Fantasy Football Player Profile 2024: Atlanta Falcons RB Bijan Robinson

2T3HHNJ FILE - Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) runs against the Washington Commanders during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in Atlanta. Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson's health will be closely watched this week after he was limited to only one carry after not feeling well before last week's game at Tampa. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Bijan Robinson does the hard things well, but now he needs to do the easy things: Robinson was one of the best running backs in the league last season on non-perfectly blocked runs, when he had to change points of attack or faced an eight-man box.

• The offensive line is ideal: The Atlanta Falcons kept all five starting offensive linemen, who all have high rates of positively graded runs, which should lead to more big plays by Robinson.

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The player profile series gives the most in-depth view of a player possible using the best data points at PFF’s disposal to look at how good the player has performed, what competition the player has for touches, and how other teammates and coaches will impact each player's performance.

Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Monday, July 8

Player performance

Robinson had a decent amount of volume in both the rushing and passing game to get excited for his sophomore season.

In the run game, his 12.6 rushing attempts per game were not what you would hope for in a feature running back. His attempts kept most of his cumulative rushing metrics average, but generally, he played well on a per-play basis. Interestingly enough, he averaged more yards per carry against an eight-man box than a seven-man box, which is unlikely to carry on this season. He also did a good job compared to most running backs when he had to change points of attack or when there wasn’t a perfectly blocked play.

Basically, he did a great job during the difficult runs but didn’t dominate the easy runs as well as we’d expect. He should be able to do a better job in his second season.

As a receiver, it was a little bit of the opposite. He had the volume needed to maximize his fantasy production but not the efficiency. Robinson was the best running back we’ve seen coming out of college in the past few years partly thanks to his receiving. Our draft guide that year said he was “like another receiver when split wide.” Part of his projection for 2024 includes believing he can better reach his potential, which would mean a much higher receiving grade, yards per route run and therefore fantasy production in the passing game.


Competition for touches

If Robinson plays the same number of snaps as he did last season, he’d have a chance for an excellent season. He was on the field for at least 60% of Atlanta's offensive snaps in all situations, and the below numbers include the game he barely played due to a migraine. He didn't receive the ball enough when he was on the field, which kept him from being a top-five fantasy player as a rookie.

Tyler Allgeier will be his primary backup for a second straight season. Allgeier was mostly in for clear rushing situations last season, so he often received the ball when he was on the field. He’s graded better than Robinson in both the run and pass game so far. It’s worth monitoring how much Allgeier plays with the starters in training camp. Robinson’s use in the passing game isn’t in doubt, but if the coaching staff likes Allgeier more as a rusher, that could quickly push Robinson out of the first round by ADP.

The Falcons spent a sixth-round pick on Jase McClellan in the draft and don’t have much experience at running back beyond that on the depth chart. If Robinson or Allgeier were injured at any point this season, we could see the other see play close to 100% of Atlanta's offensive snaps.


Impact of teammates

Bijan Robinson should benefit from playing behind one of the NFL's best run-blocking offensive lines. While most of the linemen have decently high rates of negative plays, they also have some of the best linemen at positive blocks. While the negative blocks lead to runs for little-to-no gain, the positive blocks can help spring big runs. For fantasy football, it’s generally better to have some bad runs and some huge runs rather than a bunch of OK runs. As mentioned above, Robinson didn't take advantage of this as much as he could, so a small improvement in play could lead to monster numbers in the run game.

It’s also worth noting the Falcons' entire offensive line from last season is returning, and everyone on that line played at least 800 offensive snaps on the year. Some of the line have played together for several years at this point. The more an offensive line plays together, the better it is for their grades and the team as a whole, so having this offensive line is one of the biggest reasons Robinson has a chance at RB1 this season.

The Falcons added Zac Robinson from the Los Angeles Rams (and from the PFF Analysis team before that), which could be really good or really bad for his fantasy value. If he follows Sean McVay's philosophy, the team should have one clear lead back. The Rams have had Todd Gurley II, Cam Akers, Kyren Williams and others take a feature role in the offense. If that’s Bijan Robinson, that’s great, but there’s also at least a chance it’s Tyler Allgeier while Bijan Robinson becomes more of a receiving back. It’s also possible Zac Robinson doesn’t follow in McVay’s footsteps for the running back rotation.

The Rams also haven’t prioritized throwing to running backs much, but they’ve also had a number of great wide receivers, including Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua, and haven’t had a running back that is as well-rounded as Robinson. It’s possible we see him run the ball more this year than last, but it comes at the cost of receiving production, which might hurt more than help in PPR leagues.


Bottom line

Robinson has a real chance at a breakout season if he takes more advantage of his offensive line and improves as a receiver. He should be considered a first-round pick because he has the upside for a Christian McCaffrey-esque season if that goes right, but his ADP could enter a free-fall if Tyler Allgeier is playing too much with the starters in training camp.


Footnotes
  • Statistics for the tables and charts were generally chosen based on their ability to predict future fantasy performance on either per game or per opportunity basis, or chosen for their ability to describe the player relative to other players at the same position.
  • Opportunities for this purpose are defined by passing dropbacks, rushing attempts and receiving routes run.
  • Numbers are either by season or based on the last three years. For rookies, only college numbers are included. For non-rookies, only NFL numbers are included, even if they played in college in the last three years.
  • Because college competition is relatively easier than NFL competition, it can be expected that most rookies will see a decline in their numbers compared to their historic numbers.
  • For all of the tables in this article, colors range from blue (good or high) to red (bad or low).
  • All percentiles or colors compare the given player to other players with a high sample of opportunities. Generally, it’s one-third of the possible opportunities given the sample. If the player in question doesn’t have enough opportunities, they are still compared, even though a player could look good or bad on that small sample size which might not be as predictive.
  • Information on running back utilization classifications and importance can be found here, wide receiver here and tight end here
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