By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The Chicago Bears sign WR Allen Robinson to a 3-year deal
2018 Fantasy Outlook: I don’t think this is what the Jacksonville Jaguars had in mind when the offseason officially got underway. When the Jaguars decided not to use their franchise tag on Allen Robinson, many thought they were at least approaching an agreement on a multiyear deal at a per year value less than the tag to keep their number one receiver from leaving. Bad plan. Very, very bad plan.
Robinson leaves the Jaguars without a bonafide number one receiver, although they did resign Marqise Lee, who filled in admirably for Robinson last year as a result of Robinson’s torn ACL but isn’t a prototypical number one option. But that’s the past, and the future is in Chicago, where Robinson will provide the Bears with something they missed last year when Alshon Jeffrey went to the Eagles and Cameron Meredith went down with an injury: a legitimate WR that defenses will have to pay attention to. During Mitchell Trubisky’s rookie year, the Bears had arguably the worst collection of receivers in the league. Chicago was dead last in receiving yards — 3,085 — and as a result, last in passing yards. If Allen Robinson can recapture his 2015 season when he had 1,400 yards and 14 TDs, Trubisky and the Bears will have to be respected on offense.
Since Robinson missed all of 2017 with a torn ACL he suffered on the third play of the season, we’re going to look at the first three years of his career to get a better idea of what to expect when he laces up his shoes in the Windy City. During his breakout season of 2015, among WRs with at least 50 catches, Robinson finished 2nd in yards per catch with 17.5. That same year, he finished 6th in receiving yards and tied for 1st in TD catches. Much of this production can be attributed to the fact that the Jaguars were constantly trailing in games — they finished 5-11 that year — so they had nothing else to do but throw and pad the stats. So let’s look closer at Robinson’s rookie year, 2014, and his 3rd year, 2016.
Robinson’s 2014 was cut short to, you guessed it, a knee injury. He played in 10 games and finished with 81 targets, 48 catches, 548 yards, and 2 TDs. If you extrapolate that to a full season, you’re looking at 129 targets, 77 catches, 877 yards, and 3 TDs. For a rookie 2nd round pick, I would take those numbers all day long. Of course, we know what he did in 2015 so let’s fast forward to 2016. He had roughly the same number of targets as in 2015, but the catches fell to 73 and yards plummeted to 883. He also had 6 TDs. Here’s the big number — his yards per catch in 2014 and 2016 were 11.4 and 12.1, respectively. That tells me a couple of things. Young receivers typically have a hard time separating at the line of scrimmage in Year One. Robinson was no different. The numbers say he figured it out in Year Two. In Year Three? Regression. Teams knew where the Jaguars were throwing and they bottled him up. Frustration sets in, you know the rest.
I’m not saying Robinson is a bad WR. I actually think he’s a top 15 talent in the league. The Jaguars had no threat of a running game in 2016, finishing 22nd in the league in total rushing. Teams blanketed Robinson and he wasn’t experienced enough to work through it. After spending a year on the sideline with nothing to do but study tape, I think Robinson is going to help a young Bears team in a big way in 2018 and beyond. I’m not sure Trubisky will be this year’s Jared Goff, but with new head coach Matt Nagy as creative an offensive mind as there is, I think Robinson is in good hands. I conservatively put Robinson in the WR2/FLEX world, likely around WR25 to start the year. I think he comes in just shy of 70 catches, 1,000 yards and 5 TDs. This is a team that’s loaded at RB with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen and I think that will still be their bread and butter. With the Bears signing Taylor Gabriel to stretch the field, Robinson’s work will be 5-15 yards from the line of scrimmage. That doesn’t offer much to get excited about in terms of upside.
Of course, we know what his upside is. Will he ever reach those numbers again now that he’s in Chicago? We have three years to find out.