The Jacksonville Jaguars made the decision to cut running back Leonard Fournette not too far before Week 1, while also professing faith in undrafted rookie James Robinson as the situation opened the door for him.
Thus far Robinson has delivered, averaging 4.8 yards per carry with over 100 total yards in three straight games heading into Week 5 against the Houston Texans. In fantasy football he has also delivered, as RB6 in standard scoring, half-point PPR and full PPR through Week 4.
At 1-3 thus far, the Jaguars have not held a lot of leads this season. They have trailed by at least 10 points in the second half of each of their last three games. So offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s comments this week hold some water regarding keeping Robinson involved late in games.
“He’s done nothing but impress us in every way, shape, or form, so I’d love to get him some more touches and those will come in the third and fourth quarter.”
Robinson had 60 carries through four games, 36 in the first half and 24 in the second half. As expected, his passing game usage is the opposite-11 catches in the second half of games and three catches on three targets in the first half. Over the last three games, all losses for Jacksonville, Robinson has 13 receptions on 14 targets. In those games, he had 19, 17 and 21 touches.
How High Is James Robinson’s Fantasy Ceiling?
Robinson is averaging 15 carries per game so far, heading into a matchup against Houston’s league-worst run defense (181.8 yards per game) on Sunday. The Texans are also allowing the fourth-most fantasy points (Yahoo! 0.5-point PPR scoring) to running backs.
In Week 6, the Jaguars will take on the Detroit Lions. Detroit has the league’s 30th-ranked run defense entering Week 5. They’ve also allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs (Yahoo!, 0.5-point PPR).
After that, here’s a look at Robinson’s upcoming schedule.
Week 8: at Los Angeles Chargers-6th-fewest fantasy points allowed to RB; 14th in the league against the run entering Week 5
Week 9: vs. Houston, Round 2
Week 10: at Green Bay Packers-3rd-most fantasy points allowed to RB; 9th in the league against the run entering Week 5
It’s notable the Chargers and Packers both entered Week 5 in the bottom-10 of the league in rushing attempts-against. They are both also in the bottom half of the league in yards per carry allowed.
Game script concerns aside, it’s worth noting that Fournette had 100 targets in 2019 with Gardner Minshew mostly playing quarterback for the Jaguars. Robinson may continue to lose a chunk of passing down work, but his work as a receiver is trending up. Gruden’s words in that regard may be instructive (speaking of Robinson, of course).
“I think we can be more creative with him, get him some more balls out in space.”
Say what you want about Gruden as a head coach, but he is a good designer of offense. Washington yielded fantasy relevance throughout his tenure there. A plan to get Robinson more involved should perk up our ears.
From Week 2-Week 4, with the aforementioned uptick as a receiver, Robinson was RB4 in full and half-point PPR. Tougher matchups will come closer and into the fantasy playoffs (Pittsburgh Steelers-Week 11, Cleveland Browns-Week 12, Baltimore Ravens-Week 15). A couple easier matchups (Minnesota Vikings-Week 13, Tennessee Titans-Week 14) are in there too.
Robinson looks sure to maintain his status as a top-10 fantasy running back this year, even with the prospect of a tough game or two late in the (fantasy) regular season. But the hint of a top-5 ceiling is there, as the Jaguars look to be involved in a lot of high-scoring games.