Allen Robinson has become dramatically undervalued as fantasy draft season apexes.
This article is the shining achievement of my three-season tenure at RotoViz.
Two years ago, my 12th article published on the site was about Brandon Marshall. He was coming off an injury-shortened season as WR34, on a new team with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his quarterback, and was 31-years old.
Drafted as the WR25, he would finish the season as the WR3.
Last year, this piece was about T.Y. Hilton. He was coming off a year as the WR23, badly underperforming when Andrew Luck missed several games, and thought to be facing stiff competition from thought-to-be rising star Donte Moncrief.
Drafted as the WR15, he would finish the season as the WR5.
This year, there wasn’t someone who stood out to me like these players, and I wasn’t going to write this piece.
- I love Stefon Diggs, but he has never shown the production for an entire season that would make him fit this criteria. He’s also never been more expensive.
- I believe in Keenan Allen, and don’t believe in injury curses, but he’s never finished higher than WR18 in a season, and won’t fall much past that in any draft.
- I had considered Jeremy Maclin, when he was still a Chief, but he got released, then went to a team with much better WRs, and his price somehow went up.
- Alshon Jeffery will always have my heart, but it’s been four years since he finished in the top-40, Carson Wentz is probably terrible, and he’s really not that cheap.
- Mike Wallace is going to obliterate his ADP, but his ceiling isn’t anywhere near the top five.
No, I was going to let this year go by and not force this piece about someone who didn’t quite fit; then I had my first two ESPN drafts at the beginning of this week, and saw Allen Robinson has an ADP of WR26.
As My Fantasy League’s MFL10s wind down, he has fallen to WR19 over the last week.
|2016 WR19 - WR26||198.2 - 213.5|
|2012 - 2016 Avg WR19||219.8|
|2012 - 2016 Avg WR26||197.9|
|Sim Scores||185.6 - 265.6|
My exposure has skyrocketed to 24.4 percent, with three of 11 shares acquired in the nine drafts that are still going on. The only WRs I have higher exposure to are the far cheaper Wallace and Kenny Stills.
Robinson is in my second tier of WRs, which is three names long, and spans my WR10 to WR12.
This is why.
ALLEN ROBINSON, PAST PRODUCTION, AND OTHER WRS
Other than “Zero RB”, the phrase most commonly used to encapsulate everything that is RotoViz would be “targets are the lifeblood of fantasy scoring“.
This was written in 2015:
Getting up over the 145 number in targets will also mean about a WR12 finish. You’re better off counting on your player landing somewhere around league average in efficiency, than you are planning for him to wildly exceed league average in efficiency. That’s why the targets are so important.
Here’s what happened in the two seasons since that was written:
|Season||145+ Tgt WRs||Fantasy Finishes|
|2016||10||WR1, WR2, WR3, WR4, WR5, WR9, WR12, WR27, WR28|
|2015||12||WR1, WR2, WR3, WR4, WR5, WR6, WR7, WR9, WR11, WR12, WR17, WR22|
If a player amassed 145 targets in either of the last two seasons, they were likelier to finish inside the top four than they were to finish outside of the top 10.
There are only five players to amass 145 targets in both of the last two seasons: Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Crabtree, and Robinson.
T.J. Hernandez of 4for4 agrees with us, concluding that over the last ten years, targets/game are the most predictive WR stat year-over-year.
Robinson was eighth last season in targets per game, but a very worrisome 29th, 38th, and 34th in the next three most predictive WR stats in that table.1
What if the last two years are looked at as a whole, instead of just last season?
Here’s how Robinson compares in those four stats to the seven WRs going ahead of him in ESPN’s ADP:
He’s top three among that group in targets, yards, and fantasy points per game.
He’s not reportedly being shopped in trades like Jarvis Landry, or having to stave off first-round pick DeVante Parker, and re-signed free agent Kenny Stills. He also isn’t playing with an unretired QB they signed out of emergency earlier this month, or on the offense that threw the fewest passes in football last season.
He’s also not staving off last year’s breakout star Tyrell Williams, a WR drafted seventh overall this year in Mike Williams, and two different tight ends that had eight TDs last season.2 He’s also not coming off a torn ACL, and one game appearance in the last 23 months.
