Just How Good Is Jacksonville's Allen Robinson?
Allen Robinson is a name that emerged last year among fantasy football circles. Of course, last year, Robinson was a rookie for the Jacksonville Jaguars, an eternally anemic offense, so things didn't exactly pan out.
That woeful unit, led by fellow rookie Blake Bortles and a terrifyingly bad Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) score of -97.97 (suggesting he lost his team roughly 100 points compared to expectation level), played part in stymieing Robinson's rookie production.
Robinson secured 48 catches as a rookie, leading to 548 yards and 2 touchdowns, which isn't terrible given the circumstances. Of course, such numbers left him excluded from the top of his own rookie class, which was historically great.
But through seven games as an NFL sophomore, he's showing why he might be one of the best in the class after all.
To dismiss Robinson's rookie year because it didn't stack up with, say, Odell Beckham's isn't really fair. Again, Bortles was the worst quarterback in the league, and only (ironically, fellow rookie) Derek Carr was close to his awfulness. Carr's Passing NEP of -40.94, though, wasn't really in the same league of bad as Bortles' (-97.97), so Bortles' receivers should be dealt with in a special way.
When looking at the rest of the 2014 Jaguar receivers, though, Robinson's numbers don't exactly show clear-cut breakout potential -- unless we're approaching it with a hindsight bias.
|Player||Rec||Rec NEP||Targets||Target NEP||Rec NEP/Target||Catch Rate||Rec Success Rate|
Allen Hurns led the group in Reception NEP, which indicates how many points he added to Jacksonville's expected scoring on his receptions. His mark of 52.01, however, ranked him just 55th among 81 receivers with at least 60 targets. That's not exactly exciting.
On a per-target basis, Hurns again was best, but he was only 65th among the 81-receiver set. Robinson was 70th, Lee was 71st, and Shorts was 81st (i.e. worst among the group).
Now, Robinson did have the best Target NEP of the Jaguars corps, but it ranked just 61st among the 81 receivers with at least 60 targets. His catch rate was also the best, but it ranked 44th. And only 38 of his 48 receptions actually added points to the team's expected scoring (79.17 percent). That ranked 63rd.
Among an underwhelming group of pass catchers on a not-great team, Robinson's metrics didn't stand out too greatly -- unless you were looking for reasons to see it that way (which can be hard because of his assumed potential relative to this group).
In 2015, it's easier to see that Robinson has what it takes.
Jacksonville's New Look
In 2015, Bortles has shown improvement, a big factor for Robinson's production. The costly interceptions are still there, but his Passing NEP is on the right side of zero.
Through Week 6, Bortles owned a Passing NEP of 15.93, a score that ranked 20th among all quarterbacks. He was also 20th in Passing Success Rate, the percentage of drop backs that led to NEP gains, among 32 passers with at least 100 drop backs.
Robinson has been a key reason for that.
Through Week 6, Robinson -- on 28 catches and 60 targets -- owned a Reception NEP of 44.45, which ranked 11th among all receivers. Among 30 receivers with at least 40 targets, Robinson's Reception NEP per target (0.74) ranked 13th -- not exactly stellar.
However, all of his 28 catches added positive NEP gains to the Jags, which means that his production hasn't relied on garbage receptions. Only one other receiver (DeAndre Hopkins, 98.08 percent) owned a mark higher than 93 percent.
Those are positive signs, but one other name on the list calls Robinson's ostensible development into question: Allen Hurns.
Now, just because Hurns is having a good year doesn't mean Robinson isn't playing great football, but the Jaguars' duo is performing well together.
Through Week 6, Hurns owned a better Reception NEP (46.53, ranking seventh among 40-plus-target receivers) than Robinson and the best per-target Reception NEP (1.08) while still yielding a top-four Success Rate (93.10 percent) compared to the 30 receivers in the subset.
It's possible that Hurns is benefiting from easier coverage, as defenses treat Robinson as the primary threat, but it's still clear that -- through the first six games -- Hurns was more productive and more efficient.
Again, it's not a clear knock on Robinson, but all aspects of the passing offense seem to be trending up -- not just Robinson.
Week 7 and Consistency
But as we hone in on Robinson, there's really no reason not to be excited.
In Week 7, when the Jags played Buffalo in London, both Hurns and Robinson snared touchdowns, but Robinson had the better day.
Catching 6 of 9 targets, Robinson produced 98 yards and a touchdown, which accrued 10.36 Reception NEP, according to our initial tallies from numberFire Live. Hurns' 2-catch, 8-target day did include 53 yards and a score, but his Reception NEP of 5.08 wasn't on par with Robinson's.
Week 7 was Robinson's sixth straight game with at least 68 receiving yards. He's also had at least 9 targets in every game (interestingly swapping between 12 and 9 targets each week since Week 2) in his past 6 contests, and he had 6 in Week 1.
This was also Robinson's third straight game with at least one touchdown and the fourth in seven games with at least one score, giving him six end zone visits in seven games.
Aside from the nightmarish matchup with Josh Norman in Week 1, which saw Robinson held to a single 27-yard reception, he has posted at least 8.8 half-PPR points in each week since Week 2. Five of those six games were double-digit outings, and he's netted at least 17.6 in four of those six, including three straight.
Full Speed Ahead
As of October 26th -- prior to Monday Night Football -- the Jaguars have thrown on 62.77 percent of their plays, the ninth-highest rate in the NFL, and that's after airing it out on just 49.21 percent of their plays in Week 7. The passing volume should be reliable going forward, as they owned the worst per-play pass defense in the NFL entering Week 7, according to our adjusted metrics, and were 30th in overall per-play defense.
Robinson -- based on his target numbers since Week 2 (10.5 per game) -- would be setting up for a 168-target pace over a full season. Even with "just" 6 Week 1 targets, he's on pace for 157 on the year.
Hurns might combat him for the best receiving analytics on the team, but Robinson is getting big volume on a pass-heavy team that is surprisingly competent through the air. If things keep going his way, he can compete to be a low-end WR1 in fantasy formats the rest of the season.