Cleat Geeks

#ManCrush Monday Series: Allen Robinson

This is the fifth in a series of articles that will all include the hashtag #ManCrush in which I will highlight specific players that I have fallen in love with in terms of fantasy football and why I am excited about their 2018 season and beyond. Some aspects of subsequent articles may stem from previous articles, so I encourage you to read them all. I also encourage you to check out each of the links for a more in depth look at what makes these players so special.

 

This past season, I acquired Allen Robinson via trade in my dynasty league AFTER his injury in a high risk, high reward kind of way. Let’s just say that what has transpired since that trade has not been in my favor, and I need Robinson to come through for me going forward. The situation will become more clear as we go. But first, I need to tell you my love story.

Being a Michigan State fan my whole life, I got the opportunity to watch Robinson destroy Big Ten opponents during his junior season at Penn State in 2013. I’m honestly glad my Spartans never had to deal with him, but sad that we couldn’t bring the Detroit native to East Lansing a few years earlier. That season, Robinson had 97 receptions for 1,432 yards and 6 touchdowns, including 8 games over 100 yards.

Robinson entered the draft a year early and was a part of the now high-profile 2014 WR class that featured Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin, Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry, and others. Robinson was drafted 61st overall by the Jaguars, who had grabbed QB Blake Bortles in round 1 with the 3rd overall pick. On paper, it was an ideal situation for Robinson, being able to start his career with the quarterback the Jaguars were hoping would be their franchise guy. In addition, the Jags’ receiving corps was at the time led by Cecil Shorts and 2012 first round pick Justin Blackmon, who has not played a game in the NFL since October 2013 due to repeated violations of the league’s substance abuse policy.

As it turned out, Bortles didn’t make the transition to the NFL as well as some may have liked, struggling with interceptions and sacks in his 13 starts in 2014. This didn’t bode well for Robinson and the Jags’ receivers; none of them even surpassed 700 yards. The Jacksonville offense ranked last in the league, which translated to a 3-13 record. No quite what we had in mind.

Flash forward to the 2015 season. Some call this season an anomaly for Bortles on his four year resume, and while that argument may carry some weight if you watch his play over the course of that season, Bortles through for close to 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns. That’s what can happen when you target Allen Robinson 150 times. Even when Bortles made reckless throws into coverage that no quarterback should have made, Robinson did his job and came down with the catch more often than not. Robinson was a downfield threat and a red zone nightmare. All in all, Robinson’s breakout sophomore season resulted in 80 catches, 1,400 yards, 14 touchdowns, and his first Pro-Bowl selection.

The constant deep ball didn’t work out as well for Bortles and Robinson in 2016, and the Jaguars offense regressed. Robinson’s 73-883-6 season line wasn’t terrible by any means, but a huge drop from a year prior. To start the 2017 season, on the third play from scrimmage, Robinson suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, costing him his entire season in a contract year. [Later that season is when I made the move for Robinson. I traded away my 1st and 2nd round picks, Larry Fitzgerald, and Orleans Darkwa and received Robinson, Cameron Meredith, Doug Martin, and Terrelle Pryor. This was based on the assumption that my picks would be in the middle of the rounds, Fitz would retire, and the players I was getting would bounce back in 2018.]

As free agency came upon us in March, the Jaguars had a decision to make with Robinson. He was an unrestricted free agent and would be one of the most coveted receivers on the market. Teams knew what Robinson was capable of, but two years removed from that 2015 season and now coming off an ACL injury, there was some risk for the Jags in paying to keep him. They considered placing the franchise tag on Robinson, which would have cost them nearly $16 million in 2018. In the end, the Jaguars let Robinson walk in a controversial move, especially considering the players they elected to keep and sign, along with picking up Bortles’ fifth year option. Robinson signed a 3-year, $42 million dollar contract with the Chicago Bears.

Now Robinson finds himself in a similar situation to the one he was in in 2014. The Bears drafted their quarterback of the future in Mitchell Trubisky last April, and he already has his rookie season under his belt. The Bears’ receiving corps has no veteran presence, 2015 first round pick Kevin White has probably only one more season to prove he’s not a complete bust, and the Bears lost restricted free agent Meredith to the Saints after declining to match their offer sheet. The Bears signed Marlon Brown last Thursday, but apart from the 7 touchdowns he posted in 2013, he was never a big factor in his time with the Ravens. Robinson enters as the de facto #1 receiver in former Chiefs’ offensive coordinator and new head coach Matt Nagy’s offense heading into 2018.

Without a quality running mate opposite him to draw defenders away, Robinson will most likely not be the most efficient receiver, but he should earn close to the 150 targets he had in consecutive seasons with the Jaguars, and he is going to be a huge weapon in the red zone. Someone will have to emerge for the Bears for them and Robinson to reach their true potential. Nagy and new offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich (former head coach of Oregon) will surely be creative and use speed mismatches to create space and make an NFL offense have more of that “spread” feel. Nagy and the Bears brought Taylor Gabriel over from the Falcons, who is essentially a poor man’s Tyreek Hill, and still have the skill set of Tarik Cohen at their disposal. They also acquired an athletic tight end in Trey Burton. If you include the threat of Jordan Howard on the ground, Trubisky and Bears have a young team with potential, and if all goes well, I see no reason why Robinson can’t be successful as he was in 2015.

I put Robinson’s floor at 75-1,000-7. Despite the injury, from which he will have had a full recovery period, he is driven. In fact, he’s held onto the hospital wristband from that surgery as extra motivation. He is undoubtedly talented, and has been compared to Dez Bryant in his prime for his size and ability to win heavily contested jump balls consistently. He’s excited, and you should be too.

[Note: To finish the rest of the story involving my trade….

Fitzgerald has decided to return for 2018, and my season went south after the trade and the picks that ended up being the ones I traded away were the 1.01 and 2.01. As for my newly acquired players, all four of them have moved to new teams. Martin joined a crowded backfield with new Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden, Pryor decided to go back to poor quarterback play and signed with the Jets, Meredith is going to New Orleans, and Robinson is with the Bears. Meredith could pan out if he can claim the slot role, but with the running back duo the Saints have along with already having a top receiver in Michael Thomas, it’s not ideal. So this is why I desperately need Robinson to ball out in 2018 and save this from being the worst trade I’ve made. Either that or the certain 1.01 Saquon Barkley needs to be a bust, which is extremely unlikely.]

 

Thanks for reading! Be sure to go back and read all my other #ManCrush articles if you haven’t already! Stayed tuned for my next #ManCrush piece on Cardinals’ safety Budda Baker! Check out all my work and follow me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz.

 

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