Fantasy Football

Week 3 fantasy red zone stats

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Michael Harmon

Mike is a fantasy contributor for>>

It was a wild and oftentimes confusing Week 3 in the NFL. As expected, points came in bunches, but often from unlikely sources. There were three overtime games, a few huge upsets and calls for the return of the officials turned profane on national television. Fans watched big hits produce frightening injuries, and the Sunday night game left fantasy owners either excited or despondent and everybody confused.

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Many of the would-be heroes at the quarterback position flopped miserably in Week 3. Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo and Michael Vick joined Cam Newton in the “Flop” column for Week 3. Cutler’s team won, but the Chicago offense was less than awe-inspiring against the Rams. Romo also claimed victory in a terrible showing against the Buccaneers.

What fills the thought bubble when I say the name, “Chris Johnson?”

Let’s put the negativity aside for a moment and try to find a few positives by putting the spotlight on the painted grass. It’s time to put out the “Red Zone Alerts” for Week 3.

Rushing Attempts

He didn’t do much with his opportunities, but Shonn Greene led all running backs with nine red zone carries against the Dolphins on Sunday. Greene produced just 15 yards for his efforts. He’s a huge SIT this week against the 49ers.

Ryan Mathews made his season debut in a terrible loss for the Chargers against the Falcons. Mathews amassed 76 total yards on 15 touches in Week 3 and reportedly finished the game without a setback. He carried the ball three times for 13 yards in the red zone, but lost a fumble at the four-yard line.

Reggie Bush departed Sunday’s game because of a knee injury. Prior to his departure, Bush ceded a goal-line touch to Daniel Thomas, who plowed forward for a touchdown against the Jets. Bush carried the ball twice in the red zone for nine yards. Thomas logged four carries for 15 yards with the touchdown romp. Thomas (19 carries for 69 yards) and rookie Lamar Miller (nine carries for 48 yards overall) will split the workload if Bush is forced to miss time. An MRI revealed no structural damage to Bush’s knee. As a result, there’s optimism that Bush will be available against the upstart Cardinals.

Michael Bush wasn’t dominant against the Rams in Chicago’s home win, but fantasy owners received their expected touchdown run after Jay Cutler audibled at the line of scrimmage. Bush finished the game with seven yards on four red zone carries. He logged 73 total yards on 20 carries in the win. The Bears are holding out hope that Matt Forte may return to the field on Monday night against the Cowboys.

Red Zone Targets

You can’t stop Heath Miller. You can only hope to contain me. Miller was dominant in the red zone against the Raiders in Week 3, producing three receptions on three targets (17 yards) with two touchdown grabs. He caught eight of his 10 targets for 60 yards in the Steelers’ loss. Miller has already romped in the painted grass four times in 2012.

He was challenged for tight end dominance in Week 3 by Kyle Rudolph of the Vikings. Rudolph caught all three of his targets for 14 yards with two touchdowns. Since the Vikings beat the 49ers, he rules the day. Rudolph caught five passes for 36 yards overall. He becomes mighty intriguing going forward as Christian Ponder settles into this offense. Rudolph has caught 13 passes for 138 yards with three touchdowns overall.

Nate Burleson caught all three of his red zone targets for 13 yards with a touchdown. He also added a two-point conversion. Burleson caught 10 passes for 69 in the shootout loss to the Titans.

Greg Olsen was one of the few bright spots in the Panthers’ blowout loss to the Giants. He didn’t afford fantasy owners any love, producing zero catches on three red zone targets.

Atlanta receiver Julio Jones didn’t post a huge game in Week 3 (five receptions for 67 yards), but he did find the end zone early for fantasy owners. Jones caught both of his red zone targets for 12 yards with a touchdown, his third of the season. He’ll be sprinting in the open field often in Week 4 against the Panthers.

Denarius Moore was the preferred choice of Carson Palmer in the red zone. He caught each of his three red zone targets for 15 yards, including a touchdown grab. Moore was targeted 11 times overall, producing five receptions for 45 yards. He’ll retain a large role this week against the Broncos with Darrius Heyward-Bey sidelined because of an injury sustained against the Steelers.

Red Zone Passing

Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer was nearly perfect in the red zone against the vaunted Pittsburgh defense. Palmer completed 7-of-8 red zone attempts for 34 yards with three touchdowns. He passed for only 209 yards on the day, but his efficiency led to a home upset over the Steelers. Palmer has averaged 293 passing yards through three weeks with a road date against the rival Broncos on tap.


Injuries are a part of football, but these players have been hit particularly hard.

Ben Roethlisberger nearly matched his production, completing 5-of-6 attempts for 42 yards with three touchdowns. With the Pittsburgh running game sputtering, Roethlisberger took to the air early and often against the Raiders. He passed for 384 yards (36-for-49) with four touchdown passes, his third consecutive game with multiple touchdown strikes. Roethlisberger has thrown a single interception this season.

Houston quarterback Matt Schaub posted a huge game against the Broncos in Week 3 (see below for full details). Schaub was efficient in the red zone, completing 2-of-3 attempts with two touchdown passes.

