Wide Receivers' Red Zone Opportunities (PREMIUM PREVIEW)
Touchdowns are the most important stat in fantasy football. A lot of times, one TD is the difference between winning and losing in a given week. This is really basic stuff but really important to fantasy success. You want to draft players who are going to have plenty of chances to break the plane.
Earlier this week, we talked about red zone opportunities for running backs. We saw that players with the most chances to touch the ball from inside the 20-yard line scored the most touchdowns. Now we'll see that the same thing holds true for wide receivers.
For wideouts and tight ends, there's the added variable of having to catch the ball. They don't just have the ball handed to them. So the pertinent stats for these players are red zone targets and red zone catches. And, obviously, touchdowns. Additionally, you'll want to know how often a player's team opts to throw in the red zone.
Let's take a look at some of the most- and least-enticing red zone passing games and receivers in the NFL.
In 2012, the Cowboys were one of the NFL's most pass-happy teams in the red zone, opting to throw 65 percent of the time. Last year, they came back down to earth a little bit, throwing 55 percent off the time in the red zone. But with new offensive coordinator Scott Linehan calling the shots, don't be surprised to see a return to the air in Dallas' red zone strategy.
And if that happens, look out for Dez Bryant. Last season, he was the only wide receiver in the NFL to score double-digit red zone touchdowns. On 20 targets, he caught 13 balls for 10 scores. Bryant posted a touchdown conversion rate of 76.9 percent, and only Jimmy Graham had more receiving touchdowns in the red zone.
Bryant isn't one of the receivers who need broken coverage on a deep ball to get into the end zone. He goes up and gets the ball in short-yardage situations, and he does it extremely well. He has a good chance to repeat these numbers in 2014, and is a dark horse to finish No. 1 among fantasy WRs.
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