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High-Value Touch Report: Week 1 Red Zone & Goal-To-Go Data

Crack open your favorite snack or beverage because the 2022 fantasy football data has arrived. Interestingly, two games went into overtime, and one resulted in a tie in Week 1. According to TruMedia, we’ve only had seven games into overtime and two contests that tied in Week 1 since 2015. We’ll look at high-value opportunities and touches in the red zone and goal-to-go situations. These will be small samples to begin the season, and we’ll have more actionable takeaways with more information. For fun, I’ll also touch on third and fourth down for backs, receivers, and tight ends. After an exciting Monday Night Football game, I included a few high-value nuggets from the Seahawks’ upset win. 

High-Value Rushes: Red Zone

Through Sunday’s games, the leaders in high-value rushes in the red zone include Jonathan Taylor and Jamaal Williams, tied for first with six each. Saquon Barkley crushed the skeptics in Week 1, with 24 touches (18 carries, six receptions) and 194 total yards with a score. Barkley came in third, with predictable names in the top-12 seen below. 

High-Value Red Zone Rushes

The Browns used Kareem Hunt four times as a high-value rusher with Nick Chubb at two carries in the red zone. A few other notable backs include Cordarrelle Patterson (3), Jeff Wilson (3), Miles Sanders (3), and Khalil Herbert (3). Meanwhile, David Montgomery garnered zero (yes, zero) rushes in the red zone in Week 1.

With Elijah Mitchell leaving with a knee injury, possibly due to the inclement conditions, Wilson might warrant attention via waivers. However, Deebo Samuel posted eight carries for 52 rushing yards and a score, with three high-value rushes in the red zone. We’ll look at touches inside the 10-yard line since we could find potential buy low or fade candidates with more data.

High-Value Touches: Goal-To-Go Situations

Jamaal Williams led all players with 12 rushing yards and four attempts in goal-to-go situations. Cordarrelle Patterson finished second with ten rushing yards. Jalen Hurts rushed three times for seven yards and a touchdown, with Josh Allen having two carries, six yards, and one touchdown. Elijah Mitchell expects to miss eight weeks, so Jeff Wilson and Deebo Samuel garnering two rushes each inside the ten-yard line might be a signal. Although they didn’t factor into the high-value touch data, third-round rookie Tyrion Davis-Price or undrafted rookie Jordan Mason could factor in too.  

High-Value Receivers: Red Zone

We’ll look deeper into the high-value receiver opportunities, which include routes and targets. The top receiver with the most targets in the red zone comes with some noise and validation. Ja’Marr Chase garnered six targets and 14 routes inside the 20-yard line, with only one route and zero targets during overtime. Unfortunately, with the concussion for Tee Higgins, the receiving opportunities funneled to Chase, though Joe Burrow struggled with four picks. Furthermore, three Bengals led the league in red zone routes – Chase, Mike Thomas, and Hayden Hurst, aligning with the potential signal or noise.

High-Value Red Zone Receivers

The Jaguars have some interesting notes, with Evan Engram, Marvin Jones, Christian Kirk, and Zay Jones posting double-digit routes. However, Kirk and Zay Jones garnered three targets each, with Engram and Marvin Jones with zero. Again, we’re dealing with small samples in Week 1, but Kirk and Zay Jones might be preferred options in the red area. Another notable receiver tied for the second-most targets includes Mecole Hardman (3) with a receiving touchdown. The Chiefs’ offense clicked as they crushed the Cardinals 44 to 21.

Michael Thomas is back, baby, or so it seems. Thomas ran three routes and caught both targets in the red zone for two touchdowns. Don’t expect that level of efficiency. However, it looked positive for managers with Thomas since he ran 33 routes (No. 42) with a 25% target share (No. 23). Monitor Thomas’s high-value touches and opportunities since he might be more volatile with Jameis Winston at quarterback.

We noted it earlier, but you probably couldn’t guess the top three tight ends with routes run in the red zone. Hurst, Engram, and Kelce remained the only ones with double-digit routes. Meanwhile, Gerald Everett and Zach Ertz didn’t run many routes, but they tied for first with two targets. Thankfully, Everett and Ertz each caught a touchdown on those high-value opportunities in the red zone.

