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The NFL draft has finally ended. Which has ushered in a refreshing conclusion to all conjecture and uncertainty regarding the destinations of this year's rookie class. Now that we have witnessed the results, we can adjust our projections regarding how productive the rookies will be for their new teams. While the updated roster configurations have also increased the clarity with which we can forecast the value of returning veterans.

One of the more intriguing players to project at the wide receiver position has already delivered massive fluctuations in production, even though he is still just 24-years old. As a categorical breakout in his second season was followed by a monumental career descent that has created a degree of uncertainty concerning where his current value resides. Now, the focus has shifted toward Allen Robinson’s potential to resuscitate his numbers this season. Fantasy owners must determine their level of confidence that he can rebound sufficiently from the discouraging two-year sequence that has significantly lowered his stock.

He will be playing for a new franchise that had both the cap space and inclination to secure him with a long-term deal (3 years-$42,000 million). This has presented Robinson with a galvanizing opportunity to operate as Chicago’s clear WR1, while functioning within an offense that displays the promise of improvement and innovation. Here is a breakdown of why his value has fluctuated so radically, and where it exists in 2018.

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Robinson’s Rise In 2015

The process of determining Robinson’s value was much simpler two years ago. As his unremarkable rookie season in 2014 (8 starts/48 receptions/548 yards/2 touchdowns), had been followed by a statistical explosion in 2015. During which he tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns (14) and finished sixth with 1,400 yards. He was also named “Best Deep Threat Of 2015” by Pro Football Focus, after he generated 672 yards when collecting a league-high 31 receptions of 20+ yards.

Robinson’s accomplishments enabled him to compile a dazzling display of highlight-reel worthy receptions during his Pro Bowl season. This expedited Robinson’s ascension into a viable WR1 option, which resulted in a lofty ADP that reached the rarefied air of Round 1.

Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr. A.J. Green, and DeAndre Hopkins were the only wide receivers being selected before him. But this enthusiasm from owners was understandable, since he had seemingly scaled the mountain of fantasy options at his position. However, a precipitous decline in his production was about to ensue that would alter the path of his value and create an undesirable situation for those who had been inspired to draft him.

 

The Fall of 2016

The deterioration of Robinson’s stock was swift, and the its magnitude was unexpected. As he plunged to just 37th in yardage (883) during 2016, while his touchdown total was reduced by 57% (6). Worse, the initial absence of a clear explanation for Robinson’s inexplicable drop-off only intensified the perplexing process of determining why it occurred. Opportunities were not an issue, as Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald were the only two receivers who exceeded his snap count (1047). Which actually rose from the 983 that he was allotted during his stellar 2015 campaign. His target total was virtually unchanged (153/151), and was surpassed by just six other receivers. Even his 73 receptions did not represent an appreciable change from 2015 (80).

However, his YPG average decreased by over 32 yards (87.5/54.8), and his catches of 20+ yards plummeted to just 11. That was largely a byproduct of the deficiencies that existed with quarterback Blake Bortles, which was an undisputed factor in Robinson’s disappointing output. Bortles’ issues were widely discussed as that season progressed, as the words ‘accuracy’, and ‘mechanics’ were mainstays with any conversation regarding the Jaguar signal caller. Robinson also expressed his frustration with the tandem’s inability to connect on big plays at the same frequency that had existed in 2015.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bortles’ accuracy percentage on deep balls plunged from sixth in 2015, to a woeful 27th during the discouraging 2016 season. This reduction in big play production also constrained Robinson’s yardage and touchdown totals, which was primarily responsible for his enormous drop from WR6 to WR24, and a loss of 100+ fantasy points (304/199.3).

This coincided with the response from apprehensive owners following the season, as Robinson’s ADP tumbled four rounds due to the regressive trajectory of his still brier career. When reports that wayward throws from Bortles during Jacksonville’s 2017 training camp were supported by video of his errant passes, that only fortified the emerging concerns about Robinson’s ability to reestablish his place among the league’s most prolific receivers.

