2018 Fantasy Football Free Agency: How will Allen Robinson fare with the Bears?
The Bears' receiving corps got an instant upgrade with Allen Robinson joining the squad. Will he also upgrade your Fantasy team?
- Jamey Eisenberg's
The last time a Bears wide receiver had over 100 targets, over 900 yards and over five touchdowns? That would be 2014, when Alshon Jeffery posted up as a big-bodied outside target to help carry the offense.
In the three years since the Chicago offense was laughable thanks to a reeled-in, conservative gameplan under the order of coach John Fox. He's since been canned, fresh offensive thinker Matt Nagy is his replacement, and now the squad hopes Allen Robinson can do what Jeffery did in 2014 as the No. 1 receiver patrolling the outside.
Based on opportunity, Robinson should do okay. Based on downside and a lack of efficiency, Robinson's most realistic projection shows him falling short of 1,000 yards.
Chicago's offense figures to go the way of Philadelphia's – more aggressive and less identifiable. A healthy mix of Nagy's West Coast offense and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich's spread offense (just like the one Trubisky ran at North Carolina) should keep defenses on their toes. But it will also lead to Trubisky dialing up passes for several different players. Robinson might get more targets than his teammates, but new tight end Trey Burton, second-year burner Tarik Cohen, reliable receiver Cameron Meredith (who's coming off a torn ACL himself) and tight end Adam Shaheen, a physical beast, are certain to be regulars. Trubisky also has a tendency going back to his collegiate days to lean on the slot, a place where Robinson lined up just 17 percent of the time in 2015 and 2016.
It likely makes the 9.4 targets per game Robinson averaged with the Jaguars in 2015 and 2016 unattainable. But he shouldn't fall too far from it – an 8.0 per game target average would put him on pace for 126 throws over 16 games.
Robinson's catch rate is another concern. That number in Jacksonville was 52.6 percent, though to be fair that was with Blake Bortles. Trubisky should be at the very least a small upgrade at quarterback for Robinson, pushing the receiver's projected catch rate up. Even if it jumped to 55 percent, it means 70 catches for Chicago's newest Bear. Good, but not great.
The biggest issue is his receiving average. Robinson nailed down 1,400 yards in 2015 thanks to 17.5 yards per catch. Throwing out his one-game, three-catch 2017 "season," Robinson has had under 15 yards per catch in every other campaign he's played going back to his last two years at Penn State. His speed could also be affected by his ACL injury, though that's a factor we won't know for several months. A projection of 13.0 yards per catch might be considered generous, but we're putting some faith in Nagy's playcalling and Trubisky's ability to make it happen.
We saw Robinson score 14 times in 2015... and just six in 2016. While that kind of inconsistency might lead to heartburn, it should please you to know that 18 of Robinson's 20 touchdowns were red-zone grabs. His elite-trait route-running ability combined with a more accurate passer should result in a good dose of scores. Six seems low and eight (one every two games) seems high, so we'll settle on seven.
Early projection: 126 targets, 70 receptions, 910 yards, seven touchdowns.
The yardage and touchdown totals would put him close to the stats JuJu Smith-Schuster had in 2017. He finished as the No. 18 receiver in non-PPR Fantasy leagues with 126 points. If we were to add 70 points to that tally then the 196 points would result in a finish akin to Mike Evans' 20th-ranked finish in 2017.
What does it mean? Robinson should be drafted as a low-end No. 2 Fantasy receiver. Round 5 in non-PPR and late Round 4 in PPR formats should do the trick.
If he goes before then, it's because someone's buying into him being closer to that 2015 form that put him on the Fantasy map in the first place. Just remember, he's had a down year, an ACL tear and a new contract from a new team since then. Given those facts, it might be too big a leap of faith to count on a huge year for Robinson.
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