The staff members at Footballguys are full of opinions. In a Faceoff, we allow two members to voice their opinions on a specific player. One picked the high side, and the other took the low side.
High Side by Andy Hicks
Very rarely does a fantasy receiver have everything in place for him to succeed and be value. That is the case with Allen Robinson in 2016. He is a young, ascendant talent on a young, ascending team and finished the 2015 season as the fourth-ranked fantasy receiver. Yet here he is with question marks surrounding the Jaguars as a whole and the alleged garbage time stats of the previous year. Much riskier prospects in Dez Bryant and Jordy Nelson will in all likelihood be taken before him, and a lot of drafters are being unnecessarily cautious when it comes to the third-year man out of Penn State.
Look closely at his 2015 season, and a case can be made that he is one of the most consistent elite receivers in the league. From Week 5 until the end of the season he either had a 100 yards and or a touchdown in 12 consecutive games. That’s all well and good, but many will say that the Jaguars will have a much better defense and picked up Chris Ivory in free agency to change the structure of the offense. Very rarely do that many new faces on a defense gel quickly and with many young players it is not going to be an instant success. The 2017 season should start to see a dominant defense emerge, but foresight in projecting defensive powerhouses is often overstated. They need to play together as a unit first.
Much will also be made of the arrival of Chris Ivory on a 5-year, $32-million contract. It is essentially a 2-year deal, and if he underperforms in 2016 they can cut their losses if they have to. Ivory is no sure thing to be what the Jaguars hope. He has struggled with conditioning and has only one 1,000-yard season - last year with the Jets. When he is on the field he will be a punishing runner, but he will not be that 300-touch back that would truly take value away from Robinson.
Allen Robinson improved significantly in his 2nd season. He ran solid routes, was too strong for defenders, and showed elite hands. It is also feasible that he can improve further, having just turned 23 by the time the season starts. He has receiving threats around him to ensure he will not be double covered on a consistent basis and has an improving, young quarterback who knows what he has in his star receiver. Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas are very good secondary targets for Blake Bortles, but Robinson is the man that Bortles will look to often to make that big play or get him out of jam. It is possible to see Robinson regress slightly, but it is also possible that with an average of 10 targets per game he emerges as one of next generation of superstars at the wide receiver position. This essentially could be the last year you get any kind of value for him.
Low Side by Stephen Holloway
With Robinson, it’s all about opportunity and the law of averages. The Jaguars defense has ranked 26th and 31st in points allowed per game the past two seasons, but since the end of last season, they added Malik Jackson at defensive end, Tashaun Gibson at safety, and Prince Amukamara at corner back and all three are slated to start. Dante Fowler Jr, Jr., the 3rd overall pick last year who missed the entire season returns and in this year’s draft they added arguably two of the top defensive players available in corner back Jalen Ramsey at 5th overall and Myles Jack, linebacker at 36th overall. Their defense will be much better. Robinson should have fewer targets based on less need for the offense to overcome deficits.
Besides me constantly behind on the scoreboard, the Jaguars almost had to throw the ball last year because of the lost time due to running back injuries. Yeldon led the team with 182 carries for 740 yards. All their running backs combined fo only 295 rushes. The addition of Chris Ivory along with Yeldon should give them more consistency in the running game.
Even when they throw the ball and it should be less often, the Jaguars have abundant alented receiving options available. In addition to Robinson, they have Allen Hurns, who also had over 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns last year, despite playing through injuries and a solid tight end in Julius Thomas, who caught 46 passes last year in only 12 games. Thomas is an excellent red zone receiver who has scored 29 touchdowns over the previous three years. T. J. Yeldon caught 36 passes in his rookie season, also in only 12 games. Bortles has multiple players to target and it will not be forced to lock onto Robinson.
Among wide receivers who caught more than 50 passes, Robinson averaged a league high 17.5 yards per catch, with only Sammy Watkins at 17.45, also topping 16.5 yards per catch. Among wide receivers with nine or more receiving touchdowns, only Ted Ginn Jr who scored a touchdown on 22.7% of his catches and Doug Baldwin with a touchdown on 17.9% ranked above Robinson. Both of those averages are likely to fall considerably this year.