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Red Zone Watch: Week 16

Andrew M. Laird

Andrew M. Laird, the 2017 FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's Senior Soccer Editor and a fantasy football contributor. He is also a two-time finalist for the FSWA's Football Writer of the Year Award.

Buffalo Bills
Remember when Mike Gillislee was named the Bills' "official goal line back?" The news came out before the Bills' Week 14 game against the Steelers, and he promptly got zero red-zone carries to LeSean McCoy's two. Gillislee did get a few looks the following week against the Browns, but McCoy still got more touches inside the 20. It was bleak again this week against Miami, as McCoy was given five red-zone carries, including two inside the 10, and even Reggie Bush got a tote inside the 20, which was one more than Gillislee. McCoy scored a red-zone touchdown, though it was from 19 yards out, which isn't really Gillislee range, but anyone who thought they could get some cheap fantasy points from the Bills' backup running back is facing the reality that the opportunities are too few and far between.

Kansas City Chiefs
Spencer Ware greatly outpaced Charcandrick West during Saturday's win over the Broncos, as the former rushed for 62 yards on 13 carries while the latter only racked up 35 yards on his 14 carries. However, there was no competition in the red zone, as West was given five carries, including four inside the 10, while Ware was given none. Unfortunately for those relying on West (people who picked him up in Week 9 and stopped looking at their fantasy team), he was unable to get into the end zone, which kept his fantasy day rather pedestrian. Ware had an MRI on his ribs after hurting them Saturday, and if he's forced to miss any time, then West should surely see more touches, though Tyreek Hill has poached plenty of opportunities out of the backfield himself, including a 70-yard rushing touchdown against the Broncos.

New England Patriots
There was nothing new about the Patriots' red-zone scheme Saturday against the Jets, but it's worth recognizing how much they used running back LeGarrette Blount, as he rushed 14 times in the red zone, including nine inside the 10-yard line. Blount's red-zone carries were more than twice the next highest players -- Jay Ajayi, David Johnson and Rob Kelley all had six -- while Johnson's five totes inside the 10 were the most behind Blount. Fantasy owners clamored for Dion Lewis before the season, particularly in PPR leagues, but Blount's heavy rushing opportunities surely will give him plenty of value next season.

New Orleans Saints
Hey look, Mark Ingram is back! After seeing Tim Hightower lead the Saints' backfield, including in the red zone and near the goal line, Ingram finally got the opportunities again, as his five red-zone carries Saturday against the Bucs were tied for the fifth-most in the NFL, and he was able to bang in a six-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the first quarter. He added a 14-yard touchdown later in the game, and he finished with an 18-8 lead in carries over Hightower, including 5-0 in the red zone (2-0 inside the 10). Finally healthy, Ingram should be very helpful for fantasy owners looking to clinch eighth place in leagues that go a full 17 weeks.