Robinson enters the NFL as the highest-regarded prospect at the running back position since Saquon Barkley, and some would argue he's a more complete back. The Falcons earned the highest rushing grade in the NFL in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus, with an excellent and diverse run blocking scheme installed by coach Arthur Smith and his assistants. Smith coordinated a dominant rushing attack as offensive coordinator with the Titans led by Derrick Henry, and the blueprint is likely to be the same now with a talent like Robinson. Robinson set a record for the most forced missed tackles in a single season, per PFF's game charting, and he enters the NFL as one of the biggest mismatches in the passing game at the position. The Falcons will get him the ball early and often in the red zone, early downs and in the passing game. He is screaming up draft boards as we speak and you'll probably have to use a mid-first-round pick to get him. Robinson should be the first pick overall in rookie-only drafts.
Nobody dislikes Robinson as a fantasy prospect. The only question is whether he’ll go too early in 2023 drafts. The rookie has already climbed comfortably into Round 1 in non-superflex formats and commonly goes as the third or fourth RB.
Robinson certainly has the potential to score like that. But there’s clear risk to spending your first pick on a guy we have yet to see in the pros.
Our projections say it’s not a crazy spot for Robinson, but we do have a couple of RBs in front of him.
What We Learned Last YearHow much could we learn about a guy who has been a star the whole time?Robinson arrived at Texas as the nation’s No. 1 RB recruit. He shared work with Roschon Johnson and future Cardinal Keaontay Ingram as a true freshman before taking over the past two years.Robinson racked up 1,422 scrimmage yards and 15 total TDs through 10 games in 2021 before succumbing to an elbow injury. He followed with 1,894 total yards and 20 total TDs as a junior in 2022.Robinson averaged 6.3 yards per rush for his career and posted stellar receiving efficiency. He averaged 13.4 yards per catch for his college career, across 60 receptions. Robinson averaged at least 11.3 yards per catch each year. And his 6.8-yard average depth of target in 2022 – according to Pro Football Focus – shows that he was catching much more than screens, swing passes, and dump-offs.Robinson delivered an 86th-percentile college dominator rating for the position, which measures a player’s share of his offense’s yards and TDs.He followed his terrific three-year run with impressive testing numbers. That included an 82th-percentile 40 time among RBs, an 89th-percentile speed score, and 80th percentile or better vertical and broad jumps.The Falcons drafted him eighth overall in April.What to Expect in 2023The past four RBs to get drafted inside the first half of Round 1 fared pretty well:Saquon Barkley led all RBs in fantasy points in 2018.Leonard Fournette finished seventh in PPR points per game in 2017; ninth in total points despite missing three games.Christian McCaffrey ranked 10th in total PPR points that same year. He’s done all right since.Ezekiel Elliott finished second among fantasy RBs as a 2016 rookie.Before that: Melvin Gordon struggled with TD luck in 2015, but Todd Gurley (2015) and Trent Richardson (2012) both delivered right away.Robinson’s draft capital points to immediate opportunities. These Falcons had spent minimally at RB before drafting him. That included small free-agent deals for the likes of Mike Davis, Damien Williams, and Cordarrelle Patterson (before re-signing him ahead of last season). Tyler Allgeier arrived in Round 5 last year.Atlanta touted “positionless” football after selecting Robinson, answering questions about how they’ll fit multiple RBs into the offense. We’re not betting on Robinson spending quite that much time running WR routes. But there has already been practice video of him flexing out to WR spots in the formation.The main question we can’t answer is just how much of the rushing workload Atlanta will give him. On one hand, you’d expect the Falcons to avoid breaking down their new prized possession. But teams historically don’t tend to take a RB that high without a workhorse plan.Atlanta ranked as the second most run-heavy offense in the league last year. But that changed some after QB Desmond Ridder took over. The Falcons ranked 32nd in situation-neutral pass rate through Marcus Mariota’s 13 starts. They climbed to 24th with Ridder. And the 2021 version (with Matt Ryan) went 60.9% pass.Expect plenty of running here. But there’s at least a chance the Falcons don’t go quite as heavy there as many assume.Robinson, of course, has showed out as a runner and receiver and will be heavily involved either way.
Robinson was selected in the first round of April's draft. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Texas product is easily the class of the 2023 rookie RB class, with the size, speed (4.46 40-yard dash) and skill set to be a three-down superstar in the pros. Robinson's collegiate rushing efficiency was elite, as he posted a 4.1 YAC (fourth in this year's rookie class) and 3.0 forced missed tackle rate (first) during 31 games. He's also a capable receiver, having posted a 60-805-8 line in his career, which included a class best YPR (13.4) and YPT (9.8). All six RBs drafted in the top 10 since 2011 have finished their rookie season top 15 in fantasy PPG (three finished top five), which only adds to Robinson's 2023 appeal. He's a no-brainer top pick in 2023 rookie drafts and a strong RB1 with elite upside in season-long formats.