The importance of RB red-zone attempts cannot be underestimated when it comes to fantasy football scoring. The most crucial red-zone carries and targets for the fantasy value of RBs actually come inside the 5-yard line. Therefore, in this article, we are going to look at how things are trending in terms of RB goal-line attempts and what it means for fantasy managers.
Initially, we will look at goal-line attempts from last week, and then we will put that into the wider context of the recent weeks and the season at large. Using this approach, we are trying to identify some potential starting options or value opportunities for Underdog Fantasy in Week 10 as we deal with another four teams on a bye this week.
RB Red-Zone Attempts From Last Week
Our focus here will be on carries in and around the goal line. Specifically, we will be looking at RB red-zone attempts from inside the 5-yard line, as these carries produce the biggest average return in terms of fantasy points per rushing attempt. For the full breakdown of the math involved, check out the section at the bottom of the article.
In Week 9, there were 41 rushes that originated inside the 5-yard line. On those rushes, 20 touchdowns were scored with 46 yards gained. Six of those rushing attempts were handled by three different quarterbacks, Joe Burrow (3), Jalen Hurts (2), and Josh Allen (1). We also had one goal-line attempt handled by a WR, Greg Dortch (Arizona), leaving 34 in the hands of RBs this week.
Let’s take a look at the RBs to have two or more rushing attempts inside the 5-yard line in Week 9 and put it into the context of the rest of the season.
- Three carries
- Derrick Henry, TEN
- Joe Mixon, CIN
- Cordarrelle Patterson, ATL
- Kenneth Walker III, SEA
- Two carries
- Travis Etienne, JAX
- Kenyan Drake, BAL
- Miles Sanders, PHI
- Raheem Blackshear, CAR
- Jamaal Williams, DET
- AJ Dillon, GB
- Rhamondre Stevenson, NE
- Dalvin Cook, MIN
Henry and Mixon continue to dominate the goal-line carries for their team. No RB on either of those two rosters has seen a single carry inside the 5-yard line this season. Even when they have inefficient runs, their opportunities near the goal line should keep them fantasy-relevant on a weekly basis.
Patterson came straight back into handling the goal-line work for the Atlanta Falcons. The situation was the same prior to his injury, so it was good to see him drop straight back into the role. While we still have workload split concerns for the Falcons, this goal-line usage means Patterson is a regular starting option for fantasy managers.
Amazingly, the three goal-line carries this week for Walker were just the second, third, and fourth goal-line carries that the Seahawks have had this year. Walker has handled all four of them and found the end zone twice. He has established himself as a regular weekly starting option, and this only helps.
Etienne is now the clear goal-line back in Jacksonville. He has the last eight goal-line carries handled by backs. He had already taken the role before Robinson was traded but has cemented it since.
Drake benefitted from the absence of Gus Edwards. If Edwards remains absent into Week 11, then Drake would have a fantastic ceiling as the lead back and the player seeing the goal-line opportunities.
While Sanders further strengthened his grip on the goal-line work overall with two of the three attempts this week, it was frustrating to see Kenneth Gainwell get a chance. This was Gainwell’s first goal-line attempt since Week 1. It is frustrating because Sanders is already sharing goal-line duties with Hurts, so if Gainwell also starts to mix in, it would have a serious impact on his ceiling.
There is not a huge amount to take from Blackshear’s role this week, given that it came in the fourth quarter of a blowout game. The biggest threat to D’Onta Foreman’s goal-line dominance is the potential return of Chuba Hubbard this week or next.
Cook and Williams continue to monopolize the goal-line carries for their teams. Williams is the bigger story, as even with Swift returning, he has yet to lose a single goal-line carry this year. As long as he retains this role, he will continue to have fantasy value, even when Swift is playing in a less limited fashion.
There is positive and negative news in the Packers’ goal-line splits. The positive is that Dillon now leads the carries four to one over Aaron Jones. The less positive news is that the Packers have had just five goal-line carries all season, with four of them combined across Weeks 1 and 9. This goal-line work is not retaining Dillon’s fantasy value with the volume we have seen this year.
Stevenson has really cemented his position as the goal-line back in recent weeks. However, seven of his nine total goal-line attempts have come when Harris has either been absent or somewhat limited by injury. Stevenson is still a regular starting option, but when Harris gets back healthy, he could take away from Stevenson’s ceiling if he gets takes some of the goal-line work.
RB Goal-Line Passing Usage in Week 9 and the 2022 NFL Season
In Week 9, there were just two targets for RBs inside the 5-yard line, Austin Ekeler and Rhamondre Stevenson. If we extend it out to the 10-yard line to get a larger sample size, then we see seven RBs with targets in that region. Let’s take a look at the backs that saw those targets and what they mean in the wider context of their fantasy value.
Austin Ekeler, LAC: Ekeler has now seen seven targets inside the 10-yard line this season, with Zander Horvath the only other RB to have seen any usage in that region. Two of those seven targets have come inside the 5-yard line and both have resulted in touchdowns.
Rhamondre Stevenson, NE: This was Stevenson’s first target inside the 5- or 10-yard line this season. This is not an area you would expect him to continue being a major factor, especially when Harris is fully healthy, which will potentially come after the bye week.
Jeff Wilson, MIA: Wilson was thrown straight into the fire by the Dolphins, including seeing two of their four targets inside the 10-yard line. That is a role we have seen Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert split previously, so it is hard to trust that he will see this role going forward, but it does increase his value as a pick-up this week.
Leonard Fournette, TB: This was the first time this year that Fournette has been targeted inside the 10-yard line and not scored a touchdown. He continues to be the RB option who sees the most usage down in this area of the field, retaining his weekly value despite the extra work Rachaad White has been seeing.
James Robinson, NYJ: It is intriguing that Robinson got this work after Carter handled it all last week, but he had both of his targets end up as incompletions. Therefore, with Robinson scoring a touchdown this week, we could see him have a bigger role as a pass-catching goal-line option in the coming weeks.
Kenneth Gainwell, PHI: We continue to see that the Eagles do not target Sanders down near the goal line. Gainwell only has three such targets in eight weeks, so it doesn’t give him any major fantasy boost. However, it does impact the ceiling for Sanders that he continues to be overlooked in this role.
Raheem Blackshear, CAR: Even though this target was in the third quarter, it was still after the Panthers had sat a lot of starters in their blowout loss. Therefore, we cannot read too much into this at all at this stage.
What Is the Significance of Red-Zone and Goal-Line Carries for Fantasy?
Utilizing data going back to 2013 (including 2022), we can see where RBs find the most value in terms of fantasy points (fpts) per rushing attempt. The average value of a single rushing attempt anywhere on the field in that time span is 0.6 fpts.
However, as you would expect, we see a clear increase in value the closer we get to the goal line. Rushes between the 10- and 6-yard lines average 1.00 fpts per rush on average.
Meanwhile, from the 5-yard line inwards, we see a huge jump in value to 2.55 fpts per rushing attempt. That value continues to rise as we move closer to the goal, with rushes from the 1-yard line averaging 3.4 fpts per rush attempt.
However, the most significant jump in value comes when we move from the 10 to six region to the 5-yard line (+1.55 fpts per rush). Therefore, for this article, we will focus on rushes beginning from the opponents’ 5-yard line or closer.
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