Allen Robinson - Deal or No Deal?

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What do we do with Allen Robinson? Guys like him are some of the most difficult players to analyze. He doesn't have great straight line speed, but Robinson's workout metrics are otherwise all in the upper echelon of WRs. His speed, burst, agility, and catch radius are all in the top third in the league or higher. In 2015, all of Robinson's efficiency metrics were positive. He was seeing a ton of volume and he was doing more things with that volume than the average receiver.

In 2016, the volume did not change at all (I mean literally did not change, he saw exactly 151 targets in each of the past two seasons). His catch percentage only dropped slightly from 53% to 48.3%. So what went wrong? His efficiency tumbled. No - "tumbled" is not the right word. Plummeted? Took a nose dive? Whatever word you want to use for "went really far down really fast," use that. It was a mess. He ranked outside the top 90 in yards per target and catch rate. He was 89th in fantasy points per target. His yards per reception dipped from 17.5 to 12.1.

Blake Bortles deserves some of the blame, but the fact remains, Robinson just did not play well. What does this mean for 2017?

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Allen Robinson: Man of Mystery

We can all agree that Robinson will probably never have a season as good as his 2015. We can also agree that Robinson will probably never have a season as bad as his 2016. As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. But, not all of the "middle" is created equal. If he can actually perform in the middle of the last two seasons, we would take that at his 5.05 WR26 ADP. He would probably outperform that draft position. However, we have a number of problems. Inexplicably, Blake Bortles is still his QB. While I would place the odds of Bortles starting 16 games this season firmly at 0%, he will at least get the first few games. The good news is that Bortles will force feed the ball to ARob because Bortles is incapable of reading a defense and progressing beyond his primary read. Bortles decides who he wants to throw to before the snap and makes the throw regardless of whether the target is open. More often than not, that target is Robinson. The volume will remain, but how good is the volume if it's not catchable?

Robinson saw double digit targets in more than half of his games in 2016 (nine). His performance was awful in just one of those games. In the other seven games where he saw eight or fewer targets, he was unstartable in all of them. Robinson was entirely volume dependent in 2016. Will he see the volume in 2017? I tend to think not - or at least not at the same level he's used to. The Jaguars have significantly improved their defense. They have a healthy Dante Fowler and they signed elite shutdown corner, AJ Bouye away from Houston. That defense is going to keep them in games. The less garbage time there is, the lesser ARob's opportunity becomes. Doug Marrone has gone on record saying he wants to run as much as possible. Drafting Leonard Fournette corresponds with that outlook. Additionally, when Chad Henne inevitably takes over, we have no idea what his approach will be. Is he going to target Robinson as much as Bortles? What happens if Henne is so bad he gets benched for the best QB on the roster, Brandon Allen? There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding Robinson.

Another concern is how motivated Robinson is going to be. Robinson is clearly fed up with Bortles. That could lead to him taking more plays off or not giving 100% on every play. Would a switch to Henne or Allen motivate Robinson? Maybe. It's difficult to know what Robinson is thinking. What we do know is that he has shown the top level talent to be an elite WR in the NFL. If circumstances break right and the team is competitive while Henne or Allen step in and perform well (because I will not acknowledge a scenario where Bortles performs well), Robinson could return high WR2 value. The upside is there. At his high end WR3 cost, the risk is not too great. If Robinson can experience a moderate improvement in QB play, he should easily eclipse his draft value. I am more buyer than seller of ARob outside the top 24. If you can get him late fifth round or anywhere in the sixth, I'm all in. Remember, this was a guy going at the first/second round turn in 2016 drafts.

So, deal or no deal? It's not that simple. I would take the deal, but only if the price is right...or should I say "Deal!"

 

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