2019 Fantasy Football: Team Play-calling Inside the Five





By Chet Gresham – @ChetGresham
Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Below here you’ll see a breakdown of each team’s play-calling inside the opponent’s five-yard line. The sample size for some of the, how should I say this, offensively disabled teams are too small to put much stock into, but many of those teams likely switched things up this offseason to try to improve their offense anyway. But there is some interesting information in here that I’ll do my best to suss out.






New Orleans Saints

Wow, the Saints’ offense lives near the goal line. With 66 total plays inside the five, they had 10 more than the second team on the chart, Kansas City. That means that we get a great sample size. Only eight teams threw the ball more than ran it inside the five, and the Saints were no different with a 60.6 run percentage to 39.4 pass percentage. Taysom Hill did cut into Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara’s touches, as Saints quarterbacks received 12.1 percent of the touches, ranking for the eighth-highest quarterback percentage, but the running backs did see the fifth-highest target percentage, and when you put their targets and rushing attempts together, they saw a healthy 58.8 percent of the looks inside the five, which ranked eighth in the league. That’s all to say, the Saints rely on their running backs near the goal line. In the end, Kamara had 19 looks to Ingram’s 15, but Ingram was out the first four games. That’s an even split, but Kamara did score 10 touchdowns to Ingram’s four on those looks. Latavius Murray will take Ingram’s spot this season and has been a good goal-line back in his career, so we could see a similar split, but I also don’t believe Murray is as talented as Ingram.

Overall, the Saints do spread the ball out fairly well around the goal line between pass and run, but they lean more toward the run and the odd usage of Taysom Hill could still be a problem for Drew Brees. Brees’ time as a locked-and-loaded top-five fantasy pick is over, while Kamara’s time is now.




Los Angeles Rams

The Rams ranked fourth in run percentage and 30th in pass percentage inside the five. That was great for Todd Gurley, as he ended up with 22 carries for 11 touchdowns from inside the five. If Gurley is rested in 2019 to keep him fresh, he’s likely not going to be yanked from the field when the team is inside the five.


Dallas Cowboys

One of the biggest reasons Dak Prescott finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback is due to his rushing ability and the amount of work he had near the goal line. Amazingly, Prescott ran the ball on 27 percent of Dallas’ plays inside the five, scoring four touchdowns on 10 carries while Ezekiel Elliott scored two touchdowns on 11 carries. When you compare Elliott’s workload inside the five with Todd Gurley’s, it isn’t even a contest. Elliott will continue to fight with Prescott for those short-yardage touchdowns in 2019.




Houston Texans

The Texans’ usage inside the five is Deshaun Watson and more Deshaun Watson. If you disregard the Dolphins measly 10 plays inside the five, Watson led all quarterbacks with a 75 percent usage rate, while his 10 touchdowns tied for fifth in the league. With a great receiving corps, no go-to running back and good rushing ability, Watson is set up nicely when near the goal line.


Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have a better quarterback for 2019, but they still have Doug Marrone as head coach and he ran the ball inside the five 57.7 percent of the time, ranking fifth and threw it to running backs 15.4 percent, which was second-most. All together Jaguars running backs led the league in usage near the goal line. Now that T.J. Yeldon is gone, we can expect Leonard Fournette to get more work as a receiver and plenty of work near the goal line. We can’t expect huge numbers from a team that will likely have trouble moving the ball consistently, but if Fournette can stay healthy and the Jacksonville defense can keep games close, Fournette could be in line for plenty of fantasy points.


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Buffalo Bills

The Bills didn’t get to their opponent’s five-yard line all that often, but when they did, Josh Allen was called upon, while their running backs weren’t, ranking 30th in percentage of looks, while Allen ranked second in percentage of rushing attempts. Allen is going to be inconsistent as a passer, but they’ve built their team on Allen creating time for his receivers with his legs and for him to tuck the ball and run whenever he sees an opening. Those plays are big fantasy winners, even if his team isn’t winning.








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