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Dynasty Price Check - James Robinson

We continue with our evaluation of the dynasty league value of high-profile players in our Dynasty Price Check series. Should you trade them or trade for them? Are they being overvalued or undervalued by dynasty players?

We've already covered Ezekiel Elliott, which you can read here.

Today, we'll be looking at Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson.

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James Robinson Background

An UDFA this past season, James Robinson entered the NFL without much hype. Even when I mentioned Robinson in my dynasty UDFA article last season, he was only there because of the lack of experience behind Leonard Fournette. I didn't expect Robinson to suddenly become what he became, which was a high-usage fantasy RB1 as a rookie.

But that's what happened. The Jaguars moved on from Fournette before the season started and Ryquell Armstead caught COVID-19. When Jacksonville didn't make a move for another back, it meant either Robinson or Devine Ozigbo was going to be the lead back. Robinson won the job out of camp and went on to rush for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns. He also caught 49 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns. He was the RB4 in 0.5-PPR leagues and the RB7 in points per game.

Among players to play in at least 12 games, Robinson led all running backs in position attempt rate:

No running back had a higher percentage of their team's overall carries or a higher percentage of their team's running back carries. Jacksonville under Doug Marrone had always been kind of a one-back team, and it seems that the reason wasn't just that they had Leonard Fournette. It was just how things went in Jacksonville.


Dynasty Outlook

See that sentence above about Doug Marrone? Well, he's gone. Jacksonville welcomes a first-time NFL head coach in Urban Meyer, a name that should be familiar if you've ever watched college football, as he won national titles at Florida and Ohio State.

So, how did Meyer use his running backs at Ohio State? Because that might give us a clue about how he'll use them in the NFL.

In his final year at Ohio State, J.K. Dobbins had 230 carries, with Mike Weber getting 172. The year before, Dobbins had 194 to Weber's 101.

But in 2015, when he had a workhorse back in Ezekiel Elliott, Elliott had 289 carries and the next running back in carries was Curtis Samuel at 17 of them. So, Meyer has definitely used the kind of one-back system that Marrone has, but it happened when he had an elite talent at running back.

Is Robinson that kind of talent? Or will the Jaguars bring in another running back who'll siphon off touches?

Robinson's efficiency stats suggest to me that while he's definitely talented, he might not be "can be trusted to still get 95 percent of the positional carries with a new coaching staff" level of talented. He was 32nd in true yards per carry, 18th in big runs, and 17th in yards created per touch. He also was barely used at the goal line.

I think there's a clear path for Jacksonville to give another running back touches. Maybe Urban Meyer looks for someone in the draft. Maybe he looks for a cheap option in free agency.

Or maybe Robinson winds up with the same kind of role. Maybe he is that good. Maybe he'll buck the trends of UDFA running backs:

NFL talent evaluators miss sometimes. But history suggests that they don't miss that bad on UDFA running backs. There have been some good ones like Arian Foster, but it'd be a surprise if Robinson is actually an elite talent who everyone missed on. It's more likely that he's merely a good running back who was in an elite situation. The league's full of good running backs. It's not full of elite situations, though, and if we knew Robinson's situation wasn't changing, I'd be super high on him. But the coaching change brings in too much uncertainty.


What's He Worth?

What to do with Robinson this offseason? Sell high!

I'm in a fantasy football Facebook group where someone posted this week that they were offered the 1.02 this year for James Robinson and they wanted to know if they should take it.

The answer for me is clear on this: YES.

As I said above, Robinson is a good running back who was in an elite situation. But if you're offered an early first for Robinson, you have a chance to get a player who is even more talented than Robinson and could potentially be in an even better position going forward.

I would treat Robinson as a low-end RB2 this offseason. If you can get a player who can produce more than that for him --  another young running back, a wide receiver like Odell Beckham Jr., or a top-five tight end, I'd do it.

I might have more hesitance if I was offered a low first. If my choice was between Robinson and the 1.09, for instance, I'd probably go with the high floor that Robinson brings over the mystery that the pick would provide.

Don't just try to get rid of Robinson to get rid of him. But also, don't hold him with the hopes that he'll become an elite RB1. Find a balance in the middle, and then make your Robinson plans accordingly.

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