Welcome to Reservations For Six where everyday the specials are touchdowns. Party of five, no problem. Come in, sit down and let’s talk about six point plays. And don’t forget to tip your server. Touchdowns are the cherry on top of your Sunday fun day. The icing on the cake. And sometimes a touchdown is the only thing that can salvage a shitty stat line. When your receiver only has two receptions for 20 yards with only a few minutes to go and he reels in a 12-yard touchdown you are able to breathe a little easier. Instead of just 4 points in your PPR league, you now have 12.2 and are that much closer to a win or further from a loss if you’re the glass half empty kind. But touchdowns just don’t grow on trees. If they did, I have at least one in my backyard right next to my row of money trees. Unfortunately I have neither. Receiving touchdowns begin with targets. If the ball’s not thrown to you, then you can’t catch it. And if you can’t catch it, you can’t score a touchdown. At least not without a comedy of errors and a handful of luck. Let’s take a look what’s going on inside the red zone when the ball is thrown. Who’s being targeted? How do those targets translate to touchdowns? Who’s making the most of their red zone targets? How about the least?
I have discovered two sources of data with respect to red zone targets. One which includes plays that ended in penalties and thus rendering the intended target an unofficial target in the statisticians book, and one which ignores such plays. For completeness, I will include both. After all, intent is nine tenths of the law. Or something like that. But honestly, I find it useful to be aware of those extra few targets that the official stats do not show.
I’m sure it does not come as any surprise to find out that DeAndre Hopkins leads all pass catchers with 19 red zone targets. After Hopkins is Julian Edelman with 16. However, if we discount attempts that were nullified by penalties, Hopkins has only 12 targets and Edelman 14. The official red zone target leader is actually Anquan Boldin with 15. Then comes Rob Gronkowski and Edelman with 14, followed by Jarvis Landry (13).
Here is a list of players and their official (and unofficial) red zone targets.
Julian Edelman 14 (16)
Rob Gronkowski 14 (14)
Jarvis Landry 13 (14)
DeAndre Hopkins 12 (19)
Julio Jones 12 (13)
A.J. Green 11 (14)
T.Y. Hilton 11 (13)
Odell Beckham 10 (13)
Greg Olsen 9 (12)
Calvin Johnson 9 (12)
Heath Miller 9 (12)
Steve Smith 9 (12)
Brandon Marshall 9 (11)
Larry Fitzgerald 9 (10)
Randall Cobb 9 (10)
Vincent Jackson 9 (10)
Tyler Eifert 9 (9)
Eric Decker 9 (9)
Gary Barnidge 8 (10)
Terrance Williams 8 (10)
Jordan Cameron 8 (9)
Charcandrick West 8 (9)
Allen Robinson 8 (8)
Antonio Brown 8 (8)
Devonta Freeman 8 (8)
Coby Fleener 8 (8)
Larry Donnell 8 (8)
Matt Forte 8 (8)
Eddie Royal 8 (8)
Marvin Jones 8 (7)
Okay, so what are these players doing with their opportunities to score points? Let’s start by examining the players with the most targets. Anquan Boldin “the beautiful” has 15 red zone targets. He caught 6 of them, two of which were touchdowns for a reception rate of 40% and a touchdown rate of 13.33%. Julian Edelman has 9 receptions (64.29%) on 14 targets with 4 touchdowns (28.57%). Gronkowski has 8 catches on his 14 targets (57.14%), also with 5 touchdowns (35.71%). Edelman has one more catch, but Gronk has one more touchdown. Coming from a tight end, Gronk’s numbers are more impressive.
Using six targets as the minimum (just under one per game), here’s what I found. Chris Thompson has 6 red zone targets. He caught all 6 of them, but only one of them was for a touchdown. He’s the only player with at least 6 targets to have a 100% completion rate. Larry Fitzgerald has 6 red zone touchdowns on 9 targets (66.67%). Seven catches and all but one was a touchdown! Odell Beckham Jr. has 10 targets, 7 receptions (70%) and 4 scores (40%). If I were Abe Lincoln that last sentence might have gone something like “four scores and seven receptions ago…”
|Player||Team Tgt||Team %||Tgt||Rec||Rec/Tgt %||TD||TD/Tgt %||TD/Rec %|
Tyler Eifert is a red zone machine. On 13 targets he has 10 catches. Nine of those ten catches have been for touchdowns. From the Red Rifle to the red zone and Eifert-lessly into Tyler’s hands.
Here are some other takeaways from the the above chart. I’m sure there are more, but this is what you get.
- Every time Allen Robinson, Gary Barnidge, Tavon Austin, Kyle Rudolph, Owen Daniels, Antonio Gates or Nate Washington has caught the ball on a red zone target, it has resulted in a touchdown
- Coby Fleener is the tight end to own in Indy
- Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins have identical red zone stats
- Devonta Freeman leads all RB in red zone targets (8)
- Freeman and Chris Thompson are tied for the lead in red zone receptions (6)
- Anquan Boldin is inefficient in the red zone. So is A.J. Green
- Jarvis Landry (7.69) and T.Y. Hilton (9.09) have the lowest target to touchdown ratio greater than zero
- Landry also has the lowest (14.29) reception to touchdown ratio
- Charcandrick West better rely on his legs to get him into the promise land
One player not on the above list I’d like to mention is Eric Ebron. He has 3 red zone targets, 3 red zone receptions and 3 red zone touchdowns. Maybe Matthew Stafford should look his way a bit more often moving forward. What does he have to lose? Another player worth mentioning is Marcel Reece. With 4 targets he has 4 catches and 3 touchdowns. Those three scores lead all running backs inside the red zone.
While we’re inside the red zone, let’s take a closer look inside the ten yard line and see how that changes things.
Here are my observations:
- Julio Jones (9) and Larry Fitzgerald (8) have the most targets inside the ten yard line
- When targeted in the red zone Jaron Brown, DeMarco Murray, Rashad Greene and DeVante Parker are only targeted when inside the ten yard line. Parker caught zero of those targets.
- When targeted inside the ten, Marcel Reece, Jamaal Charles and Jordan Matthews have caught the ball 100% of the time
- Anthony Fasano, Jermaine Gresham, Michael Crabtree, Terrence Williams and Mike Evans have not caught one ball thrown to them inside the ten
Well, that concludes today’s main course. Next we will tackle red zone and goal line carries. Until then, here is a spreadsheet containing today’s stats. (Excel Spreadsheet.)
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