As we continue to approach the 2021 fantasy season, we have recently been spending a lot of time in the red zone (because we care about touchdowns). 

First, we covered what we can take away from team-level production in the red zone. Following that up, we covered the actual fantasy scoring compared to expected points scored in the red zone for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends

We have one final dive into red zone production, which is to explore which players rely on the red zone the most and the least to produce their touchdowns. 

Here, we can get a good gauge on which players are not solely reliant on their respective teams reaching one section of the field regularly and those who do. The added bonus gained is if you are in a league that rewards fantasy points based on touchdown length.

When looking at red zone production from a top-down perspective in that opening post, we covered how the red zone is where the bulk of the scoring happens in the league. Not much of a surprise, but even through the air, over the past decade 66.3% of all passing touchdowns have come from inside of the red zone, with 43.1% coming from inside of the 10-yard line and 28.1% occurring from five yards or closer. 

Touchdown success rates soar the closer you get to the end zone, making those targets valuable. Starting at the 10-yard line, pass attempts hit a 20% success rate as a floor per yard line to the end zone (compared to 10.7% at the 19-yard line) while climbing to 30% or higher starting at the 7-yard line and then 43.4%, 46.9%, and finally 52.8% over the final three yard lines to the end zone. 

With nearly two-thirds of the NFL passing touchdowns coming from inside of the red zone, everyone is dependent on those scores to some degree, but with a much larger percentage of passing touchdowns coming from outside of the red zone compared to rushing touchdowns, we have a lot more surface area for wide receivers to reach the end zone from longer range.

Taking a look at the top-75 non-rookie wideouts in current ADP, here is a breakdown of how those receivers have scored their touchdowns.

Antonio Brown7951.90%48.10%35.44%22.2
A.J. Green6540.00%60.00%32.31%26
Davante Adams6225.81%74.19%48.39%14.6
Mike Evans6142.62%57.38%44.26%19.1
DeAndre Hopkins6048.33%51.67%36.67%21.5
Julio Jones6050.00%50.00%30.00%25.5
Marvin Jones5135.29%64.71%33.33%17.3
Odell Beckham Jr.5046.00%54.00%36.00%27.2
T.Y. Hilton5052.00%48.00%38.00%28.6
Emmanuel Sanders4731.91%68.09%53.19%19.4
Randall Cobb4738.30%61.70%48.94%17.6
Tyreek Hill4763.83%36.17%27.66%32.6
Keenan Allen4228.57%71.43%33.33%15.3
Brandin Cooks4057.50%42.50%27.50%29.5
Allen Robinson3923.08%76.92%48.72%15.2
Adam Thielen3930.77%69.23%48.72%17.9
Stefon Diggs3847.37%52.63%31.58%22.7
Amari Cooper3857.89%42.11%21.05%31.6
Tyler Lockett3743.24%56.76%32.43%23.1
Jarvis Landry3517.14%82.86%65.71%14.3
Cole Beasley3318.18%81.82%60.61%11.4
Sammy Watkins3345.45%54.55%33.33%22.2
Michael Thomas3215.63%84.38%62.50%10.9
Robert Woods3132.26%67.74%45.16%18.9
John Brown3148.39%51.61%16.13%25.3
Jamison Crowder2638.46%61.54%30.77%21.2
Calvin Ridley2638.46%61.54%38.46%20.3
JuJu Smith-Schuster2642.31%57.69%38.46%24.8
Nelson Agholor2661.54%38.46%23.08%29.6
Cooper Kupp2429.17%70.83%37.50%21.1
Chris Godwin2433.33%66.67%45.83%16.6
Will Fuller2454.17%45.83%25.00%29
Robby Anderson2373.91%26.09%17.39%35.5
DeVante Parker2240.91%59.09%31.82%19.5
Kenny Golladay2138.10%61.90%38.10%23.9
Sterling Shepard2025.00%75.00%55.00%16.2
Tyler Boyd1931.58%68.42%42.11%19.4
A.J. Brown1942.11%57.89%36.84%31.3
Mike Williams1752.94%47.06%41.18%23.5
D.K. Metcalf1747.06%52.94%35.29%22.6
Marquise Brown1546.67%53.33%33.33%25.4
Curtis Samuel1421.43%78.57%35.71%15.5
Tre'Quan Smith1428.57%71.43%28.57%17.4
Breshad Perriman1471.43%28.57%0.00%28.7
Michael Gallup1353.85%46.15%30.77%23
DJ Chark1353.85%46.15%30.77%21.8
Keelan Cole1225.00%75.00%50.00%16
Christian Kirk1250.00%50.00%41.67%35
Diontae Johnson1258.33%41.67%25.00%23.6
Kendrick Bourne119.09%90.91%72.73%10.1
Anthony Miller1136.36%63.64%45.45%16.5
Rashard Higgins1127.27%72.73%18.18%19.5
Corey Davis1136.36%63.64%27.27%21.8
Terry McLaurin1163.64%36.36%18.18%34.5
Darius Slayton1172.73%27.27%27.27%26.8
D.J. Moore1060.00%40.00%30.00%33.9
Marquez Valdes-Scantling1070.00%30.00%20.00%41.9
Josh Reynolds933.33%66.67%55.56%15.2
James Washington944.44%55.56%11.11%28.1
Chase Claypool955.56%44.44%33.33%26.6
Justin Jefferson757.14%42.86%0.00%30.3
Gabriel Davis757.14%42.86%28.57%21.9
Tee Higgins616.67%83.33%66.67%7.3
Allen Lazard650.00%50.00%50.00%18.5
Russell Gage50.00%100.00%40.00%11
Brandon Aiyuk50.00%100.00%100.00%2.6
Laviska Shenault Jr.540.00%60.00%40.00%18.8
CeeDee Lamb560.00%40.00%40.00%24.8
Darnell Mooney40.00%100.00%50.00%9.5
Deebo Samuel450.00%50.00%50.00%20.8
Jerry Jeudy3100.00%0.00%0.00%53.3
Henry Ruggs III2100.00%0.00%0.00%59
Jalen Reagor10.00%100.00%100.00%2
Michael Pittman Jr.1100.00%0.00%0.00%45
Jakobi Meyers00.00%100.00%0.00%0

