Entering the 2019 season, is Allen Robinson a buy or a sell?
The Chicago Bears stunned most of the football world with their 12–4 record to win the NFC North in 2018. Vic Fangio’s defense was the best in the league and Matt Nagy’s offense did just enough to be a dominant team. Unfortunately, the Bears fell short to the Eagles and had a quick exit in the playoffs.
The offseason is now upon us and this is when many of us true dynasty fantasy football enthusiasts start to prove their worth by diving into who to target and who to sell.
As a Bears fan, I decided to look into Allen Robinson. Robinson has proven he can be a top-five fantasy wide receiver but has yet to live up to that hype since his career year in 2015. Can he find a way to repeat or get close to his 2015 stats?
Allen Robinson in 2018
Before we dive into what Robinson can do as a Chicago Bear, let us take a look at how he did in his first season wearing orange and blue. Robinson played in 13 games this year. However, I am going to dismiss the Patriots game. He did not start and was more of a decoy that game as he dealt with a nagging groin injury. An injury that would cost him the next two games as well.
Over his healthy 12-game span, Robinson caught 54 balls for 750 yards. He averaged 13.7 yards per catch and caught four touchdowns. Not great numbers for a WR1 in what is supposed to be a prolific offense.
If we project his stats out for a full 16-game season, Robinson would have finished somewhere around 67 catches for 1,000 yards and five touchdowns. With his actual stats, Robinson finished as the WR41 in fantasy. That is WR3 territory in most leagues. If we go off his projected stats he would have finished as WR23. That’s more along the lines of where I see Robinson.
Robinson only had one game with double-digit receptions — two if you count his postseason game. His accomplishments were somewhat limited by Mitch Trubisky who was learning his second offense (first if you are like me and just chalk up his rookie season as garbage with John Fox) in as many years.
In Nagy’s offense, Robinson averaged just over four catches per game, but seven targets. He was on pace for 115 targets in 2018, but due to his skill set, he will need to see closer to 150 targets to hit elite type yardage and catch numbers.
Bears Offense in 2018
Looking at what Chicago did in 2018, they threw the ball 512 times. That is only the 24th most attempts in the NFL that year. The Bears ran the ball 468 times this season, but that includes Trubisky scrambling. This puts them tied for the 6th most attempts per game in 2018. Not sure how much more balanced you can be.
What limited them in passing, in my opinion, was the offense learning a new system and the game script with their elite defense led to lower scoring games. This means they did not have to air it out as much.
Look for those numbers to increase in year two of Nagy’s system, but I cannot seem to wrap my head around Robinson seeing 35 more targets. I believe Anthony Miller is going to make a big leap if his shoulder can stay intact. He saw just over 50 targets in 2018 and I see that jumping up to the 75 range in 2019. This alone will keep Robinson from hitting that golden 150 target number.
Allen Robinson’s Outlook
What does that leave us to do with Allen Robinson? A guy who was drafted as a top-five fantasy WR in 2016 after his breakout year in 2015. Was his high fantasy draft status warranted, or was it reactionary to an outlier type season?
If we break down his stats in 2015, you can easily see this was an outlier. The type of season I just cannot see him repeating on a consistent basis. Robinson has an average catch rate of 54.78% over his career. That catch rate is nothing to be proud of in my opinion.
If we look at his catch rate just for 2018, he finished just under 59% and was the 61st best wide receiver in that category. Not screaming elite to me. If we look at his career average catch rate that would have put him in the 73–77 range among wide receivers. Yuck!
Now, catch rate does not mean everything. You can make up for it if you have high average yards per catch numbers. Unfortunately for Robinson, he does not. Outside of his career year in 2015 where he averaged 17.5 ypc, Robinson finds himself with a 12.4 ypc career average.
Buy, Sell or Hold
These numbers will just not cut it if you are looking for a guy to become “the” guy of an offense and flourish in fantasy. As I went to start writing this, I was all in on buying Allen Robinson this offseason. I see great things for my beloved Chicago Bears and figured Robinson would thrive in year two of Nagy’s system.
However, as I dove deeper into these numbers I find myself not liking Robinson’s outlook as much. The problem is, he cannot be a sell candidate for me unless he is an additional piece since his value is not as high as it could be.
Currently, in ADP rankings, Robinson is falling to the WR22-WR26 range. If you remember where his projected stats would have put him, he’s being drafted right where he should be. That does not scream sell.
I have now gone from wanting to buy, to consider selling, but eventually, my conclusion is to hold. These players make for the most interesting pieces sometimes. Note, however, that like in all business deals, buy or sell for the right price. If you are getting a return greater than the WR2 status he holds, sell. If you can buy him for a WR3–4 value, then buy.
Hopefully, as a Bears fan, this team grows offensively in 2019 and the correlation means Robinson looks the part of an elite wide receiver. Then, you will remember this article and say hey, I better sell him while the fire is hot!