Long has it been said in fantasy football that a red zone touch has more value than other touches, and you’d expect it to. In most (if not all) scoring settings a TD is given the same points as a 60-yard run.
But, how much more are we talking about? And is there anything we can take from looking at how individual players performed in the red zone?
Red Zone Touches Value: Determining Stats
The first thing to do is to define the red zone. In future articles, we might take a look at the value of other areas within the 20, but for right now we are just looking at anywhere in the 20-yard zone.
Then, in looking at what a player has done in the red zone, and comparing it to their entire offensive output. We can then determine the difference in scoring. So for example, the top 10 RBs (based on rush attempts) for 2019 looks like;
Red Zone Touches Value: Points Per Touch
The next step is to then look at the fantasy points that are scored from each touch. Then we can determine how much more valuable a touch is in the red zone in comparison to the rest of the field.
For this, I looked only at the top 32 rushing players (on rush attempts) to remove a lot of the players who would skew the result. That gave me this;
So in the modern game, the value of a red zone touch has increased year after year, and is worth around 3 times the value of a non-red zone touch.
Red Zone Touches Value: 2020 Outlook
But really, what does this matter? Going into it we knew the value that a red zone touch would be higher. However, what we can do is look at some players that are significantly above or below that line in 2019.
That should enable us to try and work out some players that could be inline to regress next season (where their ratio is far higher), or that could improve (where their ratio is far lower).
There are two players that immediately stand out- Aaron Jones and James Conner. Both of them scored more than five times the number of points in the red-zone as others. Their fantasy value, therefore, is completely dependent on them getting red zone touches. That means more instability in their scoring, and more likely a reduction in scoring as they have nearly double the average.
Interestingly though, Raheem Mostert had more points per touch in the red zone than any other, averaging half a touchdown each time he was handed the ball. That is equally going to be tough to sustain for the 2020 season.
Candidates to Improve
In initially doing this, the first name that stuck out to me was Saquon Barkley. Barkley had one of the lowest marks in scoring per red zone rushing touch, below one point. That is far too low for a player of his talent. With the New York Giants likely to be improved on offense, with another season for QB Daniel Jones, and better protection, he could repeat his impressive rookie season’s production.
Equally, Miles Sanders has been climbing draft boards in the offseason, as he is set to be the lead back for the Eagles. Sanders had an incredibly low average points per touch total, beaten only by Leonard Fournette in the top 24.
Red Zone Touches Value: Summary
I’m not saying that this is the be-all and end-all when it comes to drafting, and I’m certainly not saying that this is something that can be entirely relied upon. However, what I am saying is that it’s something to bare in mind. If a player is as effective in the red zone as they are outside, that is going to mean more stability for your team each week.
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Image Credit: NorthJersey.com – USA TODAY