>RZ TD% = ReTD rate from Outside of the Red Zone
<10 TD% = ReTD from inside of the 10-yard line
Avg. ReTD = Length of average ReTD


We have 27 wideouts here from our 75-player sample that have caught 50% or more of their receiving touchdowns from outside of the red zone. Seven of those players were rookies last season. We will touch on their initially small samples at the end.

Of those 20 remaining wideouts, just two (Deebo Samuel and Allen Lazard) have caught single-digit touchdowns, giving us a good base for those left over as our splash-play touchdown generators. 

Three of those players have caught over 70% of their scores from outside of the red zone with Robby Anderson (73.9%), Darius Slayton (72.7%), Breshad Perriman (71.4%), and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (70%).

Anderson is the main name here with tangible ADP, catching 17-of-23 career touchdowns from outside of the red zone. Just four have come from inside of the 10-yard line. In his first season with Carolina, Anderson’s role in the offense flipped from his initial tenure with the Jets as he posted a career-low average depth of target of 9.8 yards, but that did not help him near the end zone, unfortunately. Anderson found the end zone just three times in 2020, from distances of 75, 41, and 14 yards. Anderson was tied for a team-high 12 red zone targets, but had just three of the team’s 23 targets inside of the 10-yard line come his way. 

The next highest player behind those four in scoring prowess outside of the red zone is the best distance scorer with volume in our game today in Tyreek Hill. Hill once again led the NFL with nine touchdown grabs from outside of the red zone while the next closest player (Nelson Agholor) had six. Since Hill entered the league in 2016, he has scored a league-leading 40 touchdowns of 20 yards or longer while the next closest player (Antonio Brown) has 30. After Brown, the next closest players over that span have 19 touchdowns from outside of the red zone. 

