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Buy the Dip: Allen Robinson Bounce Back Is Coming

allen robinson fantasy football rankings NFL injury news

Players fall off in fantasy football all the time. Age and a decline in talent catches up to all players, except Tom Brady. When a player is coming off of his worst season, especially when it's a player's eighth year in the NFL, it is easy to say he has fallen off. 

You may have figured out by now that I am talking about Allen Robinson. Robinson, in 12 games last year, posted just 66 targets, 38 receptions, 410 yards, and one touchdown, all career lows (excluding his 2017 season, when he tore his ACL in Week 1). The assumption in early drafts was that he is washed, as he was going off the board as a WR4, sometimes even later. 

Robinson signed a three-year, $46.5 million contract with $30.7 million guaranteed with the Rams, meaning that at least one team still believes in his abilities. Should fantasy players believe in him or should they be fading the former star? 

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

What Went Wrong in 2021

In 2022 Allen Robinson finished as the WR81 in total points and the WR85 in fantasy PPG, averaging just 7.3 per game. That was after Robinson finished Top-10 in total points and Top-12 in PPG in each of his past two seasons. He was being drafted as a WR1 last year and never topped 11 fantasy points or 70 yards in any game. Robinson had one of the strangest seasons in recent memory. He posted career lows across the board including in yards per reception (10.8), touchdowns (one), catches per game (3.2), yards per target (6.2), and his catch rate (57.6 percent) was the lowest since his Jaguars days. Of all the Bears receivers that saw at least 15 targets last year, Robinson ranked last in yards per target (6.2) and was second lowest in yards per route run (1.3) behind only Damiere Byrd (0.9).

A year ago, Robinson averaged 8.3 yards per target and 2.2 yards per route ran. Robinson,  at the age of 28 years old, just fell off a cliff. He also completely fell off as a priority in this offense, as he had seen over 150 targets in the two years prior (in 16 game seasons) and was on pace for just 94 targets over a 17-game season (he missed time and finished with 66). 

Robinson did suffer an ankle sprain in Week 5 and a hamstring strain in Week 9, the latter costing him three games. Perhaps the injuries played a part in his down 2021 season, but he was off to an awful start before getting hurt. He also struggled to find any sort of production with Justin Fields. Robinson struggled regardless of who the QB was, but he averaged 8.16 fantasy PPG with Andy Dalton and just 6.89 with Fields. 

While Robinson is not without blame for his down 2021 season, we do have to look at the full picture of what went into his struggles. We can attest that he once again had poor QB play. He made it clear before 2021 that he did not want to be franchise-tagged and even took shots at the city of Chicago itself. He was then franchised and had to play under a lame-duck coach in Matt Nagy (not to mention the carousel of play callers throughout the year). He had to start the year with Dalton, who is purely a backup QB at this level of his career, and then had Fields, who Nagy tried to force into a pocket passer. Fields also objectively struggled as a rookie, completing just 58.9 percent of passes with a higher interception rate (3.7 percent) than a touchdown rate (2.6 percent). There is no debate that Robinson was not put in a position to succeed in 2021, but could that change in 2022? 

 

Making the Case for a Bounce Back in 2022

First, the Rams clearly believe in Robinson’s talent after the contract they gave him in free agency. They also have not brought in any other receivers, whether that be in free agency or the draft. Robinson will also be playing with the best QB of his career. I know you are tired of hearing that when it comes to Robinson, but it is undeniably true. His other QBs include Blake Bortles, Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles, and the duo of Dalton and Fields last year. Stafford last year threw for 4,886 yards and 41 touchdowns, with a 6.8 percent touchdown rate. Naturally, there will be more production to go around with the Rams than the Bears.

Additionally, there is still volume up for grabs for Robinson. Last year the Rams' second receiver, which was a revolving door of Robert Woods, Van Jefferson, and Odell Beckham Jr., averaged 7.4 targets per game. Before getting injured, Woods was seeing 7.7 targets per game with a 22 percent target share – 23 percent in the red zone. However, it was an odd season that saw a lot of changes due to injury and acquisitions. The year prior, Woods averaged over eight targets per game.

There is a path for Robinson to see over eight targets per game here for the Rams. Even if Robinson is starting to fall off talent-wise from the alpha he used to be, he will no longer be asked to play that role. The Rams have Cooper Kupp, who is coming off of the greatest season a receiver not named Jerry Rice has ever put up. Kupp will remain the top target here and will be the one to garner the most defensive attention. That should lead to more one-on-ones with Kupp. Just think back to how bad Odell Beckham Jr. looked before joining the Rams. He was deemed washed by many but looked rejuvenated and ended up being a productive fantasy option with the Rams as well. In fact, before getting injured in the Super Bowl, he was the Rams' most productive piece in that game. Going to a situation with a better play caller, offense, quarterback and more receiving help around him should have the same effect on Robinson. 

As always in fantasy football, it all comes down to cost. In real early drafts, he was going as a WR4, sometimes later. There were times when he would fall out of the Top-100 picks in drafts. His ADP has steadily been climbing since he signed with the Rams, but he can still be had at a value. Right now in FFPC drafts, he is the WR24 with an ADP of 59th overall. That is the earliest of different sites. In NFFC drafts Robinson is currently the WR25 with an ADP of 63 overall and on Underdog his ADP is the 25th receiver off the board. We routinely saw both Kupp and Robert Woods finish as Top-20 options with the Rams. In fact, Woods has finished Top-20 in fantasy PPG in each of the last five years. Kupp has done so in three of the last four seasons. There is no reason the top two Rams receivers can’t both continue to finish inside the Top-20, especially considering they have a much better QB now. 

Robinson, unless he lost his talent Space Jam style last year, should be able to return to a WR2 floor, with the upside of finishing inside the Top-15, if not even higher. While it is becoming more and more costly to acquire him, take advantage of the discount you can still get on him. Robinson should be going well inside the Top-20 WRs off the board. Buy the dip and enjoy what LARob (such a cool nickname) gives you this season! 

Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio



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