Fantasy Football: Is Allen Robinson Being Overvalued or Undervalued?
After a pedestrian rookie season in 2014, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Robinson broke out in 2015 to finish as the WR6 in PPR leagues. But two seasons later, has Robinson lost his 2015 breakout year shine?
His production suffered at the hands of his quarterback last year, and he plummeted down to a WR24 finish in PPR, much to the demise of his fantasy owners -- some of whom spent a first-round pick to get him. Heading into 2017, Robinson is currently going early in the fifth round (at WR26) of PPR league drafts, according to Fantasy Football Calculator's Average Draft Position (ADP).
But with Blake Bortles still at the helm, is Robinson still being overvalued?
A 6'3", 220-pounder who runs a 4.56 40-yard dash, Robinson uses his big frame and 39-inch vertical jump (in the 87th-percentile according to MockDraftable.com) to beat opposing cornerbacks. And in Jacksonville, he's been given plenty of opportunities to do just that. What makes Robinson so attractive to fantasy owners is his volume -- he's finished top eight in the NFL for targets the past two seasons.
Here are Robinson's numbers from his first three seasons in the league.
Given the identical number of targets in 2015 and 2016, you're left wondering -- where did all of the yardage and touchdowns go? One answer is that Robinson's 2015 touchdown numbers were a bit of an outlier. Another answer lies in the gap between his own efficiency and that of his quarterback.
Digging into our Net Expected Points (NEP) data gives us a look at Robinson's value on the field on a per-play basis in 2015 and 2016. NEP uses historical down-and-distance data to determine what is expected of a player on each individual play. Positive NEP is earned when a player performs above expectation.
Here's a look at Robinson's efficiency over his career, with his rank among the top-24 PPR wide receivers in fantasy football in parentheses for 2015 and 2016, when he finished in that group.
|Year||Rec NEP||Rec NEP per Target||NFL Avg||Rec Success Rate|
|2015||123.81 (5th of 24)||0.82 (6th)||0.67||93.75% (4th)|
|2016||86.48 (18th)||0.58 (22nd)||0.66||89.04 (8th)|
Robinson's Reception NEP per target dipped, but his Reception Success Rate remained solid. In 2015, Robinson's real-life efficiency resulted in fantasy success. In 2016, his efficiency dipped slightly, but he had a dramatic downturn in fantasy football production. Why? The issue wasn't so much Robinson -- it was the Jaguars' quarterback play.
Bortles posted a -6.46 Passing NEP per drop back in 2016, which ranked him 30th of the 34 quarterbacks with a minimum of 200 drop backs last season (a group including Brock Osweiler and Matt Barkley). Bortles was, to both the naked eye and the advanced stats, dead weight that sunk the Jaguars offense after hovering closer to league-average numbers in 2015 on almost the exact same number of drop backs. Here are Bortles' efficiency numbers from the past two seasons.
|Year||Drop Backs||Passing NEP||Passing NEP per Drop Back||NFL QB Avg|
A huge issue for Bortles was the deep ball. After attempting 110 throws of 20-plus yards (leading the NFL in this category) and completing 41.8 of those throws (8th overall) in 2015, he only attempted 70 such throws last year (13th in the league), completing 21.4 percent of them (32nd).
Jacksonville has been trailing a lot over the past two years, and you'll notice a drop in Robinson's stats between these two periods of time.
And, for comparison, below is Bortles' production while the Jaguars were behind. His completion percentage and volume mirrored 2015, but the drop in yardage and touchdowns correlates to Robinson's dip.
Let the Air Out
AirYards describes total intended yards from all targets and Receiver Air Conversion Ratio (RACR) looks at the player's ability to turn a yard thrown at him into receiving yards.
After collecting 2,245 air yards in 2015, that number dropped to 1,956 last year. This difference can be seen in the 2016 RACR data -- Robinson fell far below the league average due to the decline in Bortles' deep-ball efficiency.
Based on his volume of targets over the past two seasons -- and the proof that he has the ability to perform at a top-10-in-the-NFL level -- Robinson is obviously a focal point of the Jaguars' offense. A coaching change will inevitably bring offensive changes, but game script will still favor the passing game. After all, Vegas has the Jaguars' win projection at 6.5 games.
Our models project Robinson to improve on last year's performance, but not to get back all the way back to that breakout campaign of his. We currently have Robinson as our 14th-ranked wide receiver.
|2017 Projection||WR Rank||Receptions||Yards||TD||Fantasy Points|
If Bortles can improve at all on his abysmal 2016 deep-ball production, it's not hard to imagine Robinson's numbers surpassing our projections, especially when considering the consistent volume he's seen.
However, he's not overrated. If anything he's a bargain in fantasy drafts right now. If your fellow owners shy away from Robinson because of his quarterback situation, draft him with the confidence that his volume makes for a high-upside player with a functional floor.