 

The Lost Season Of 2017

Still, Robinson was primed to continue running routes as the Jaguars’ WR1 in 2017. However, any chance for Robinson to reignite his big play capabilities, and reestablish his value, ended quickly during Jacksonville’s season opener. As he suffered a Grade 3 ACL tear that concluded his season after just three offensive snaps.

It would have been difficult for him to replicate the 150+ targets that he was allotted during his first two seasons even if he had remained injury free, as the team had placed greater emphasis on a Leonard Fournette-propelled ground game. Jacksonville’s pass play percentage (51%) was the NFL’s lowest in 2017, which was the first full season that Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett were both involved in the team’s attack. This likely was a contributing factor in the Jaguars' decision to avoid using the franchise or transition tag on Robinson prior to the onset of free agency. This accelerated his departure from the franchise, while affording Chicago the opportunity to secure him.

 

Robinson's Value In 2018

Now, Robinson's value is ascending once again. As he should thrive as the Bears’ primary receiving option, while being deployed as the team’s premiere downfield target for second-year signal caller Mitch Trubisky. His presence should inject much needed big play potential to an injury-decimated passing attack that ranked dead last in passing last season (176 YPG), while manufacturing a league-worst 13 touchdowns through the air. Kendall Wright ultimately led the team with just 614 yards, and no wide receiver could manage more than one touchdown.

While Robinson is the most prominent free agent acquisition who was obtained to elevate the firepower of Chicago's passing game, new head coach Matt Nagy was also hired to revive the team's attack. The 39-year-old Nagy coached under Andy Reid from 2008-2017, and steadily absorbed more responsibility until he was hired by the Bears (intern/assistant/quality control/quarterback coach/offensive coordinator). He also achieved positive results while calling plays for the Chiefs from Weeks 13-17. During that time period, Kansas City scored 28.6 points per game, while Tyreek Hill generated his most productive game of the season (185 yards/ 2 touchdowns), and averaged 114 YPG.

Nagy will concoct his personal strategic approach when designing the Bears' new offense. But elements from his extensive tenure under Reid (2008-2017) should be prevalent within a blend of ingredients from west coast and spread attacks. He will also have a mobile, young quarterback who should be capable of implementing the run-pass option in the new offense. Nagy has mentioned the need to exploit mismatches on multiple occasions when discussing his offensive approach. Even though he has avoided specifics, it only requires minimal imagination to visualize the 6'3" Robinson as the main component among receiving options within that philosophy.

Robinson should benefit from the arrival of fellow newcomers Anthony MillerTaylor Gabriel and Trey Burton, who should also bolster the Bears' attack, while forcing opponents to deploy resources toward containing weaponry beyond Robinson. Second-round pick Miller should elevate into the WR2 slot, with a role that increases steadily as the year progresses. However, even though Miller does provide fantasy appeal, Robinson will garner the most targets within the revamped offense. While Burton should be used in a hybrid role similar to how Travis Kelce was utilized while Nagy was with Kansas City. 

Even though Jordan Howard's status as the Bears' feature back is secure, Nagy will also take advantage of the playmaking skills that Tarik Cohen can deliver. He tied for seventh among backs in red zone targets as a rookie (11), and finished 10th in targets (75), despite playing on just 36% of Chicago’s offensive snaps. That number should rise, as Cohen's presence on the field presents another receiving option that will discourage opponents from focusing as heavily on Robinson.

Dynasty owners have justifiable reasons for optimism concerning Robinson’s value as he enters his age-25 season. This includes the knowledge that he is younger than Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, Keenan Allen, Adam Thielen, Jarvis Landry, Cooper Kupp, Josh Doctson, and DeVante Parker. Robinson is no longer encumbered by a quarterback whose shortcomings frequently jeopardize his ability to attain catchable balls, nor should he be relegated to shorter routes strictly to protect his signal caller. This enables owners to confidently start Robinson as their WR2, with the potential that he can provide low-end WR1 production during the season.

 

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