Fantasy Football: How Is Allen Robinson’s Value Impacted By Signing With the Bears?

Robinson is heading to the Bears, a team with plenty of available targets. What does this move do to his fantasy value?

The Chicago Bears were among the busiest teams at the beginning of free agency as they took two major steps toward improving their talent-deprived offense.

First, they secured the services of tight end Trey Burton -- or Trick-Play Trey as he will forever be known in Philadelphia. But the move that should have a bigger impact is the signing of wide receiver Allen Robinson, who will likely jump to the top of Chicago’s wideout depth chart.

How does this move impact Robinson’s fantasy value?

A Much-Needed Move

The Bears were one of the least pass-happy teams in the NFL in 2017, posting the ninth-lowest pass-to-run ration in the league. Whether this was due to an abundance of faith in their ground game or a desire to protect rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, only former Chicago coach John Fox can tell us.

One thing is for sure -- the Bears were hurting at wideout last year, literally and figuratively. Cameron Meredith tore his ACL in the preseason, and Kevin White suffered another season-ending injury in what's been a nightmare start to his career, this one coming in Week 1.

That forced the Bears to trot out a pretty listless group of receivers. As if being a rookie quarterback isn't hard enough, having Kendall Wright as your de facto number-one receiver won't help a bit.

We can see just how much the Bears' receivers struggled in 2017 by using our in-house Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. NEP is a metric that describes the contribution a play (or player) makes to their team’s chances of scoring. By adding down-and-distance value to the box score production, we can see how each play influences the outcome of games. For more info on NEP, check out our glossary.

Player Targets Receptions Yards TD Reception NEP Per Target
Kendall Wright 91 59 614 1 0.56
Josh Bellamy 46 24 376 1 0.75
Markus Wheaton 17 3 51 0 0.27
Tre McBride 15 8 144 0 0.81

Wright is really the only wideout with a meaningful sample size, and among the 50 receivers with at 80 targets last season, he ended the year ranked 39th in Reception NEP per target. The league average for Reception NEP per target has been around 1.10 in each of the past four seasons, so he performed like a well-below-average receiver.

Running back Tarik Cohen actually saw the second-most targets on the team with 71.

The Bears needed to make some upgrades in terms of pass-game options — either in free agency or the draft — and they’ve done just that.

Hey, Mr. Robinson

Robinson missed virtually all of the 2017 season after suffering an ACL injury in Week 1. This marked the second time in four years that his season was ended prematurely due to injury after he played 10 games in 2014, his rookie year.

These absences have not stopped Robinson from being productive when on the field, as his combined numbers from 2014 to 2016 can attest.

Stat From 2014 Through 2016PerformanceRank
PPR Fantasy Points620.121st

Robinson blew up in 2015, breaking out to the tune of 1,400 yards and 14 scores. But he wasn't able to follow it up in 2016, struggling to match his big-play production from the season before. He saw exactly 151 targets in each of the 2015 and 2016 campaigns, but the results were quite different.

Year Targets Receptions Yards TDs Reception NEP Per Target
2015 151 80 1,400 14 0.82
2016 151 73 883 6 0.58

In the interest of fairness, we should also factor in that Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles experienced a major regression from the 2015 to 2016. His adjusted yards per attempt fell from 7.1 to 5.8, passing yards per game from 276.8 to 244.1 and touchdown rate from 5.8% to 3.7%.

Outlook for 2018

The Bears have secured themselves a player who is capable of giving them a true threat on the outside. Robinson saw at least 24% of Jacksonville's team targets in both 2015 and 2016, so he's used to being the top dog on the depth chart. No Bears wideout had a market share above 20% last season. While Meredith is a good player who came on strongly last year, Robinson should jump to the top of Chicago’s depth chart.

New Chicago coach Matt Nagy was part of an offensive staff in Kansas City that oversaw a team that had the 14th-highest pass-to-run ratio in 2017. If the Bears become less dependent on the run, that would mean good things for the fantasy value of all of Chicago's pass-game options, including A-Rob.

There's still plenty of uncertainty in the Windy City, and the biggest question mark is Trubisky. After tossing a mere seven touchdowns in 12 starts in 2017, can he make a jump in his second season? Time will tell, but the Bears are trying their best to give their young signal caller a better chance. With Robinson and Burton coming in plus Meredith and White returning to health and Adam Shaheen entering his second year, Trubisky appears to have a much better surrounding cast.

Per Fantasy Football Calculator’s average draft position data for 12-team standard leagues, A-Rob is currently the WR21, and that's with the fantasy community being unsure of where he'd end up playing in 2018. Considering all the variables at play -- coming off an ACL injury, new team, young quarterback and so on -- that's probably a fair price for Robinson.