For the next few weeks before we get to focus on the NFL Draft, I’ll be laying the tracks for the RotoExperts Fantasy Football Hype Train to talk about some players who may end up being buzzed-about names heading into Fantasy draft season. This week, let’s see what we might be able to expect from Denard Robinson, a former college quarterback who burst on the scene this past season with some solid games for a very underwhelming Jaguars team.
There is a worthwhile distinction between “tweeners” and dual-eligibility players. Tweeners exist in two worlds, but don’t thrive in either. An example of this type of player is the athletic Tavon Austin of the Rams. He has the speed of a receiver, but doesn’t excel as a route runner. He has the feet, but not the hands. As a running back, he lacks the size to be a workhorse, so he has become a Swiss Army knife trick player who can do a few things well enough but doesn’t necessarily stand out in any one area. It’s a novelty that not many teams can afford to have unless the player contributes on special teams, which Austin does. Of the latter group of dual-eligible players there are only two that come to mind: Dexter McCluster is one, and Robinson is the other. Both claimed the WR/RB position on Yahoo! last season, which is almost the equivalent of a trick player in Fantasy Football, especially if the player receives RB touches at a high volume, and you can put him in as a WR2 or WR3.
For a few magical weeks, Shoelace provided his Fantasy owners with some very enjoyable Sundays. From Week 7 to Week 10, Robinson delivered 389 yards and four touchdowns while toting the rock 15 times or more in each (a high of 22 carries in Week 7!). He petered out after that with three very pedestrian games after a Week 11 bye before succumbing to a torn ligament in his foot. Even the coaching staff was surprised by Robinson’s success in his second season as a pro. Does this mean Fantasy Football players can expect Robinson to be installed as the de facto RB1 in Jacksonville next year? Not so fast …
Hype Train Outlook: Over-hyped. While it would make a great story if he was able to come back from injury to claim the lead back duties in Jacksonville, I think Robinson will find himself as more of a change-of-pace back, or possibly as a slot receiver in certain formations. Jacksonville will not focus on RB in the first round since they’re selecting third overall, but I would expect them to at least consider a player like Ameer Abdullah out of Nebraska, or Duke Johnson out of Miami in the second, or more likely the third round, if the team feels either could be an every down back in their scheme.
Depending on how camp and the preseason goes, some Fantasy players may reach for Shoelace as early as the fourth round thinking they’ve secured a RB2 on a team relatively light on offensive talent. But Robinson is probably a RB3/4, who seems unlikely to be able to meet the physical demands of being an every down back. I worry that the downside is greater than the upside here, but if he retains dual eligibility next season, and you grab him in the fifth round as your WR2 to pair with an elite WR1, there could be something there. That was the whole allure of Robinson in 2014 after his breakout Week 7 – what other WR2 was getting 20-plus touches a game? Not one. I expect the WR eligibility will be stripped if he’s listed as their starting or backup RB to start the season, so that may be a pipe dream for 2015. Robinson is worth a look as a gamble in re-draft leagues around the fifth and certainly worth a keeper in long-term and/or dynasty leagues just in case he pans out as a bona fide starter. But tread lightly if you think he can be your answer at RB2.
Front Image Credit: Keith Allison