Behind Hill, three other players here have scored over 60% of their touchdowns from outside of the red zone in Terry McLaurin (63.6%), the aforementioned Nelson Agholor (61.5%), and D.J. Moore (60%). 

We dug into the scoring bugaboos for both McLaurin and Moore near the end zone and there hopes to turn those around in 2021 by adding some more short scores to their profiles which are needed to elevate their overall fantasy ceilings. 

Agholor matched a career-high with eight touchdowns last season, with six coming from 20 yards or longer and three from 40 yards out or further. Of his 26 career receiving scores, just six have come inside of the 10-yard line while his 24% career conversion rate on targets in that area of the field is well below the league mark of 37%. Making a move from Las Vegas to New England this offseason, Agholor could actually find himself attached to some solid deep-ball quarterback play although his rate of touchdowns per reception from 2020 has no shot at rolling over. Cam Newton completed 52.7% (29-of-55) of his passes on throws over 15 yards downfield, which was fifth among all quarterbacks with 50 or more such attempts on the season (although two of those passes went for touchdowns) while Mac Jones has the third-highest on-target deep rate for all prospects since 2016.

Some other odds and ends here from the splash-play group…

  • Breshad Perriman is the only player here with double-digit career touchdowns to not have a single one come from inside of the 10-yard line. For his entire career, Perriman has just two targets inside of the 10. 
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling has the longest average length of career touchdown reception for all players here with double-digit scores at 41.9 yards. Seven of his 10 career touchdown catches have come from 40 yards out or further.
  • Julio Jones is the only player with a 50/50 career split of touchdowns scored in and out of the red zone. His limited red zone usage in context of his ADP peers and getting shorter scores near the goal line has been a long-running thread throughout his career and was a thing again in 2020 when he scored just three times, from 20, 40, and 21 yards out. Maybe going to the first team in the modern era to convert over 70% of the red zone trips into touchdowns in back-to-back seasons will finally break the dam if the loss of Arthur Smith was not a significant reason why that efficiency near the end zone existed in the first place.
  • Antonio Brown has the most career touchdown receptions (79) with over 50% coming from outside of the red zone. His revival with the Buccaneers showcased his long-range scoring ability once again as his six receiving touchdowns (including the postseason) were from 46, 12, 25, 30, 36, and 1 yards out. 


Flipping the script, we are now looking at wideouts who have relied on their prowess near the end zone as a tangible skill or have needed their teams to set them up for shorter scores since they are not creating them on their own via vertical play or after the catch.

We have already established roughly two-thirds of all passing touchdowns come from inside of the red zone. Out of our 75-player sample above, 25 have caught 66% or more of their career touchdowns from inside of the red zone. Four were rookies, who will bring things home in a moment.

The first player with tangible ADP that is a standout here is Michael Thomas, someone we have talked about a few times this offseason in terms of his current Dynasty market and his red zone performance a year ago. 84.4% (27-of-32) of Thomas’s career touchdown catches have come inside of the red zone. Of his 32 receiving scores, 20 have come from inside of the 10-yard line and 15 from five yards and in. His average length of touchdown reception for his career has been 10.9 yards, ahead of only Kendrick Bourne (10.1 yards) among all players with double-digit career touchdowns in the table above. There is hope that perhaps Jameis Winston can open up the route tree for Thomas, but we also know that Thomas has not given us much of a sample in creating a lot of his own touchdowns after the catch in his career so far while we also inherently know that depth of target is more of a receiver stat than fully a quarterback one

Behind Thomas, there are two other wideouts with double-digit career touchdowns that have had over 80% of them come inside of the red zone in Jarvis Landry (82.9%) and Cole Beasley (81.8%). Landry actually has been a solid performer after the catch over his career, so there is some surprise that he has not created a few scores on his own over his seven-year career. Of his 35 receiving scores, just six have come from outside of the red zone, which has played a role in why he has scored more than six touchdowns in just one season to date. 25 of Landry’s career touchdown catches have come from 10 yards and in while 15 have come from five yards or closer.

