Why Khiry Robinson's Fantasy Football Upside Makes Him a Late-Round Target

Judging by the moves made by New Orleans this off-season, it appears they want to commit more to the run game. With C.J. Spiller already injured, here's why Khiry Robinson is worth a late-round fantasy pick.

As fantasy football enthusiasts, we all have a tendency to latch onto certain players despite what their actual real-football roles turn out to be. We see talent waiting to be unleashed, and assume that NFL coaching staffs must see it too.

For those still waiting for a Ladarius Green breakout, you know what I’m talking about. The same goes for the Jeff Janis truthers, especially now following the Jordy Nelson season-ending injury.

While both of these players may still fulfill the promise that we see as a football observing community, there really are no sure things in the wild, unpredictable world of the NFL.

For me, Khiry Robinson is that guy. 

During the 2014 preseason, I wrote about a potential breakout for Robinson, which ultimately didn’t happen. Yet here I am again, telling you that he is a player to watch in 2015. 

Reasons to Believe

Despite possessing a relatively mediocre athletic profile and playing against Division II collegiate competition, Robinson’s senior season at West Texas A&M was undeniably impressive.

His first two professional seasons in New Orleans haven’t been too shabby either, albeit in a limited role. But what may be even more impressive than his history of raw statistical output is just how efficient he has been relative to his workload.

Here at numberFire, we like to use our signature  Net Expected Points (NEP) metric to show how many points a player adds or subtracts as a result of his on-field play compared to expectation-level. Breaking that down to a per-touch basis gives us an even more detailed view of how effective a given player really was.

Rush NEP Rush NEP/P Success Rate Rec NEP Targets Rec NEP/Target Rec Success Rate
Mark Ingram 9.88 0.04 45.58% -2.77 36 -0.08 44.83%
Khiry Robinson 1.11 0.01 48.68% 4.84 11 0.44 75.00%

Robinson ranked seventh in Rushing NEP per carry among 30 running backs who registered between 50 and 100 carries last season. He was even better in the receiving game, ranking sixth in Reception NEP per target among the same grouping of players.

Mark Ingram is the day-one starter for the Saints, without question. But it’s encouraging that in a smaller sample size, Robinson was nearly as good -- if not better in certain categories -- as Ingram was last season.

New Orleans brought in C.J. Spiller in the offseason to serve as the pass-catching compliment to Ingram, but as has been the case with Spiller before, he is already injured and will likely miss the first two weeks of the regular season.

This almost certainly elevates Robinson out of mere “handcuff” territory to potential standalone value in the Saints’ backfield, even if only for the short-term. And given Spiller’s injury history, there’s no telling how effective he will be upon return, or if Robinson may even play his way into a more substantial role regardless.

Low Cost, High Upside

Although most re-draft leagues have probably already drafted, for those with more drafts to come, consider snagging Robinson in the later rounds.

His draft cost is negligible, his role (for now) appears to be the number-two running back in an offense that we all expect to be prolific, and he has shown the ability to get the most from his touches both rushing and receiving.

Worst case scenario, you can cut bait on him if Spiller comes back full strength and avoids injury for the rest of the season.

Best case, you have potentially uncovered immense value should further attrition occur in the New Orleans backfield.