Here is the next article in our series we are referring to as Deep Impact, where we at Razzball examine players who are tucked away deep in the player projections or waiver wire and are bound to surpass their underwhelming expectations. The benefit of these players, aside from showing off your fantasy football prowess throughout the season, is that they are often available on your fantasy league’s waiver wire and can provide relief to owners looking for quality talent in deeper formats. The player of focus in this article will be Jacksonville Jaguars second-year running back Denard Robinson.
In 2013, coming off of two stellar seasons under center at Ann Arbor, Robinson entered the NFL Draft proclaiming his willingness to play any position required of him. Despite being a former standout and Heisman Trophy candidate for the University of Michigan, Robinson has now taken on the challenge of committing himself to becoming a full-time running back in the NFL. Of course, converting from quarterback to running back is no easy task as a pro, even for an incredible athlete like Robinson.
Yet somehow, the former Wolverine has transitioned surprisingly well, showing a knack for explosiveness and versatility as a playmaker appearing primarily in preseason action. While Robinson had developed an almost cult-like following throughout his career at Michigan, the majority of his explosive plays came from his feet, making the move to running back seem somewhat natural. However, during his rookie season with the Jaguars, Robinson was extremely limited, posting a mere 66 yards on 20 attempts.
Fortunately for Robinson, year two could end up differently for the man formerly known as “Shoelace” as Jacksonville’s backfield has taken on an entirely new identity in 2014. The most notable difference would be the departure of long-time Jaguars starter Maurice Jones-Drew, who moved on to the Oakland Raiders this past offseason. To replace his production, Jacksonville brought in former second-round draft pick Toby Gerhart from the University of Stanford.
While Gerhart figures to get the bulk of the carries out of the backfield, Robinson could provide a valuable change-of-pace on third down and passing downs. He still has a great deal of work to do in pass-protection if he hopes to earn more opportunities, but it’s quite possible that could happen this season. After all, the 6’0” 200 pound playmaker still flashes legitimate breakaway speed in space and has become a player that defenses must account for at all times on the field.
Fantasy owners should not be fooled by Robinson’s slow start to the season, either. While Shoelace only managed 4 unremarkable touches for a whopping total of 11 yards week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville’s intriguing change of pace back still has a lot of upside and time to earn additional snaps. Plus, starting running back Toby Gerhart is already somewhat banged up, momentarily leaving Sunday’s game with a mild ankle injury. Though he returned to the game, it was worth noting that in Gerhart’s brief absence, Robinson took over as the Jaguars primary back.
As far as value moving forward, Robinson is currently a player only worth monitoring at the moment. However, he does make for a far more intriguing handcuff for Gerhart than Jordan Todman does, and he is only owned in 1% of Yahoo leagues at the moment. That leaves Robinson in fantasy purgatory, having incredible upside but far too small of a sample size for anyone to bank on for week 2. Nonetheless, Dynasty and Keeper league owners should be keeping tedious notes regarding the Jags up-and-coming offense.