Dynasty Dilemma: James Robinson
By Joe Goodwin
When you are a rookie free agent signed out of Illinois St., most times you are hoping to make a practice roster and learn. And, maybe at some point, you get a chance on special teams to make a mark. Instead, James Robinson instantly became a contributor to a Jaguars offense. In his first season, Robinson led the team in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and was fourth in receptions. James Robinson burst onto the scene as a rookie and looked like the type of player a fantasy manager drafts late or signs as a free agent and wins a league for grabbing such a useful commodity so late in a draft..
Fast forward to 2021…
You are an unsigned free agent running back coming off your first season that saw you go over 1,000 yards and your team drafts a running back in the first round. That same running back that just happened to be in the same backfield as the quarterback your team just drafted first overall. That sent a strong signal to James Robinson that he was not the player the team sees as the long term solution at running back.
Then, Robinson watched that same running back suffer a Lisfranc injury in his second preseason game, and once again become the first (and only legitimate) option at running back for a young team with a new coach.
In Robinson’s first two seasons, he has averaged 918 yards rushing, 40 receptions, 283 receiving yards, and 9 touchdowns per season. To start his 2022 season, Robinson has 4 total touchdowns, 266 total yards, and 56 total touches in 3 games. Without question, James Robinson has been the most effective running back on the Jaguars roster for the past 2 years.
James Robinson has prototypical size for a running back at 5’9 and 220 lbs. Although some of his metrics at the combine didn’t jump off the paper (namely a faster 40 time), James showed an incredible vertical jump at 40 inches and impressed many with 24 reps on the bench.
JR had 20 touchdowns through 29 games: Only Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones Drew can say that as Jaguars. JR has 2,500 yards scrimmage yards through his first 30 games. Only Fred Taylor, MJD, and Leonard Fournette had accomplished that in Jacksonville uniforms.
James Robinson has started his Jaguars career among some of the best rb’s in franchise history. Teams don’t just walk away from players that have been that successful unless given a reason…and JR has given no such reason.
Coming into this season, it appeared the Jacksonville Jaguars were going to utilize their former first round picks and build their offense around the former Clemson Tigers Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne. Etienne’s ADP for redraft leagues was 36th overall. The fantasy football community was acknowledging ETN would return to his rightful spot as RB 1 of the Jaguars.
James Robison had an ADP of 106th overall. Fantasy managers were drafting running backs like: Kenneth Walker, Devin Singletary, Tony Pollard, and James Cook all ahead of Robinson. It appeared most saw the Jaguars utilizing the 2-time ACC player of the year over an undrafted player out of Illinois St. Not to mention that pesky 40 time that sees ETN run at 4.45 seconds; 2 tenths of a second faster than Robinson.
All signs point to Travis Etienne being the next great running back behind Jaguars greats named Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. In game 1 of this season, the usage rate for the running backs far outweighed ETN over Robinson, In Game 2, a correction was made that leaned heavily in Robinson’s favor. And the last game was more balanced. The future looks to be a timeshare if the current snap counts continue at their current rates.
James Robinson has been the unquestioned successful running back compared to ETN.
JR: 51 rushes, 230 yards, 3 touchdowns rushing, 6 receptions, 33 yards, 1 touchdown receiving
ETN: 26 rushes, 112 yards, 0 touchdowns rushing, 8 receptions, 81 yards, 0 touchdown receiving
One of the things I know about the NFL, teams love guys who score touchdowns. If you can’t find the endzone, your time in the NFL will not last long. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a team looking to establish an identity as an offense, and James Robinson continues to demonstrate he is the best option.
And, with Doug Pederson at the helm, the Jags have a head coach that holds no allegiances to the former first round pick in ETN. In fact, the Jaguars organization has a track record of moving on from first round picks (Ramsey and Jack come to mind) when they don’t fit their scheme or underperform.
Some fantasy managers may still cling to “upside” and “expectations” and will stubbornly hold onto players they have drafted high in rookie drafts like Etienne. I, however, try to act quickly when you watch the game and see one player on the field doing damage on the outside, while the other one being tackled behind the line of scrimmage multiple times. That is what I saw this past Sunday as Robinson ripped a 50 yard touchdown run in the win over the Chargers and ETN on the next drive had 2 rushes for negative yards.
In the end, both players have shown glimpses of potentially being RB 2’s for your dynasty football team. However, only one has proven that potential of being realized on a consistent basis.
James Robinson is still only 24 years old with plenty of years remaining in his career to continue producing as a solid top 24 running back. He is the player to grab for your dynasty team and let others wait for unrealized potential in ETN.
Full time teacher, full time fantasy sports enthusiast. I love to explore and find new, and exciting fantasy football options including: dynasty, IDP, and Devy. See me on Twitter @JGoody77
Always willing to give advice, reach out via Twitter