The Gambler: Wide Receiver Edition

The Gambler: Wide Receiver Edition


Kenny Rogers created his most popular song, with the well-known verse “Know when to hold’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run…” I cannot think of any other verse that perfectly fits this segment here. We are going to examine wide receivers that carried lofty expectations and have thus far under performed. 

Allen Robinson: 19 targets, 8 receptions, 109 yards, 0 touchdowns WR# 49 PPR

    Allen Robinson was a favorite of mine to target around the round 3 turn of this year’s draft, his ceiling fit perfectly with a robust running back approach. Many were assuming that Nick Foles would run away with the job during preseason. Unfortunately preseason was non-existent, so Foles ability to claim the job was extremely difficult given the circumstance. Through two weeks, Trubisky has shown what he has always been; just barely able to get the job done. This all plays a major impact in Robinson’s value this year. The attached ceiling to Robinson was created by his great year in 2019 and the incoming expectations of Foles to elevate the quarterback situation. Week-2, Robinson was targeted 9 times, he caught 4 of those targets. The infuriating part of this is that the targets that were deemed catchable were caught, meaning 5 of those nine targets were not deemed catchable thus wasted opportunity. This is where I think the crux of his value lies.

Many people are starting to sour on Robinson 1 as he has yet to live up to the lofty expectations placed on him.

While the Bears are 2-0 and Trubisky has been able to keep up this façade, it is only a matter of time until Nagy realizes their ability to win increases exponentially with Foles leading the way. The Bears play Atlanta, Indy and Tampa; I expect Foles to take over either during the Indy game or after words. Either way we know greener pastures are ahead for Robinson. He is getting the opportunity just has yet to deliver upon his expected point total. If Trubisky is able to hold the starting job, I think Robinson drops from a Wr1 to a Wr2 with a couple flex like weeks. If Trubisky can maintain the starting role after the Tampa Bay game, owners may want to start to heed Rogers advice and

run away. 2

1 Seasonal league especially.

2 There is a world in which Trubisky and Robinson can co-exist; it has happened before, we just need to see an unanticipated jump in efficiency from Trubisky to make that a reality.

D.J. Chark: 7 targets, 7 receptions, 109 yards, 1 touchdown, #34 PPR

    Chark was a darling of mine, a player I aggressively targeted this off-season. He had his breakout campaign last year being the 17th best wide receiver for his sophomore year. The sky was the limit as an expected increase in skill, positive game script and chemistry between Minshew and himself. However, Jacksonville’s defense is better than anticipated which leads to less games trailing, they are winning football games and doing it their own way. Chark is still a young player and has more room to grow, this year is just going to be one of those years for him. What we are seeing with Chark is him getting the alpha wide receiver treatment, being the best means being a focal point by the opposing defenses. This is not a doomsday scenario for Chark this season, a new coaching staff may not put an emphasis on getting him 30+% of the target share. However, targets are earned not given and all Chark has done this far is earn more targets. Chark may have an unsustainable efficiency but the fact that he is making an impact with every target is only going to make the coaching staff and Minshew want to find ways to scheme him open. Another helping impact for Chark is going to come from his fellow teammates; Shenault and Robinson.

As Shenault continues to bloom into a very capable and successful wide receiver, defenses will have no other options but too shift some of their focus to Shenault creating less attention to Chark.3

Same goes for James Robinsons, the undrafted rookie is making waves around the league after his impressive first two weeks. As he becomes more entrenched as the bell-cow, safeties won’t have the opportunity to shade over Chark but instead need to sneak closer to the line to help assist the run defense. These two components are going to create a scenario in which Chark can succeed and build off of last year’s prior success. I would be remiss if I pretended all things were just fine, there should be some growing concern about Chark’s inability to produce as the Jaguars Alpha4

It is just two games but a new offensive coordinator may spell trouble for Chark if you don’t see his targets jump in the coming weeks. Chark may be a slow burn type of player, taking a miniature step back to adapt and succeed being the alpha. We are just too early in the season to write this one off for him. However, if things continue the same way and you are in a championship focused team, moving him for a better producing player may be the right move for your team.

3 Less attention could mean more opportunity for Chark to capitalize on not being the focal point of defenses.

4 It turns out Chark has been battling a chest and back injury, which also explains his lack of production this far.

Christian Kirk: 9 targets, 3 receptions, 57 yards, 0 touchdowns, #101 WR PPR

    If you read my “Why Not Christian Kirk” article you know I am very disappointed about his lack of immediate production. It seems that I vastly underestimated the role that Hopkins would take in the offense, and more importantly the incredible amount of targets. There is quite literally a cliff between Hopkins targets (27) and the rest [Fitzgerald (11) and Kirks (9)]. There is still a shimmer of hope for Kirk this season though. The Cardinals are still running an incredible amount of snaps a game (75.5) compared to the league average of (65.79). Kirk saw a snap percentage of 83% Week-1 and only 62% in Week-2 which is attributed to the groin injury he sustained. Kirk also saw similar targets week 1 and 2 with only one less in Week-2, again because of the injury and the lead the Cardinals had. Having watched the game both weeks, it was clear that Kirk and Murray were not on the same page Week-1 but had more success in that department Week-2. It is very encouraging seeing a positive trend for Kirk from Week-1 to Week-2. It is clear that Kirk may not have the WR 1 ceiling I had dreamt about for him but he still has a strong shot at the WR2 role on your fantasy team. These next two weeks are going to be very important for Kirk, is he able to build upon Week-2’s success, can vault himself into the #2 hierarchy of targets, can him and Murray continue to grow their chemistry. These questions need to be answered until I can confidently come to a decision on Kirk; the outlook may be cloudy but I have hope blue skies are on the horizon.

Seasonal Spin: I am talking to the Robinson and Chark owners and feeling out where they are panic wise (maybe even adding a little fuel to that panic). For Kirk If he cannot go Week-3 due to a groin injury, it may be best to drop him for a flier only to add back to your bench if the flier doesn’t hit. I hate writing that but roster clogging must be avoidable at all costs. 

Dynasty Spin: I am buying into all three of these players. Robinson will be the most expensive to acquire thus the most risky. At the ripe age of 27 he is worth the acquisition no matter what shape your roster is in. Chark is someone who can be acquired for a reasonable price right now5

and someone who is expected to see an increase in production as the season goes on. Kirk right now may be doing so poorly the manager won’t be willing to trade him away. If you want to bet on him (I would) I’d suggest adding him to a larger trade package. None of these guys are ‘sells’ to me, if Kirk fails to produce this season he would unfortunately fall into the ‘fold’ category6.

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