Welcome to the Week 10 edition of Jason Bales’s “Red Zone Targets” article. Each week, he analyzes one leader in red zone rushes or targets that has a certain amount of untapped potential. In identifying these players, fantasy owners can delve further into their own research, bookmarking them for possible trade candidates in season-long fantasy football leagues, or tournament plays in daily fantasy football leagues.
Running Back Red Zone Targets Value:
David Johnson (ARI)
David Johnson is battling an injury, and the recent adjustments at the running back position for the Arizona Cardinals are troubling. Chase Edmonds looked great prior to his injury. The Cardinals signed Zach Zenner and Alfred Morris, but more notably, traded the Miami Dolphins for Kenyan Drake. Last week, Drake carried the ball 15 times for 110 yards and 1 touchdown. He also caught 4 passes for 52 yards. Cardinals fans are excited about his potential, but Johnson is back this week.
On the season, Johnson earned 14 red zone carries, which resulted in 30 yards and 2 touchdowns. It is unlikely that Drake continues to see the amount of volume he did with both Edmonds and Johnson sidelined last week. He will poach a few carries outside the 20-yard line, but inside the red zone, Johnson should see a majority of the carries, increasing his overall upside.
This week, the Cardinals get a good matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Johnson will go under-owned because of Drake’s hot spot start against the San Francisco 49ers. Johnson makes for a great, high-upside option in deep daily fantasy tournaments, as his touchdown potential is higher than most fantasy owners think.
Wide Receiver Red Zone Targets Value:
Julian Edelman (NE)
Julian Edelman feels like the lone survivor in the New England Patriots’ wide receiver core. Of course, Phillip Dorsett is still active, and the recent trade for Mohamed Sanu is working in Bill Belichick’s favor. N’Keal Harry could contribute down the stretch, as well. However, with the loss of both Antonio Browns and Josh Gordon, the Patriots are relying heavily on Edelman and James White to fill the void in the red zone.
On the season, Tom Brady targeted Edelman 18 times in the red zone, completing 13 of those pass attempts for 84 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception. His quarterback rating is slightly under 100, which is exactly why the Patriots favor Edelman inside the 20-yard line. In his last two games, Edelman has nine red zone targets. He will continue to accumulate targets for the remainder of the season, and he can be rostered in all leagues.
This week, the Patriots are resting with a bye week. Next week, the Philadelphia Eagles, a team with plenty of lackluster defensive backs, will have to defend the Brady-to-Edelman connection. Good luck, Doug Pederson.
Tight End Red Zone Targets Value:
Vance McDonald (PIT)
Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers battled a tough Indianapolis Colts’ defense, and Vance McDonald looked better than ever. He earned 4 red zone targets, which resulted in 3 receptions, 12 yards, and 1 touchdown. Outside the red zone, he earned 3 targets, catching 2 passes for 18 yards. The Steelers are committed to getting Nick Vannett on the field more frequently, but he will not invade McDonald’s red zone snap share.
This week, the Steelers get a tough matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, but McDonald is worth consideration in deeper daily fantasy tournaments. He is touchdown-dependent, but his frequent targets in the red zone make that dependency less worrisome. Mason Rudolph trusts McDonald, and why not? He has a quarterback rating over 120 when targeting him in the red zone. Against the Colts, McDonald doubled his red zone targets for the season, and it would not be surprising to see a similar effort to force him the ball near the end zone in Week 10.
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