Red zone statistics are terribly flawed. There, I said it.
In the world of fantasy football, we're always looking for advantages over the competition. For years, one of those ways has been the evaluation of scoring potential based on a player's usage in the red zone. The problem with this is simple: each red zone look is weighted evenly, despite the increase in touchdown probability as a team edges closer to the end zone.
Consider that over the past five years, 2.2 percent of carries from the 19-yard line resulted in a touchdown. On the other hand, 52.8 percent of carries from the 1-yard line resulted in a touchdown. Despite the fact a back is more than 24 times more likely to score from the 1 than the 19, red zone data puts an equal weight on both of those carries.
Fortunately, we now have an alternative for red zone data: opportunity-adjusted touchdowns (or OTD).
In the world of sports analysis, we're always looking to gather a bunch of relevant statistics and combine them into one number that defines a player's production (QBR, for example). Although the focus here is strictly on scoring opportunity, that's essentially what is going on with OTD. Instead of spending more than an hour every week scanning lists of Arian Foster's total carries versus inside the 5-yard line carries versus inside the red zone carries, we'll provide you with one number that tells you all you need to know. That number is the player's OTD.