Leonard Fournette, just 25-years-old, is fresh off his best NFL campaign to date, finally showing glimpses of what made him such a highly-touted prospect out of LSU. So it’s only right that the Jacksonville Jaguars would release the running back with less than two weeks to go until the 2020 season, stripping them of their top playmaker.
However, it appears that the Jags may have had a more thoroughly thought out plan in place than previously perceived. That plan revolves mainly around undrafted free-agent James Robinson, who suddenly finds himself as the new feature back in Duval. Could he work his way into your fantasy football lineups as well?
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James Robinson Fantasy Outlook vs. Colts
With 797 career rushing attempts at Illinois State, Robinson is no stranger to carrying a heavy workload. As a senior, Robinson torched the Missouri Valley Football Conference to the tune of 1,899 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on his way to being named a Walter Payton Award finalist (most outstanding offensive player in FCS).
The only question is, can his success translate to the big stage? Jaguars’ offensive coordinator Jay Gruden certainly appears to think so.
“He can handle the workload,” Gruden said, via SI.com. “He’s tough. He’s strong. He’s got great vision. He can explode through holes. We’ve been impressed with him.”
Whether he’s ready to man that workload or not, Jacksonville will likely feature Robinson as a runner vs. Indianapolis, as they really have no other choice. Ryquell Armstead (COVID-19) is expected to be out “a while,” while Devine Ozigbo (hamstring) was recently placed on IR.
That leaves the newly-signed Dare Ogunbowale and pass-catching back Chris Thompson as the lone competition to Robinson. Ogunbowale has just 11 career rushing attempts to his name while Thompson has averaged less than four carries per game over his 66-game career.
With the touches projected to lean heavily into Robinson’s favor, he would seem like a viable play in Week 1. However, a matchup vs. the Colts certainly dampens things quite a bit.
Indianapolis surrendered the 10th-fewest fantasy points to running backs a season ago. They were especially stout against the run, allowing just 97.3 rushing yards per game, the fifth-fewest in football. All the Colts have done since then is add Pro Bowler DeForest Buckner to their front-seven.
Should You Start or Sit James Robinson in Week 1?
It’s moments like these where the loss of preseason is truly felt on the behalf of fantasy owners. Robinson is by far the biggest flyer of the week and is the definition of a true unknown.
Could he fall into the endzone? Sure. But the matchup would point to that being unlikely. Only the Patriots (2) allowed fewer rushing touchdowns to the running back position in 2019 than the Colts (4).
In fact, Indianapolis’ only true struggle in terms of defending the position last season came in the passing game, where they allowed a league-high 6.8 receptions per game to RBs. That stat would appear to bode well for Chris Thompson’s fantasy value rather than Robinson’s.
Robinson’s projected workload on the ground makes him a boom-or-bust flex play, but he is likely best to be avoided until we get a true look at how things will play out in the Jacksonville backfield.
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