2021 Fantasy Football Outlook: James Robinson

James Robinson Fantasy Football

James Robinson was one of the surprises of the league in 2020. Though he was not selected in the 2020 NFL Draft, Robinson found himself the starting running back for Jacksonville in week one. Robinson was one of the only bright spots for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. With the addition of Travis Etienne, he has added competition. Will James Robinson rise to the challenge or fade into obscurity from a fantasy football perspective?

James Robinson Fantasy Football Outlook 2021

2020 Recap

If not for a little luck, Robinson may never have seen the field. The 2020 off-season began with Leonard Fournette the unquestioned starter in Jax. However, Fournette was cut before the season started. Additionally, Ryquell Armstead and Devine Ozigbo dealt with health issues. The unavailability of these players cleared a path for the undrafted rookie to get a shot to play. By the end of the season, Robinson was the number five overall rusher in the NFL with 1070 yards and seven touchdowns. Robinson was also the seventh best fantasy back. He accumulated 201.4 points in standard leagues in 14 games (14.4 points per game average). He was also a solid play in PPR leagues, as he had 49 receptions for 344 yards and three scores.

Even though Robinson started out buried on the depth chart, he became the unquestioned number one back on the team. However, the Jaguars added standout running back Travis Etienne out of Clemson with the 25th pick in this year’s draft. Robinson may find it hard to reach the same 240 carry mark that he did last year.

2021 Projection

Robinson didn’t only benefit from roster attrition in the running back room last year. He also benefited from paltry quarterback play. With inconsistency under center, Robinson was a steady and reliable option for the team. Things have changed now. With the addition of number one pick Trevor Lawrence, Etienne, and head coach Urban Meyer, there’s a new regime. Without playing a snap yet, Etienne’s average annual salary is higher than Robinson’s full rookie contract.

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Robinson definitely has a shot at being productive in 2021, but he’s unlikely to be a top 10 rusher in fantasy or otherwise. Even if Etienne only takes 25 percent of Robinson’s 2020 volume, he’d be left with 180 carries. At last year’s 4.5 yards per carry, Robinson would run for 810 yards this year. That estimate is conservative, and Etienne will likely take more than 25 percent of Robinson’s 2020 share of carries. Let’s not forget that Etienne has worked out at wide receiver and could see work in the passing game. Though there could be some two-running back sets, Etienne will eat into Robinson’s passing game volume as well.

Robinson could easily be a top 20 fantasy back this year, but he’ll have to make the most of his opportunities.

James Robinson Fantasy Football Average Draft Position

According to Fantasy Data , Robinson is currently the 23rd running back off the board. He’s being taken three spots ahead of his teammate Etienne, and Josh Jacobs, Myles Gaskin, and Mike Davis are going just before him. This is a good spot to take Robinson. If not for Etienne, he’d be going much higher.

Etienne may be theĀ  better pick if you are playing in a PPR format, but Robinson will be a safer pick in the short term with one season in the NFL under his belt. With a new offense in Jacksonville under Meyer and Lawrence, we can’t be sure how the run game will be utilized yet, but Robinson should be a solid RB2.

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