Christian Ponder took another huge step forward on Sunday against the 49ers. Ponder completed 3-of-5 red zone attempts for 14 yards with two touchdowns in the upset win over San Francisco. Ponder completed 21-of-35 attempts overall for 198 yards, adding 33 rushing yards with a touchdown. He was not sacked, nor did he commit a turnover. With wide receiver Jerome Simpson rejoining the team, this offense is mighty intriguing for Week 4 against the flailing Detroit defense.

I know that you don’t want to revisit the Thursday night debacle, but I must. Cam Newton was 0-for-4 in his red zone attempts in a crushing loss to the Giants.

Random Stat Checks

Fans and fantasy owners who weren’t privy to the wild shootout between the Lions and Titans probably expected to see a huge point total from Chris Johnson when reviewing the box score. They were sorely disappointed. Despite the wide-open nature of this game, Johnson produced just 24 rushing yards on 14 carries. To add insult to injury, Johnson only caught a single pass for five yards. Through three games, the former fantasy hero has amassed just 45 rushing yards on 33 attempts (1.4 yards per carry). He doesn’t touch the virtual field in Week 4 on the road at Houston.

I point out the paltry yardage total as everyone in fantasyland will this morning. Jamaal Charles ran for double that season total on a single sprint against the Saints in the Chiefs’ wild overtime win. His 91-yard touchdown run sparked a furious comeback by the Chiefs. Charles finished the game with 288 total yards on 38 touches in the road win.

Torrey Smith relayed news of his younger brother’s death on Twitter early Sunday morning. As such, his availability for Sunday night’s game against New England was in doubt. Smith returned to the team and dominated the New England secondary in a performance that will be celebrated for a long while. He caught six of his 10 targets from Joe Flacco for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Three of his six receptions covered at least 25 yards. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Smith and his family.

Flacco leads the NFL with 11 completions of at least 25 yards. He’s completed 64.5% of his pass attempts for 913 yards (304.3 yards per game) with six touchdowns and three turnovers. Flacco’s a top quarterback option for Thursday night’s home tilt against the Cleveland defense.

Dwayne Bowe led all receivers with 16 targets on Sunday, producing a mediocre total of seven receptions for 79 yards. He ranks second in the NFL with 37 targets through three games, although Bowe has registered only 18 receptions (234 yards and two touchdowns).

For the second straight week, the Broncos found themselves in a deep, dark hole. This time, the Texans received four passing touchdowns from Matt Schaub to build a massive lead. Schaub had produced a single touchdown pass in the first two weeks prior to this breakout game against the Broncos. He spread the touchdown love around, as Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels all celebrated touchdown romps. Schaub finished with 290 passing yards. He gets to light it up against the Titans in Week 4.

The huge deficit for Denver once again allowed Peyton Manning to post big fantasy numbers in a frantic comeback mode. Manning completed half of his passing attempts (26-for-52) for 330 yards with two touchdowns. He was sacked three times, but did not commit a turnover.

Eric Decker was the prime recipient of Manning’s late success. Decker finished the game with 136 receiving yards on eight receptions (13 targets). He’s caught 17-of-26 targets overall for 243 yards.

As I always say in this space, “everything counts until the final kneel-downs.” Oh, wait. I need to tinker with that one. You get the point. Calvin Johnson was set to post a pedestrian effort until the late craziness ensued that sent the game into overtime. Johnson finished Detroit’s loss with 10 receptions for 164 yards with a touchdown, his first of the year. For all of the troubles in Detroit, Johnson has amassed 24 receptions for 369 yards.

Jake Locker received zero support from Chris Johnson, as I noted earlier. The Tennessee quarterback took advantage of a depleted Detroit secondary, passing for 378 yards (29-of-42) with two touchdowns and a lost fumble. Locker actually outgained Johnson on the ground with 35 rushing yards. Shameful.

You got “Shanahan’d” in Week 3 by Bill Belichick. The Patriots shifted the offensive game plan and tried to move to a faster pace, thereby relegating Stevan Ridley to a workload split against the Ravens. Ridley carried the ball 13 times for 37 yards. He’ll be back as the primary option with a higher touch count against the Bills in Week 4.

Maurice Jones-Drew rumbled for 177 yards on 29 carries, including a 59-yard touchdown run, in the Jaguars’ 22-17 win over the Colts. Jones-Drew has rushed for 314 yards overall on 59 carries. You’d like to see him more involved in the passing game (two receptions for 16 yards here and just eight receptions overall), but you’ll take those long sprints and celebrate.

Tagged: Falcons, Bears, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Titans, Chiefs, Raiders, Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Jets, 49ers, Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Peyton Manning, Nate Burleson, Carson Palmer, Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Reggie Bush, Jay Cutler, Michael Bush, Calvin Johnson, Joe Flacco, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Cam Newton, Julio Jones, Christian Ponder, Torrey Smith, Kyle Rudolph, Daniel Thomas, Lamar Miller

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