The Ten-Zone is a Fantasy Football Gold Mine

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Anyone even remotely familiar with football knows that the red zone is where all of the magic happens.  The NFL RedZone is so important to the game that it even has its own channel dedicated to it.  If plays inside the 20-yard line are good, it stands to reason that plays inside the 10-yard line are even better.  But how much better?

Top Ten-Zone Performers

The first thing we need to do is figure out which players are receiving these ten zone targets so that we can track efficiencies and fantasy output for these plays.  Here are the top 10 in terms of ten-zone activity for 2017.

Player Ten Zone Targets Receptions TDs Season Long Rank
Jimmy Graham 16 8 8 TE #6
Keenan Allen 15 7 4 WR #3
Jarvis Landry 14 11 9 WR #6
Julio Jones 11 4 1 WR #7
Michael Crabtree 11 5 5 WR #30
Antonio Brown 10 7 6 WR #1
Dez Bryant 10 4 3 WR #24
DeAndre Hopkins 10 7 7 WR #2
Antonio Gates 10 3 3 TE #28
Rob Gronkowski 9 4 4 TE #2

As you can see ten-zone targets do not guarantee success, but it is nearly impossible to finish among the top pass catchers without them.  There are only 7 WRs on the list above, but together they represent 5 of the top 7 WRs in fantasy scoring.  Only Michael Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald were able to crack the top 7 without being top 10 in ten-zone targets, and this was mostly because they both had 100+ reception seasons.

The second thing you may notice is the scarcity of these targets in 2017.  Only 9 players finished with double-digit targets inside the 10.  This means they are very high on the supply and demand scale making them immensely valuable.  In fact, this number is down 64% from 2013 and represents the fewest amount of players to reach this milestone since 2005.

Lastly, it is worth pointing out that despite the difficulty of achieving this double-digit threshold, every player listed above has reached that mark at least twice with the exception of Crabtree and Hopkins.  This means that you can target these players in your draft because either their talent level or roles with their respective teams make them more likely to repeat their performances.  So, now that we know who to target, what are we getting in return?

Fantasy Production

You may be thinking that this article is just common sense.  The closer to the end zone you get the more fantasy points you score.  However, the actual points per target numbers are staggering once the field gets shorter.  Let’s look again at the list of players above.  If you combine all of their targets and fantasy points regardless of where they occurred on the field you get 1.74 fantasy points per target.  An impressive number considering they combined for 1,291 targets.  That’s a lot of fantasy points.  Trust me, I did the math.

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Not surprisingly, this number slumps to 1.61 points per target when they occur outside of the red zone.  What may be surprising is that targets between the opponent’s 20 and 10-yard line yield even fewer points.  All the way down to 1.26!  Could it be that red zone targets are actually less valuable than regular targets?  This data seems to indicate that they are.  This depression in fantasy scoring can be attributed to tighter coverage as the field shrinks and passing windows get tighter. It also makes the next thing I’m about to say border on magical.  When targeted inside the 10-yard line, when coverage is even tighter, these players scored 3.32 fantasy points per target (6.41 points/reception)! This means that a ten-zone target is more than 2.5 times more valuable than a red zone target that comes between the 20 and the 10.

So next time you see a stat that claims a player is valuable because they received “X” number of targets in the red zone, do yourself a favor, dig a little deeper, do your own data mining and strike that ten-zone gold.