I’ve written before that STL is a team we need to pay attention to because they were good at getting into the red zone last year (they were 4th in the NFL in plays run inside the 20) but they were abysmal at scoring once they got there.
Partially their impotence at scoring is making its way into the statistic of how many plays they run; good teams just score and get off the field, whereas STL has to keep taking their shots. They’re like the guy in the bar at closing time who both has no shot of going home with a girl, and yet is totally unaffected by rejection. Once in the red zone, it’s a steady stream of “I would go home with you, but I have [to get up early, to drive my friend, a scorching case of herpes that I would feel really bad about giving to you… oh what’s that? You have it too and you don’t mind? Well, I meant scorching case of AIDS.]” for the Rams offense.
So the Rams could use some help in the red zone. Enter Mike Sims-Walker. Despite the hatred that Sims-Walker enjoys among the fantasy football intelligentsia, he has been great in the red zone over the past two years. While his catches were down to just 43 last year, MSW still managed to catch 7 TDs. If we look at Advanced Red Zone metrics we see that MSW has been an elite RZ receiver over the past two years.
The table below shows RZ efficiency based on two metrics for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. The two metrics are TD Rate, which is TDs as a percent of RZ targets, and yards per reception as a percent of yards to score a touchdown. In fact, MSW scored the highest among WRs with a minimum of 25 targets if we combine these two metrics.
2009-2010 – Advanced Red Zone Efficiency (WR)
|WR||TD||Targets||Y/R||Av LOS||TD Rate||YPR as % of YTG|
|M.Sims-Walker – JAC||12||31||4.23||9.06||39%||47%|
|R.Williams – DAL||10||27||3.81||9.26||37%||41%|
|R.Wayne – IND||12||39||4.54||10.10||31%||45%|
|A.Johnson – HOU||12||39||5.49||12.56||31%||44%|
|R.Moss – NE||9||26||3.92||9.69||35%||40%|
|S.Rice – MIN||7||26||5.35||10.04||27%||53%|
|J.Maclin – PHI||8||25||5.20||12.12||32%||43%|
|C.Ochocinco – CIN||10||29||3.97||10.24||34%||39%|
|M.Colston – NO||12||46||5.67||12.00||26%||47%|
|D.Bowe – KC||11||33||4.15||12.48||33%||33%|
|S.Smith – NYG||8||32||4.75||10.41||25%||46%|
|W.Welker – NE||9||39||5.36||11.74||23%||46%|
|C.Johnson – DET||11||36||3.50||10.06||31%||35%|
|L.Moore – NO||6||26||5.23||12.12||23%||43%|
|G.Jennings – GB||8||31||4.10||11.10||26%||37%|
|L.Fitzgerald – ARI||15||51||3.20||10.35||29%||31%|
|R.White – ATL||12||45||3.93||12.02||27%||33%|
|N.Washington – TEN||8||26||3.50||12.35||31%||28%|
|M.Austin – DAL||7||36||3.08||9.69||19%||32%|
|H.Ward – PIT||9||32||3.56||12.66||28%||28%|
|J.Avant – PHI||4||30||3.67||9.83||13%||37%|
|B.Marshall – DEN||7||29||3.69||12.62||24%||29%|
|P.Garcon – IND||5||33||3.48||11.36||15%||31%|
|J.Jones – GB||4||29||3.48||11.21||14%||31%|
|E.Bennett – CHI||5||27||3.11||10.37||19%||30%|
|S.Moss – WAS||5||34||3.12||10.62||15%||29%|
|M.Floyd – SD||5||26||2.00||10.04||19%||20%|
|D.Amendola – STL||4||32||3.03||10.63||13%||29%|
The other surprising name at the top of the list is Roy Williams. Sims-Walker has the same number of TDs as Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson, and did it with less targets. Roy Williams was just two TDs back from those guys. But I think the really interesting thing with MSW and Williams is if we evaluate them in the context of the teams they are going to.
Here is a table showing the same statistics last year for the Rams.
STL – Advanced Red Zone Efficiency (WR)
|TD||Targets||Y/R||Av LOS||TD Rate||YPR as % of YTG|
|D.Amendola – STL||4||32||3.0||10.6||13%||29%|
|B.Gibson – STL||3||16||2.7||12.9||19%||21%|
|L.Robinson – STL||3||13||1.5||10.8||23%||13%|
|D.Avery – STL||3||9||5.2||10.4||33%||50%|
|M.Clayton – STL||2||6||6.8||10.5||33%||65%|
|D.Alexander – STL||5||4.8||12.0||0%||40%|
So MSW’s red zone stats are significantly better than the Rams other options except maybe Mark Clayton and Donnie Avery who are difficult to tell because of the small sample size. If you compare MSW to Amendola, who for some reason was the Ram’s preferred receiver when they were inside the 20, MSW blows him out of the water. That’s not surprising. Sims-Walker is 6’3”. Amendola is short enough that if he were playing a game of pickup basketball and he was guarding an Oompa Loompa, it would be really embarrassing when the Oompa Loompa went down to the block and started loudly calling for the ball.
If we move on to Roy Williams’ potential in CHI we see a similar situation. The Bears were not effective passing in the red zone last year. Their most effective RZ receiver was Devin Aromashodu, who is now gone. Roy Williams has been more effective in the red zone than all of the guys who remain.
CHI – Advanced Red Zone Efficiency (WR)
|TD||Targets||Y/R||Av LOS||TD Rate||YPR as % of YTG|
|E.Bennett – CHI||5||27||3.1||10.4||19%||30%|
|J.Knox – CHI||6||22||4.6||12.6||27%||36%|
|D.Hester – CHI||4||16||4.7||11.0||25%||43%|
|D.Aromashodu – CHI||3||6||6.2||11.7||50%||53%|
|R.Davis – CHI||1||5||6.4||14.8||20%||43%|
I’m a lot more bullish on MSW than I am on Roy Williams. First, he’s younger than Williams. Second, I can more easily forgive MSW’s one slideback season than I can an entire career of underperforming from Williams. I’m not really that worried about the crowded situation in STL because I don’t think when it comes down to it they’ll actually use all of those guys unless they need to. Remember that last year they had to keep going back to the 3rd and 4th guys on the depth chart. It’s not like any team wants to do that.
So while both Williams and MSW are going to teams that need help in the red zone, I’ll be taking my shot with MSW. For about the 40th WR taken I can get a guy who was a top 20 WR pick last year, has been extremely effective in the red zone, and who is going to a situation where the passing game will be featured. When I take my deep value shots like this, I want them to have WR1 upside. I think MSW has that upside and I think with such a low pick my downside is extremely limited.
I want to take a shot with a Rams receiver this year and I think MSW is my guy.