Fantasy Football: Would a Jacksonville Jaguars Move to Chad Henne Help Allen Robinson?

The Jaguars are now publicly open to the possibility of benching Blake Bortles for Chad Henne. Would that help or hurt Allen Robinson's fantasy value?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a quarterback problem.

They've actually had one for some time, but it's only being publicly realized now, as head coach Doug Marrone said last night that the team's starting quarterback job is up for grabs.

So it's Blake Bortles versus Chad Henne, not just Blake Bortles.

What a world.

What's this all mean? How does it impact the Jags' offense, but more importantly, should it change the way we view top wide receiver Allen Robinson in fantasy football?

Let's dig in, I guess. (I can't believe I have to write about Blake Bortles and Chad Henne.)

Bortles' Not-as-Magical 2015

There's no doubt that Blake Bortles showed some signs of being a competent NFL starting quarterback in 2015, having thrown 35 touchdowns and over 4,400 yards across the season. Traditional statistics don't tell us enough, though. Not all yards gained are alike, not all touchdowns are alike, and certainly not all interceptions are alike.

Enter Net Expected Points.

Our Net Expected Points (or NEP) model helps us see how many real points players are adding (or losing) for their team versus expectation. It factors in down-and-distance and field position to give a more accurate depiction of performance through data.

In 2015, while Bortles was a fantasy football legend, he was just ordinary from a NEP standpoint. He finished the year ranked 17th in cumulative Passing NEP, and on a per drop back basis, he was a below-average signal-caller.

How is that possible for a dude who threw 35 touchdowns? Well, interceptions matter, too, even if they don't in fantasy football. And he threw 18 of them.

Moreover, Bortles had a 45.66% Success Rate in 2015, meaning 45.66% of his passes positively impacted his and his team's overall expected points total. Among all 200-plus drop back instances from a quarterback over the last two years (71 of them), that number ranked 44th-best. Meaning, he wasn't really making positive plays very consistently -- he was relying on the big play to boost his numbers.

And, really, the biggest plus to Bortles' 2015 season was his tendency to get the ball down the field. That's what aided in Allen Robinson's breakout season, where he finished as fantasy football's sixth-best wideout.

Year Air Yards Air Yards % Air Yards per Attempt
2014 1,245 42.83% 2.62
2015 2,650 59.85% 4.37
2016 2,007 51.40% 3.21

Notice the outlier here?

The numbers above reflect Bortles' air yards profile on completed tosses. In other words, in 2015, 2,650 of his passing yard total came via the air, which accounted for 59.85% of that total. On a per-attempt basis, Bortles was far and away his best in 2015, which helped A-Rob do his thing. Robinson, with an identical number of targets (151) in 2015 and 2016, had 1,082 and 689 air yards on receptions, respectively, over those two years.


What changed? It's a pretty simple answer, actually. Bortles stopped throwing the ball deep in 2016.

15+ Yd Att 15+ Yd Att % 15+ Comp % 15+ Yd Yds 15+ % of Tot Yds
2014 69 14.53% 28.99% 574 19.75%
2015 145 23.93% 44.14% 1,836 41.46%
2016 112 17.92% 29.46% 788 20.18%

Two seasons ago, 23.93% of Bortles' throws travelled 15 or more yards through the air. Last year, that number fell to 17.92%. More importantly, Bortles was far more accurate in 2015, throwing to a completion percentage on those types of throws of 44.14%. Last year? 29.46%.

All of that resulted in Bortles throwing for far more than double the amount of yards on deep balls in 2015 versus 2016.

And that accuracy tidbit is pretty important. According to, Robinson actually only saw 271 fewer air yards on all targets (not just completed passes) from 2015 to 2016. He just wasn't able to do as much with them because, well, Bortles was bad.

Is Henne an Upgrade?

Pre-Bortles, Chad Henne was getting a lot of run for Jacksonville under center. During 2012 and 2013, he threw the ball 308 and 503 times, respectively, so we've got some sort of sample size to work off of here.

Year Air Yards % Air Yards Air Yards Per Attempt
2012 1,182 56.72% 3.84
2013 1,378 42.52% 2.74

Overall, his air yards on completed passes numbers look pretty similar to Bortles' non-2015 campaigns. But to give some love to Henne, he was working with receivers like Justin Blackmon (pour some out) and Cecil Shorts. We don't need data to show that he was (arguably) working with less.

And the NFL has also increasingly become more passer-friendly, which should help Bortles' numbers.

The piece that we should be more interested in is how Henne fared throwing the rock deep, because when that was going for Bortles, things were solid for Robinson, too.

15+ Yd Att15+ Yd Att %15+ Comp %15+ Yd Yds15+ % of Tot Yds

When Henne was quarterbacking the Jags in 2012 and 2013, he was throwing the ball deep at a less frequent rate than Bortles has over the last few years, but he was more accurate on those tosses.

And that, I think, could be key here. Jacksonville went out and drafted Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick a few months back, and Doug Marrone said this offseason that he wants to run the ball on every play. An exaggerated statement, yes, but it also shows us what Jacksonville is very clearly trying to do: play strong defense (per their offseason moves the last few years) and run the football (per the Fournette pick).

So if that's the case, volume may have been limited to begin with. In turn, A-Rob's best path to a successful fantasy football season would be with the most accurate passer the team can find.

And given the data and the trajectory Bortles has gone down, that passer honestly might be Chad Henne.