New York Jets running back Breece Hall tore his ACL in Week 7’s matchup against the Denver Broncos, prematurely ending his season and leaving a giant hole in New York’s backfield. Michael Carter was set to absorb most of the fantasy football value, but then the Jets traded for Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson. Now with two big names on the depth chart, which player will end up handling a larger workload?
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Fantasy Football: James Robinson, Michael Carter Outlook
Who’s The Starter?
Prior to his injury, Breece Hall had one of the most dependable workloads in all of football. After starting the season in a committee, Hall came to life in later weeks, averaging over 20 touches per week and 67% of the snaps in the three games prior to tearing his ACL. Carter still saw the field, but he was clearly the backup.
Needless to say, neither Carter nor Robinson will inherit 100% of Hall’s workload. Running back production is largely a product of scheme and blocking, but a player needs to have a lot of talent for a coach to trust anyone with that type of volume.
Carter and Robinson are both good players, but there is no reason to believe New York’s coaching staff would trust either with that many touches. Robinson’s presence alone shows that the team doesn’t want to put the entire burden of work on Carter’s shoulders, and Robinson only has one season with elite usage. That came in his rookie year when Jacksonville surprisingly cut starting running back Leonard Fournette days before the start of the season. Since then, the Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne in the first round to take his job, and Robinson tore his Achilles.
This is all one long way of saying that both players are going to have their opportunities, which is a bad thing for fantasy football. Volume is king, and neither player will receive enough touches to get by on opportunity alone. With that in mind, we’ll have to take a look at each player’s role in the offense to see who will have the better shot at weekly fantasy relevance.
It is no secret that the most valuable touches in fantasy football are short yardage and targets. Touchdowns are worth six points and a single reception is worth a point in PPR leagues, so you can find flex-caliber players with smaller workloads if they have the right role.
Just a couple of dudes scoring 1.2 PPR points pic.twitter.com/nEfgoZn802
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) October 24, 2022
Let’s start by projecting the short-yardage role. Generally speaking, this role goes to the bigger guy, and that gives a clear edge to Robinson. At 5′-8″ and 201 pounds, Carter is smaller than the average short-yardage back and probably isn’t built to receive those types of touches. Even before Hall came to town, Carter never saw too many touches near the goal line. During his rookie season, the North Carolina product only scored four touchdowns despite receiving a decent workload.
Robinson, meanwhile, has a sturdy 5′-9″, 219-pound frame that puts him in the 91st percentile for BMI. He has experience in short-yardage situations and has largely risen to the occasion. The New York Jets don’t score that many touchdowns, but when they’re in the red zone, Robinson will likely see most of the work.
While Carter might cede touches in the red zone, he is more likely to be on the field when the Jets are airing it out. Despite Hall’s presence, Carter still found a way to earn 24 targets through the first seven games of the season. He has above-average hands and is a natural fit for this role. Robinson, meanwhile, only has nine receptions this year and has steadily seen his passing work decrease since his impressive rookie season.
Carter will see most of the work in both the passing and running game during the next few weeks as Robinson learns the playbook. However, once Robinson is fully acclimated in this offense, he’ll likely see the short-yardage work while Carter handles passing duties, and both players will split time on the field on early downs.
Due to New York’s tendency of avoiding the endzone, you’ll probably want to go after Michael Carter. That being said, both players will have weekly relevance as low-ceiling flex plays.