Is Khiry Robinson for real?
In the run up to the New Orleans Saints divisional play off game against the Seattle Seahawks, NFL hall of fame head coach Bill Parcells put in a call to his former understudy Sean Payton. Parcells wanted to ask one question….Why weren’t the Saints utilising rookie running back Khiry Robinson more often? Robinson, an undrafted free agent out of West Texas A&M had been impressive in spot duty during the regular season, and drew some admirers with his 8 carries for 45 yards in the Saints wild card win over the Eagles. His fluid combination of speed, power and ball security helping the men from New Orleans grind out the win in freezing temperatures. The conversation between Parcells and Payton is said to have gone like this…
“Sean what are you doing? You’ve got Curtis Martin right in front of your eyes, and you’re not doing anything with him. Give him the ball.’”
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That’s Curtis Martin. Hall of fame running back and long time Parcells bell cow. A lofty comparison indeed from such a respected figure, and while Payton played down the conversation, it’s pretty certain that the Saints like what they have in Robinson and intend to make him a big part of their future. So what does that mean for our Fantasy teams? Lets take a look…..
CAN HE PLAY?
The short answer here is yes. Take one look at his tape in the pro game and you cant help but be impressed. Robinson is 6ft tall and around 220lbs, yet seems to run with a low centre of gravity, unlike his predecessor in the Saints back field Chris Ivory he doesn’t run recklessly or upright. His power is very impressive, he is hard to bring down and looks after the Football, something that his head coach has mentioned when praising his young charge. His speed is not Curtis Martin like, but he certainly doesn’t look a slouch on the field, hitting the hole with purpose and accelerating away from defenders. He has great short area speed and while he isn’t going to break ankles in a way that LeSean McCoy does, i’ve seen the potential in him to hit the home run and get to the second level. Perhaps the most impressive facet of his game is his vision, when you see some of his decision making, you are scratching your head as to why he went undrafted (and also unsigned going into mini camps), he is quick to see the gap and explodes through it, and has terrific feet, quick to put his foot in the ground and head straight down hill. It really is an impressive all round package and it’s not hard to see why he forced himself on to the 52 man roster coming out of camp and immediately started to climb the depth chart.
WILL HE PLAY?
Anyone who has played Fantasy Football over the past 4 or 5 seasons will tell you that owning any Saints running back is historically a head scratcher. Is it Reggie Bush this week? Or Pierre Thomas? Chris Ivory is so impressive when he sees the field, why is he a healthy scratch? How many carries will Darren Sproles get this week? Why do they persist with Mark Ingram? All questions you may have asked yourselves when faced with line up decisions. As it stands, Khiry Robinson looks to have a prime place on that Saints depth chart, but does that actually mean anything? Mark Ingram is in a contract year, and the organisation seems totally unwilling to accept that he’s a bust, Mr Dependable Pierre Thomas has re-upped and further muddies the picture with his all purpose skill set, Darren Sproles has been traded to Philly, but Travaris Cadet (another back I really like) fits the role of a 3rd down back and could play himself into the mix with a good camp and pre season. In a nutshell it’s predictably a mess for Fantasy, but it’s not all negative! Sean Payton has intimated that he wants to move to more of a ball control approach, something they showed signs of during last seasons playoff’s. Their aim is to keep the opposing offense off the field, and they certainly have the ability to do it with Drew Brees calling the game from the line of scrimmage. In my opinion the Saints do not have the horses to be the high flying Saints of old. Marques Colston is ageing and behind him Kenny Stills is promising, but Nick Toon is yet to show anything going into his 3rd season. Joseph Morgan will return from injury, but he is more of a straight line deep threat in the Stills mould. I expect the Saints to draft a receiver in what is a very deep class, but as I said, it will be a long time before they return to being the aerial bombardment of old. There is no doubt that Robinson has an opportunity to carve out a big role here, I need to see more of him as a receiver out of the back field, but a look back at his college numbers show that he is certainly capable and he should get an opportunity to catch the ball in an increased work load this coming season. As a Fantasy owner, you are not looking to the Saints for a 3 down running back, but I believe in Khiry’s ability to make something happen with 10/12 touches and as he gains more trust his role will increase. There is little doubt he is a big part of the Saints future and has the opportunity to really help your Fantasy team this coming season.
SO WHAT IS HIS DYNASTY VALUE?
This is a tough one to get a handle on. Talent wise, I would rather own Robinson than any back in this upcoming draft class. I believe in his ability, and I think his Dynasty arrow is pointing firmly upwards. That being said, Fantasy is all about opportunity and being the prettiest girl at the dance can often count for very little….look at Christine Michael in Seattle for instance…In my opinion the best back In last years draft, yet stuck behind Marshawn Lynch and a Fantasy non factor. Taking this into account, I certainly would not be trading first round picks in your upcoming rookie draft for him, there are too many game changers that will have big roles on their new teams, to give up for a talented back that potentially is mired in a committee. Having said that, I would absolutely use veteran players to try and trade for him, maybe the Robinson owner is in win now mode, and looking for a player to take them over the top, one season of a veteran back with a late round rookie pick thrown in might tempt them to let go of Khiry. Maybe you have a prospect back on your roster that you are down on and looking to trade, a Knile Davis or Stepfan Taylor for instance. Look at the add drops of the other teams and try and gauge what type of player the other owners like and need. Everyone has a price. The other option is to sell high on an established player that you don’t believe will repeat his success next season, again, take each owner as an individual and try and find out what they need, and the type of player they fill their roster with. Your chance to grab Robinson off waivers has most certainly gone, but I like him enough to recommend pursuing him in a trade. Running back is king in Dynasty perhaps more than any other form of Fantasy Football and while you don’t want to give up the farm for him, making a play for Khiry Robinson is a smart move in my book.
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Robinson currently has around a 12th round ADP per www.fantasypros.com. I realise it’s super early and pre the inevitable hype but I feel that would be an absolute steal in Fantasy drafts come the summer. His upside, as we’ve covered is capped by virtue of playing for the Saints, but i’d back his ability over Ingram and he is more dynamic than Thomas, in round 12 he could potentially be your 4th running back and at that point every pick is a flier. He has the ability to make the most of his touches and do a lot with a little, instantly giving him flex appeal and I would go as far as to say he could be the type of late flier that wins owners a Championship should he cement a bigger work load. Other backs with a similar ADP don’t come close to what Robinson could give your team! Donald Brown? Ahmad Bradshaw? Nah…i didn’t think so. Personally I would advocate taking Khiry any time after you have taken all your starters, but if you can get him in round 12 come August, it’s a no brainer in my opinion.
A rare find for the Saints, an undrafted free agent from a D2 program who comes in and looks like a high draft pick from the get go. Cutting bait and trading Darren Sproles was more than just a financial move, the staff liked their stable of backs enough to let Sproles go! Robinson is a player on the rise in Fantasy, maybe 2014 is the year that the Saints backfield becomes a little clearer.
WRITTEN AND COMPOSED BY NEIL DONOHOE FOR FAKE PIGSKIN. FOLLOW ON TWITTER @NEILDONOHOE