the top 10 in red zone usage despite a pedestrian 10% and 7% of the Rams red zone carries+targets, respectively. Reynolds seems to be filling the Kupp red zone role, making him a weekly starter in most leagues, and a solid option in daily fantasy.

Emmanuel Sanders

WR Emmanuel Sanders has been boom or bust in his red zone usage this year, with 9 of his 11 red zone carries+targets coming in just two weeks, while only seeing two red zone opportunities across his other nine games. Sanders saw five red zone targets last week against the Steelers, and a week 13 matchup against a Bengals defense getting destroyed on a weekly basis sets him up for an excellent chance at a touchdown. If Sanders can continue this red zone momentum, he projects as a solid wide receiver option with a solid floor from his bankable receptions, as well as solid upside from his touchdown potential. With the trade of WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Courtland Sutton having not seen a red zone target since October 7, and the injury to TE Jeff Heuerman, Sanders may have the red zone passing work to himself.


Week 13 Red Zone Projections: TE Top 10 Carries+Targets

Player Proj C+T Proj RZ Pts
Travis Kelce 2.4 7.6
Eric Ebron 2.0 8.0
Zach Ertz 1.8 5.5
Austin Hooper 1.1 3.1
Trey Burton 1.0 3.4
Gerald Everett 1.0 2.5
Kyle Rudolph 1.0 1.8
Jared Cook 1.0 2.8
Jimmy Graham 0.9 2.2
George Kittle 0.8 1.7

Noteworthy Week 13 TEs

Eric Ebron

Last week I went over TE Eric Ebron‘s struggles with TE Jack Doyle in the lineup but advised readers to hold him in case of an injury or a role change. Well, that didn’t take long, as Doyle is now out for the year, and Ebron is a locked in every week TE1 for the rest of the year. Ebron’s 20 red zone carries+targets leads all tight ends and would rank him third this week at wide receiver, tied with WR Odell Beckham. QB Andrew Luck and coach Frank Reich love feeding the tight end position, and Ebron will be the beneficiary.

Rob Gronkowski

TE Rob Gronkowski saw three red zone targets last week in his return to the lineup, topping his two target total for the year coming into the game. While Gronk did not catch any of those three passes, this is at least a light at the end of the tunnel for fantasy owners. Gronk also added a touchdown from outside the red zone, his first touchdown since week one. He’s not the player that fantasy owners were hoping for when they drafted him, but a dependable red zone presence would make him a weekly asset in a sub-par tight end position.


Red Zone GIF of the Week

In a matchup of two teams headed in different directions, the Browns bowled over the Bengals and their defense, epitomized by this touchdown by TE David Njoku. Target this Bengals defense at every fantasy position going forward until they show they are not a team in a tailspin. And with QB Baker Mayfield looking impressive with his new coaching staff, the Browns are full of fantasy-friendly players. It’s amazing what a difference coaching can make.

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