Every year fantasy pundits throw blows over who they like/dislike in drafts. Yahoo’s cast of characters is no different. Throughout the picking season, we’ll provide two sides to the story to help you decide between Player A or Player B. Read. React. And choose a winner.
Today’s showdown: Crafty veteran wide receivers, Julian Edelman (38.8 ADP, WR16) vs. Allen Robinson (58.3, WR26).
Brad leads off
At age 33 and with a long track record of physical setbacks, some are writing off Edelman’s 2019 potential. It’s an unwise decision. With Rob Gronkowski somewhere grinding on a pole and Josh Gordon still on suspension, let’s peek at who sits behind the veteran on New England’s receiving depth chart:
-N’Keal Harry (Upside, but unpolished rookie)
-Phillip Dorsett (Loosely used outside-the-numbers speedster)
-Dontrelle Inman (Vagabond who’s shined only sporadically with LAC and IND)
-Demaryius Thomas (PUP, cooked)
-Maurice Harris (Training camp star who flashed at times with WAS in ’18)
-Matt LaCosse (Journeyman TE who has a leg up on the starting gig)
Unless Irving Fryar, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker submit reinstatement papers, Edelman is in line for a massive target share, one which could dwarf the 25.7 percent (9.0 tgts/g) he received a season ago. As The Quant Edge’s Matthew Hill detailed, with Gronk on the field in 2018 the wideout enticed 18.3% of New England’s targets and 20.5% of the red zone looks. Without the big man, those numbers rocketed to 25.5 and 35.3 (!). Overall, Edelman finished last year WR12 in fantasy points per game, churning out a 99-1133-8 pace. Talk about a PPR dream.
Since he’s dealing with a busted thumb which should keep him sidelined for another two weeks, the skittish will abstain from entertaining the decorated slot man at his 38.8 (WR16) ADP. The injury downside, they would say, is unpalatable. However, as evidenced by last season’s production, even if Edelman misses a few games, he would still profit handsomely in any PPR form.
Robinson’s discounted rate (58.4 ADP) is attractive, but the competition for targets is stiffer in the Windy City. He could see a full 30-40 fewer looks.
Follow the volume. Prop up the Patriot.
Scott cleans up
The Ibañez All-Star frame — boring, value veterans — is more of a baseball play for me. In fantasy football, I want to skew younger. Robinson steps into an age-26 season, while Edelman readies for the age-33 campaign. We just gained seven years right there.
Edelman’s share of the offense is secure, no doubt. And the target share, as Brad says, should go up. But keep in mind what you’re also betting on with Edelman — someone who has played two full seasons out of 10 years, and someone who isn’t a major touchdown source. In the 67 games since becoming a regular, Edelman has a modest 26 end-zone visits, a high of seven. Yes, he’s an NFL god in the playoffs. But Edelman is just another good player in the regular season. And he’s already dinged up anyway, with that busted thumb.
Part of it is the durability talking, but Edelman has cracked WR22 just once in his career (a WR19 showing in 2013). Perhaps all those Lombardi Trophy runs (and remember, he was MVP of the last football game we watched) have made him an eyelash overrated.
Robinson hasn’t been the paragon of durability, either, though he has just as many 16-game seasons as Edelman does. But you’re welcoming more upside here. Robinson was the WR4 in his 2015 breakout year — despite the Blake Bortles experience — and he’s now two years removed from the 2017 ACL blowout. Robinson was starting to show his old form over the final eight games of 2018 (including the playoff loss), racking up 40 catches for 612 yards and three scores. He was also Chicago’s best player in the January loss to Philadelphia (10-143-1). You’d like more spikes, but those counting stats will do just fine.
Robinson was my biggest fade of last year, as I expected him to need an acclamation year in Chicago. I also wanted more distance from that ACL injury. Year 2 is the perfect time to jump back in, and that’s what I’m going to do.