2015 Breakout Candidate: WR Allen Robinson
Over the next handful of weeks, we'll be featuring a series on fantasy football breakout candidates for 2015. These are guys who probably didn't carry your teams to playoff glory in 2014 but showed why they could take a step forward and be the difference between fantasy fame and fantasy shame next season.
There is a simple reason why Robinson is the first player we'll take a look at in this series. He is a receiver who was making a sizeable impact in 2014 before being lost to a stress fracture in his right foot in Week 10. Through his first 10 games, Robinson caught 48 balls for 548 yards and two touchdowns. While those numbers aren't eye-popping and had him on pace to catch only 77 balls for 877 yards, there are reasons to be extremely optimistic. In PPR leagues, Robinson posted double-digit points in seven out of his 10 games, including five of his last six. That type of consistency is something fantasy owners can quickly grow to love. With the assumption that Robinson will improve in 2015, if he can maintain his consistency while scoring a few more touchdowns, he will become a desirable commodity. So, what are the reasons to believe he could actually do just that?
Robinson's quarterback, Blake Bortles, was thrown to the wolves as a rookie in 2014 and had a predominantly disappointing season. Although he didn't start until Week 4, Bortles tied for the second-most interceptions (17), threw just 11 touchdowns and took 55 sacks. Despite that, the organization saw enough positives from the young quarterback to maintain its confidence in him going forward. That is great for Robinson's fantasy value since the two rookies were developing a chemistry that was evident to anyone watching Jacksonville play. Prior to his injury, Robinson was a favorite target of Bortles' on third down. As a matter of fact, he was a favorite target much of the time, which is the next reason Robinson has some added appeal for next season.
While teammates Allen Hurns and Cecil Shorts finished the year with more receptions and yards than Robinson, it was simply because they played in more games. When looking at targets over his final six games, from Weeks 5-10, we can see that Robinson was, hands down, Bortles' go-to receiver. Over that six-week span, there were only five receivers in the NFL who had more targets than Robinson's 55: Demaryius Thomas (74), Antonio Brown (73), Golden Tate (63), Dez Bryant (61) and Mohamed Sanu (56). And it should be noted that Tate and Sanu's usage increased during a stretch that saw their respective No. 1 WR teammates, Calvin Johnson and A.J. Green, miss three games each.
The last reason Robinson could be primed to break out in 2015 is another teammate. Specifically, the absence of said teammate. The aforementioned Shorts, who was listed as Jacksonville's No. 1 receiver this past season, is set to be a free agent this offseason, and there is zero reason to think the Jags will bring him back for a fifth season. He'll cost more money than the three players they signed to rookie contracts in 2014 -- Robinson, Hurns and Marqise Lee -- and isn't as good as anyone in that trio. With Shorts likely leaving town and Robinson being the likeliest to step into Jacksonville's undisputed No. 1 receiver role, he could get 40 to 50 percent of the 110 targets that went to Shorts in 2014. With extra targets should come extra statistical production and those all-important extra fantasy points.
With the 27-year-old Shorts expected to head elsewhere and an already strong chemistry with Bortles to build upon, Robinson should be a 90-catch, 1,100-yard receiver. At 6-foot-3, Robinson has the size that makes his quarterback's job easier. He caught only two touchdowns, but if Bortles improves in his second season, that size should be just what the doctor ordered for Robinson to get more red-zone targets and a good shot at between 8-10 scores. A receiving line of 90-1,100-10 would make Robinson a strong WR2, a borderline WR1. The second-round pick out of Penn State, who led the Big 10 in receiving in 2012 and 2013, has the skill set, athletic gifts and work ethic to develop into that kind of asset. As part of a rookie receiving class that boasts names such as Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Kelvin Benjamin, Robinson could be a hidden fantasy gem in 2015.
Related StoriesDaily Dr. Roto: FSTA Baseball (Part 3)
Dr. Roto Video: Development vs. Regression
Fantasy Golf Rankings: Humana Challenge