Robinson has the 12th-highest ceiling according to our Sim Scores, and the only one on that list above with a higher one is Golden Tate, who is 11th. Robinson also has the tenth-highest floor, and the only one on that list above with a higher one is Landry, who is eighth.
Want a combo of higher ceiling and higher floor than Robinson? Then hope you have a top-10 overall pick, because the only ones with a better combo, that aren’t likely playing with Scott Tolzien Week 1, are Brown, Beckham, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, A.J. Green, and Jordy Nelson.
Should Robinson really be going that far below the seven alphas? Well, yes.
The case for Robinson over Michael Thomas or Brandin Cooks, who are also both in my first tier, also feels tenuous considering the incredibly positive change in their situations.
What about the rest of WRs in between the ADPs of tier one and Robinson, though?
As mentioned, there are two other WRs in my tier two with Robinson, and they’re Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper The rest of that group though?
- Hopkins finished one spot above Robinson last year, is beginning the season with Tom Savage and likely transitioning at some point to rookie DeShaun Watson. Other than six games at the beginning of 2015, which involved long-gone Brian Hoyer and Arian Foster, he produces as a low-end WR2.
- Demaryius Thomas is playing in a new offense, coming off his worst season since 2011, and was nearly even with Emmanuel Sanders last year as the team’s WR1.
- Doug Baldwin has never had more than 125 targets in a season, and before last year had never had more than 103, both the result of everything falling his way. He’s also never finished higher than WR8. Robinson finished as the WR6 the year before last and has back-to-back seasons with 150 targets, at 22 and 23 years old.
- Michael Crabtree is undervalued and underappreciated, but Robinson has (slightly) more targets, yards, and points over the last two years, at a significantly younger age. Crabtree has also never had more than 1,105 yards in a season, and that was five years ago. He’s never scored more than nine TDs, or finished higher than WR12. Robinson had 1,400 yards and 14 TDs in his WR6 season.
Thomas, Baldwin, and Crabtree will all turn 30-years old in the next 12 months; Robinson just turned 24.
That being said, it’s borderline offensive Terrelle Pryor is being drafted with any of these guys. He finished as the WR21 last year, and the best WR on Jay Gruden’s Redskins the last three years was WR22, WR32, and WR23. Prior to last season, Pryor had nine career NFL targets in 26 years on this Earth.
People want to pretend he’s going to be 2013 Green from Gruden’s Bengals? Green might be the best player in football at any position, and 2013 may have been his absolute peak. I want to have sex with Angie Dickinson, let’s see who gets lucky first.
THE CASE AGAINST
So what’s the problem? Why is Robinson’s price cratering?
Worried about Blake Bortles‘ preseason woes? He looked like he didn’t belong in the league heading into 2015, then finished the year as QB3.
Who cares if he loses his job to Chad Henne? Robinson probably doesn’t. He’s had a meaningless 11 career targets from Henne, so it’s irrelevant than it’s for a higher adjusted yards per attempt than the 370 targets he’s had from Bortles.
This preseason, Robinson has four catches on eight targets for 34 yards from Bortles, and three catches for 56 yards on six targets from Henne. These guys really don’t look all that different, and again, neither look close to as bad as Bortles did after his rookie year.
Is the concern that he’s coming off a year being so inefficient?
The below chart is from an article that discusses how Robinson and the Jaguars entire offense had wildly high weekly variance, which is another positive speaking to his tremendous fantasy value. Not only did Hurns finish as WR19 when Robinson was the WR6, but he’s reportedly on the trading block, and they’re priced so similarly as a group to 2015, it’s eerie.
|Allen Robinson||Allen Hurns||Marqise Lee||Blake Bortles|
If someone told you a year ago that Robinson would be getting drafted around where he was drafted in 2015, you’d think he had a Jason Pierre-Paul-esque fireworks accident this summer.
Worried their defense will improve, meaning there will be less garbage-time passing? Their Vegas win total is 6.5 games, better than only the Jets, Cleveland, San Francisco, Los Angeles Rams, and Chicago.
Think Leonard Fournette will be the focal point of an offense that runs more? He hasn’t played, and barely practiced, since their first preseason game, with a foot injury that has nagged him since college. They are also below league median in returning percent of offensive lineman snaps, a key indicator for RB success.
If you have an ESPN draft in the next week, move Robinson up about 20 spots from his 58th overall ADP. If you move him up 22 more after that, you’ll have ranked in the same spot I do.