Only two rookie running backs are officially on the top of their respective depth charts: Clyde Edwards-Helaire and James Robinson. Edwards-Helaire, of course, was the first running back off the board and should thrive in a high-powered Kansas City offense. James Robinson, meanwhile, is an undrafted free agent playing in arguably the worst offense in football. With Leonard Fournette gone and Ryquell Armstead on the COVID list, Robinson beat out Devine Ozigbo for the starting role. What can fantasy owners expect from this unknown running back, and can he be a decent flex play?
Fantasy Football: James Robinson Outlook
James Robinson Scouting Report
Despite going undrafted, James Robinson is actually a pretty good athlete. According to PlayerProfiler, Robinson tested in the 92nd percentile in Burst Score, 69th percentile in Agility Score, and 89th percentile in SPARQ-x score. Athleticism is very important for running backs, and Robinson has the raw athleticism required to succeed in the NFL. Additionally, he also has elite collegiate production, finishing in the 97th percentile with a 48.7% rushing market share.
Metrics are nice, but there’s no substitute for actually watching him on the field. As a player, Robinson can read blocks and pick up what’s provided. He makes guys miss in the short part of the field but doesn’t have the long speed to make too many big plays. Once again, his testing backs this up, as he recorded an underwhelming 4.64 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
Robinson has the talent to take a decent portion of Jacksonville’s carries, but it’s hard to see him doing much in the passing game. The Illinois State product recorded just 16 receptions for 80 yards as a senior, and he didn’t look particularly special as a receiver. While his pass-blocking was decent enough, it’s not going to earn him too many third-down looks.
Fit in Jacksonville
James Robinson has what it takes to be a decent NFL running back, but that might not be good enough for fantasy football. Situation dictates production more than the actual runner, and that’s especially true said running back isn’t going to be a huge factor in the receiving game.
The Jacksonville Jaguars boast what is probably the worst roster in the league. The team is blatantly tanking, selling off established veterans on both sides of the ball. This means that Jacksonville will have a hard time scoring and stopping the other team from putting up points. This projected game script is a kiss of death for a player like Robinson, as it means Jacksonville will probably throw early and often to keep up with their opponent. As discussed in the start/sit article, Chris Thompson is going to see the pass-catching work, so Robinson probably won’t even be the best fantasy back in Jacksonville.
Additionally, it’s hard to imagine Devine Ozigbo getting completely phased out of the game. Robinson is going to see the majority of the early-down carries, but he’s not going to have complete control of the backfield. These two will split snaps, limiting what is already an underwhelming ceiling.
Ultimately, James Robinson is a decent talent playing in a terrible situation. Jacksonville’s low-scoring offense means Robinson won’t have touchdown upside, and the terrible defense means that Chris Thompson will probably see most of the pass-catching work. Robinson is a worthy stash on your bench, but you shouldn’t start him unless you’re truly desperate.
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