By Evan B (@evbro18)
Now that we have three games under wraps for the 2017 season, we can get a sense of how players are being utilized by their respective teams. While snap counts and targets are a great start, we need to dig deeper to find great values at the skill positions. Just like targets are the lifeblood of a receiver’s value in PPR leagues, red zone touches are the most relevant factor to consider for standard leagues.
In this article each week, we’ll identify red zone risers and fallers who could see their fantasy value impacted by usage in the most critical area of the field.
RotoBaller’s Red Zone Sleepers tool is a great way to get an edge on the competition by identifying players with greater scoring opportunities. Let’s take a look at which players could be touchdown risers or fallers in fantasy football for Week 4 of the 2017 NFL season, based on red zone opportunities.
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Red Zone Sleepers
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Red Zone Risers
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Quarterback Jared Goff has been a surprising breath of fresh air for the Los Angeles Rams and has really revamped their entire offensive prowess. Running back Todd Gurley has been a direct contributor and beneficiary of this high powered offense thus far. The Rams have posted 34 red zone plays in their first three games and Gurley accounts for almost 50% of touches during this time with 16. Gurley not only has been getting the touches, but he has found the endzone six times out of those 16 touches and leads the league. Needless to say, Gurley should be locked into your RB1 slot every week.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
Now we enter the “surprised” category; Carlos Hyde leads the league in red-zone percentage totalling 50% of San Francisco’s red-zone touches with 17 out of 34 plays. With Brian Hoyer at helm, it is definitely shocking that the 49ers have run that many plays inside the 20. He has only cashed in on 2 touchdowns thus far, but with this many touches one can expect Hyde’s touchdown numbers to continue to increase. Do not take him out of your lineup.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
Dez leads all wide receivers in red-zone percentage accounting for over 30% of his teams touches. Dez only has 11 catches this year so far, but 7 of those touches were red-zone catches and has scored 2 touchdowns thus far. Second year quarterback Dak Prescott will most certainly continue to look his way and you can expect that Dez’s numbers will continue to increase.
Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
With Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall on the team, it’s quite a surprise that Sterling is only second to Dez in red-zone percentage accounting for 6 touches and 30% of the Giants red-zone plays. While he has yet to score a red-zone touchdown this season, Shepard broke out with 7 catches for 133 yards and a long touchdown reception that was not considered a red-zone play. He also nearly came down with a red-zone touchdown, but could not follow-through on the end of the catch. Based on these stats, make sure you put him in your line-up in Week 4 against a Buccaneers team that got trounced by Vikings third quarterback, Case Keenum, in Week 3.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
It’s not a large surprise Kelce leads all tight ends with 20% of touches during Kansas City’s red-zone plays. Kelce has 4 catches out of the 20 plays and found pay-dirt one time thus far. Kelce is a TE1 for Week 4 and basically every week he plays.
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills
In a waiver wire post I made last week, my advice was to pick up Charles Clay. Here is why; he leads all tight ends with five red zone touches and danced into the end-zone for two touchdowns in three games so far this year. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor has found Charles Clay on 18.5% of the Buffalo Bills red-zone plays. If he still available in your league, pick him up and consider Charles a TE1 in Week 4 against Atlanta.
Red Zone Fallers
DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
Murray had a very bad first two games of the year with only 21 carries for 69 total yards before having 115 yards and a touchdown in Week 3. His red-zone numbers have been terrible with only two touches in 26 red-zone plays for the Tennessee Titans. That adds up to only 7.7% of red-zone play touches and no touchdowns posted. The reason for this is because Derrick Henry has been getting most of the touches with six out of 26 plays (23.1%) and 1 touchdown. With Murray’s red z one numbers the way they are, consider him a flex play in Week4 against a tough Texans squad. If you have a better WR option on your bench, you may want to consider starting them in your flex instead of Murray.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
Are you ready for some numbers that will completely shock you? The Denver Broncos have run 40 plays in the red-zone this season. Thomas has only one catch out of 40 red-zone plays which adds to only getting 2.5% of touches and zero touchdowns. So far this season Thomas ranks as a low end WR3 based on numbers and you can consider him as such against the Oakland Raiders in Week 4 until he proves he can get his red-zone touches up.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
While Graham appears in the last part of the “yellow” portion of this list, his red-zone numbers have been very low for someone of his stature. Graham has totaled only three red-zone catches out of 29 Seattle Seahawk plays (10.3%) and no touchdowns. However, Jimmy finally showed signs of life in Week 3 with a stellar seven-catch for 72 yard performance on 12 targets. It’s worth noting that he was dealing an ankle injury which may have slowed him down. Seahawks play the Indianapolis Colts at home in Week 4. If Graham his healthy, look for his numbers to improve and plug him into your lineup.
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