Beasley has 33 touchdown grabs across nine seasons, with just six coming from outside of the red zone and 20 coming from inside of the 10-yard line. 

Allen Robinson scoring 76.9% of his career touchdown receptions inside of the red zone (fourth among all wideouts with 20-plus career scores behind these three mentioned already) is not a surprise given the state of his quarterback play over the course of his career. Robinson’s first two career touchdown grabs were 31 and 48 yards, but then had just five touchdowns scored of 30 yards or longer over his 38 touchdown grabs since. The good news is that if Justin Fields does take over sooner than later, Fields ranks sixth among all prospects since 2016 in on-target rate (67.7%) on those throws 20 or more yards in the air.


Chase Claypool955.56%44.44%33.33%26.6
Gabriel Davis757.14%42.86%28.57%21.9
Justin Jefferson757.14%42.86%0.00%30.3
Tee Higgins616.67%83.33%66.67%7.3
Brandon Aiyuk50.00%100.00%100.00%2.6
Laviska Shenault Jr.540.00%60.00%40.00%18.8
CeeDee Lamb560.00%40.00%40.00%24.8
Darnell Mooney40.00%100.00%50.00%9.5
Jerry Jeudy3100.00%0.00%0.00%53.3
Henry Ruggs III2100.00%0.00%0.00%59
Jalen Reagor10.00%100.00%100.00%2
Michael Pittman Jr.1100.00%0.00%0.00%45

Wrapping things up with last season’s rookies since we only have a one-year sample here.

Chase Claypool led all rookie wideouts with nine receiving scores last season and was balanced doing so. Claypool was tied for third in the NFL (and first among rookies) with five receiving touchdowns from outside of the red zone while he was tied for third among all rookie wideouts with four red zone scores.

Justin Jefferson was tied for second among rookies with seven receiving scores, but is the only rookie wideout here with multiple scores to not have a single one come inside of the 10-yard line. Adam Thielen out-targeted Jefferson 11-6 inside of the 10, but turned 10 of his 11 targets there into touchdowns while Jefferson was shut out. In the end zone, Thielen out-targeted Jefferson 20-8 while converting 13 of those 20 targets to just two for Jefferson. I would anticipate Jefferson to close the gap in usage near the end zone moving into his second season.

Gabriel Davis matched Jefferson’s seven scores with four coming from 20 yards or longer and two from inside of 10 yards. Davis received 10 red zone targets (tied for third among rookie wideouts) and five targets inside of the 10-yard line, which was fourth.

Michael Pittman Jr., Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs did not score a red zone touchdown as rookies. Jeudy and Ruggs did not have a red zone reception and neither were used in that area of the field as rookie. Pittman did catch 5-of-8 red zone targets, but he had just two season-long targets inside of the 10-yard line among the 22 team targets and just one of the team 30 targets in the end zone. If looking for a second-year breakout from any of these wideouts, they just outright have to be more involved in this area of the field infinitely greater than they were as rookies.

Brandon Aiyuk had an interesting rookie season for touchdown production. His average touchdown catch length was just 2.6 yards, the lowest of all wide receivers in the NFL last season to score multiple times. Aiyuk had two rushing touchdowns from 19 and 38 yards out, but his receiving scores were from 2, 3, 4, 2, and 2 yards out. His teammate George Kittle has never caught a career touchdown pass from inside of five yards.

Tee Higgins matched Aiyuk for the rookie-lead with five red zone scores, four of which came from four yards and in. 

Of the players here with multiple touchdown grabs, Darnell Mooney was the only player outside of Aiyuk to not catch a touchdown from outside of the red zone. As a 4.38 speedster, Mooney received 23 targets on throws over 20 yards downfield (tied for 15th in the NFL), but connected on just four of those targets (17.4%). Just six were deemed catchable per Pro Football Focus (28.6%), which was 52nd in the league. As linked with Allen Robinson above, downfield passing is the largest area of impact that Justin Fields can have on the Chicago offense when he finally takes the field.