I consider myself a man of the people, so when the inquiring minds
of the fantasy community ask for something, I try my best to deliver.
A d v e r t i s e m e n t
One of the most well-received preseason pieces I do each summer
is the Red Zone Report.
For those unfamiliar with it, I do a team-by-team breakdown of
each team’s activity from the previous season and try to
provide some insight into how it affects the upcoming season.
Last week, I was asked to do a midseason version of it and it
makes perfect sense to do so. While I can’t use the same
32-team format that I do for the preseason piece due to the regular-season
time crunch, doing a version that gives owners an idea where quarterbacks,
running backs, wide receivers and tight ends stands in relation
to his peers at the position isn’t nearly as time consuming
(and is probably more digestible anyway).
Here is the key to all the abbreviations you will see in the
Att – Pass Attempts
Cmp – Completions
PaTD – Pass TD
PaTD % - The rate at which a red-zone
pass attempt resulted in a red-zone touchdown pass
RuAtt – Rush Attempt
RuAtt % - The percentage of red-zone
carries a player had for his team (For example, Andre Ellington
secured 14 of Arizona’s 52 red-zone carries, meaning he
had 14.3% of his team’s red-zone rushing attempts.)
RuTD – Rush TD
RuTD % - The rate at which a red-zone
rush attempt resulted in a red-zone touchdown run
Tar – Red-zone targets
Tar % - The percentage of red-zone
targets a player had for his team (For example, Larry Fitzgerald
secured 24 of Arizona’s 68 red-zone passing attempts, meaning
he had 34.3% of his team’s red-zone targets.)
Rec – Red-zone receptions
ReTD – Receiving TD
ReTD% - The rate at which a red-zone
reception resulted in a red-zone touchdown reception
|**** Sorted by attempts, then by QB
| RBs | WRs
Coaches, general managers and fans of baseball often compartmentalize
hurlers into one of two very broad categories: throwers and pitchers.
I think it is a significant point to make here because as the field
shrinks in football, the ability to anticipate and throw into tight
windows becomes much more important that “gunning it in there”.
If you sort this position by completion percentage and simply look
at the players with at least 20 red-zone attempts, it is fascinating
to see how few players with “rocket arms” are completing above or
around 60 percent of their throws. Granted, their team’s offensive
philosophy plays a big role in that final number, but it is still
quite telling that players such as Carson
Cutler and Joe
Flacco all find themselves at 53.3 percent or lower (with most
of them having at least one very good red-zone threat at their disposal).
How much has the Pittsburgh changed its offensive philosophy?
While I get the fact his team has yet to go on its bye, it is
telling that Ben Roethlisberger trails only Peyton Manning in
red-zone attempts despite the fact that Martavis Bryant –
the big receiver the Steelers’ quarterback has asked for
seemingly since Plaxico Burress left the “Steel City”
the first time – did not become a major part of the offensive
attack until three weeks ago. Pittsburgh hasn’t scored a
rushing touchdown since Week 3, but one has to wonder if the Steelers
don’t use upcoming plus-matchups in the running game against
Tennessee, New Orleans, Cincinnati and Atlanta – especially
considering the weather could be a factor in three of those games
– to lower their reliance on Roethlisberger’s arm.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the top 10-15 quarterbacks is
that Ryan Tannehill has attempted as many red-zone passes as Andrew
Luck. Since they just happen to be paired together above, take
a moment to compare how close the two are to each other in the
red zone. It is stunning to me that someone with Tannehill’s
athletic ability (he played receiver at times at a high level
in college at Texas A&M) has been asked to carry the ball
only twice inside the 20 in a Chip Kelly-style offense while Luck
has the same number of red-zone rush attempts as Colin Kaepernick.
Although I’m not a big fan of Tannehill the rest of the
way due to his schedule and last week’s loss of LT Branden
Albert, it does bode well for 2015 and beyond.
The biggest shock at the position might be which regular starters
at quarterback have been the most efficient (in terms of PaTD).
If you guessed Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom
Brady and/or Luck, you would be wrong. Instead, the honors belong
to Matt Ryan, Derek Carr and Tony Romo. As the signal-caller for
one of the most-balanced offensive attacks this season, I can
easily make a case that Romo’s low number of attempts plus
the presence of Dez Bryant allows him to be highly efficient,
but that logic certainly does not apply to the other two quarterbacks.
Like Romo, a low number of attempts can boost the PaTD rate when
a quarterback finds the end zone, but Atlanta and Oakland certainly
don’t possess the ground game to threaten defenses inside
the 20 like the Cowboys do. My best guess is that roughly 70 percent
of both players’ success (Ryan and Carr) is coming in late-game
or garbage-time situations, which would explain both the low number
of attempts and high efficiency. That rationale would also explain
why quarterbacks like Zach Mettenberger and Josh McCown have such
high PaTD percentages as well, although their “success”
is also likely helped by a smaller sample size as well.
QBs | RBs
| WRs | TEs
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Doug Orth has written for FF Today
since 2006 and has been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football
Preview magazine since 2010. He has hosted USA Today’s hour-long,
pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday over the
past two seasons and appears as a guest analyst before and during
the season on Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive” as well
as 106.7 The Fan (WJFK – Washington, D.C). Doug is also a
member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.