Lost in all the excitement of the acquisition of second round running back T.J. Yeldon is the maturation and development of Denard Robinson. Entering his third season in the NFL as a quarterback-converted-to-running back, Shoelace has improved in each year.
Heading into 2015, Robinson is sitting behind Yeldon on the depth chart, but that doesn’t mean Robinson won’t have a prominent role in the offense.
In limited time last week, Robinson was extremely effective running behind an improved offensive line during the Jaguars first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s easy to forget just how productive Robinson was when he first got into the starting lineup in 2014.
With that in mind, Robinson could have some sneaky fantasy value depending on his circumstances – something Matt Harmon over at NFL.com has taken note of:
"Denard Robinson, RB, Jacksonville JaguarsNot many, outside of Eric Stoner, expected Denard Robinson’s transition from college quarterback to NFL running back would work out. Nevertheless, the former Michigan passer took 135 carries for 582 yards and scored four times last season. It was not in their original plan, but Jacksonville gave Robinson 14 or more carries in five games. He filled in admirably when a rash of injuries hit their roster.While the team spent draft resources to bring T.J. Yeldon in as a bell-cow running back, there’s a chance Denard Robinson still plays a role. Yeldon is a technically sound and intelligent runner, but he only averaged 15 catches-per-season in college. On the other hand, Robinson caught 23 passes in 396 snaps last season. Jacksonville may improve, but will still trail opponents in most contests and will need to throw to catch up. In that scenario, perhaps Robinson carves out a Danny Woodhead-type role.The team values this player, and invested in his transition and position change. He may yet have a role greater than his ADP would indicate. Also, we know Robinson can produce top-24 fantasy weeks at the running back position, if Yeldon ever goes down."
It’s not fair to take Robinson with the expectation Yeldon will get injured at some point, but Robinson has some value even if he has to split carries. He’s an effective 2-down runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield and showed a nose for the endzone when he was given a chance last year. If you need a 3rd or 4th running back near the end of your draft, there are worse options than Denard.
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