Third & Fourth Down Opportunities – Running Backs

On third or fourth down, with longer distances to go, we typically find more passing opportunities for backs, receivers, and tight ends. For now, we’ll look at third and fourth down without considering the distance to first. Since the rushing attempts remain low on third or fourth down, let’s look at the top backs in targets. Chase Edmonds ranked first with four targets and caught all of them for 40 receiving yards. 

high-value

Jonathan Taylor ranked second with three targets, with Nyheim Hines at one, though it’s a tiny Week 1 sample. A few others backs that warrant interest include Kareem Hunt (3), David Montgomery (2), Dontrell Hilliard (2), and Red Burkhead (2) on third or fourth down. Hilliard and Burkhead seemed like an afterthought, but maybe they’ll garner more work on passing downs than anticipated. As Josh Larky mentioned in his player archetypes article, we want backs who earn targets and red zone work. Ideally, we have both, but having either is preferred. 

While we don’t have many backs with targets in goal-to-go situations, Damien Harris and Travis Etienne tied for two targets. Harris is odd, but Etienne already boasted the pass-catching ability with the high-value opportunities as a bonus. In these situations, a few receivers make sense in Chase, Davante Adams, and A.J. Brown. However, Garrett Wilson’s three targets and Mecole Hardman with two cause us to pay closer attention. 

Third & Fourth Down Opportunities – WR/TE

Unsurprisingly, Chase led with six targets on third and fourth down, and zero came in overtime. Here’s where the list turns juicy, with Donovan Peoples-Jones (5), Brandin Cooks (5), and Zay Jones (5) tied for second. The other receives tied for five targets on third and fourth down include elite players like Cooper Kupp, A.J. Brown, CeeDee Lamb, and Justin Jefferson. 

Since Zay Jones popped up twice in this article, it might mean something for the Jaguars receivers. Peoples-Jones serves as a deep sleeper coming into 2021 and 2022, so monitor his usage on third and fourth down moving forward. When watching the Giants and Titans game, Richie James kept popping up. And maybe for good reason since James tied for ninth with four targets on third and fourth down. While I don’t expect James to stick around, he might be more frustrating for the Giants’ pass-catchers. 

Two other receivers tied with James worth mentioning include D.J. Chark and Noah Brown, who could warrant deep league interest in a flex spot. Chark might have more relevancy, especially since Dak Prescott might miss several weeks with hand surgery. Speaking of the Cowboys, Dalton Schultz led all tight ends with 19 routes on third and fourth down, though they trailed nearly the entire game. Unsurprisingly, Schultz finished first with five targets, with a handful of players tying for second. 

Tyler Higbee, Hayden Hurst, Tyler Conklin (say what), Pat Freiermuth, and the preseason darling in Isaiah Likely tied for second with three targets on third and fourth down. Higbee, Hurst, and Freiermuth remain the most intriguing options, with Conklin and Likely being only relevant in deep leagues. 

Monday Night Football – High-Value Touches

Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams tied with two receptions each in the red zone, with Williams having the edge in targets (3 to 2). Jerry Jeudy remained the only other pass-catcher with more than one target in the red area for the Broncos, with Courtland Sutton at one. While not relevant to the high-value opportunity topic, Williams tied for No. 24 with 12 or more targets in a game since 2018 per TruMedia. The last Broncos back to hit double-digit targets was Royce Freeman in Week 17 in 2018 with ten. 

Meanwhile, the Broncos ran ten plays in goal-to-go situations, with the Seahawks having zero. Gordon recorded three high-value touches (two carries, one reception), and Willams had one rushing attempt. Williams stood out on third and fourth down since he had four targets, tying with Chase Edmonds for the Week 1 lead. In the third and fourth quarters, Williams boasted a league-leading eight targets in Week 1, ahead of Joe Mixon (7) and Breece Hall. That indicates the Broncos plan to use Williams in more than an early-down role since they leaned on him when trailing against the Seahawks. 

The Seahawks didn’t run many plays in the red zone with four total versus the Broncos with ten. Geno Smith accounted for two passes and one carry, plus Rashaad Penny garnered one carry and one target. That might be more common throughout the season, with fewer high-value touches in the red zone and goal-to-go situations than we would like. In 2021, Penny recorded 17 plays in the red area (No. 52), with 16 coming as rushing attempts. From Week 13 to 18 last year, 13 of Penny’s rushing attempts came in the red zone. In goal-to-go situations, Penny finished with five carries (No. 19) from Week 13 to 18. That aligns with the high-value opportunity concerns for Penny for 2022.

WATCH MORE: Greg Jennings on How a Run-First Offense Impacts Wide Receivers

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