The Atlanta Falcons selected running back Bijan Robinson with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Here what you need to know about how his Fantasy stock in both season-long and Dynasty formats is affected by his landing spot.
Robinson's Fantasy fit with the Falcons
The Falcons earned the highest rushing grade in the NFL in 2022 according to Pro Football Focus and they did so without a bunch of big names on the offensive line. They did it with an excellent and diverse run blocking scheme installed by head 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. A strong case can be made that Robinson is an even better prospect than Henry was entering the draft.
Although the Falcons found a lot of rushing success with 2022 rookie running back Tyler Allgeier, it's difficult to imagine any kind of true split in work for anything longer than the first few weeks of the 2023 season. Smith has found success with a bell-cow in the past with Henry and the same will be the case with Robinson in 2023. The offense will operate through their new featured back and he is likely to creep all the way into the back-end of Round 1 of Fantasy draft once the hype builds throughout training camp and the preseason. Remember, just a few years ago Clyde Edwards-Helaire creeped into the back end of Round 1 of Fantasy drafts as a rookie.
Robinson has long been prognosticated as the first overall pick in Dynasty formats, and that speaks volumes as to how sure the community is about him as a prospect. I share in their certainty and wouldn't consider any other non-quarterback no matter where Robinson is eventually drafted. Having said that, in two-QB and Superflex leagues, Robinson could slide a few picks down the draft board. After landing in an incredible landing spot like Atlanta, especially for immediate impact, there will not be a single non-quarterback who surpasses Robinson in rookie drafts and a case can be made that he belongs No. 1 overall in Superflex formats.
Bijan Robinson: What to know
Robinson's 2023 combine performance all but guaranteed he would be the first running back off the board in this class. Robinson has all of the traits and production that translate to the NFL level. On top of that, he performed progressively better in each of his three seasons at Texas with his 2022 season so dominant that he received a 95.3 overall grade from PFF.
What stands out the most to me about Robinson's 2022 season -- and this was the case in all three of his seasons at Texas -- was how hard he was to take down in the open field. Robinson set a record for the most forced missed tackles in a single season per PFF's game charting -- he topped the triple-digit mark with 102 forced missed tackles. Elusiveness is often an excellent predictor of future success for a running back at the next level because it's the type of skill that can translate to any scheme and situation for the most part.
Since the rest of this profile will be dedicated to Robinson's strengths and weaknesses on tape, his Fantasy outlook, Dynasty outlook and some fun stats, let's take a little bit of time to talk about his accomplishments first. They are certainly worth noting. He won the Doak Walker Award in 2022 as the best running back in the nation. His other 2022 honors included First-Team All Big 12, a unanimous All-American honor and a top-10 finish in the Heisman Trophy voting.
And since I always like to mention "breakout age" when projecting prospects from college to the NFL, Robinson also fits into that bucket -- he was incredible as a freshman -- culminating in his game-changing performance in the Alamo Bowl (he won MVP). Robinson is the type of rare prospect at the running back position who doesn't come through every class and he's going to make an early impact in your Fantasy Football leagues no matter where he ends up being drafted.
- RB profiles: Tyjae Spears | Jahmyr Gibbs | Zach Charbonnet
Age as of Week 1: 21 | Height: 6-foot-0 | Weight: 220 | 40-time: 4.46
Comparable body-type to: Saquon Barkley
We're breaking down everything you need to know about Walker from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.
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- Production was a constant. Robinson averaged a ridiculous 6.3 yards per carry throughout his college career.
- Robinson's defining trait for me is his ability to stop and start his momentum. If you have him dead to rights inside the tackle box, he will consistently burn you with his ability to create space inside that small box. This trait is the defining reason why he racked up historic forced missed tackle numbers, and I haven't watched a running back prospect with Robinson's ability to do this since Saquon Barkley.
- Robinson has already demonstrated the natural ability to catch the football out of the backfield but he also has had success when lining up on the outside as a receiver. This makes him a high-upside projection for both NFL teams and your Fantasy Football teams as we know a target is worth roughly three times as much as a carry in Fantasy Football (PPR).
- Robinson broke out at an early age and consistently improved throughout his three college years.
- Contact balance is absolutely elite. Like his stop-and-start ability, his contact balance is as good as we've seen from any back in the last decade.
- Robinson runs with good pad level and tends to win the leverage battle (through contact) more often than not.
- Lateral agility is elite and Robinson moves like a running back prospect who is sub-200 pounds despite being a 220-pound running back. He can change directions and lose little to no momentum.
- Springy runner both when he first touches the football and then once he's out in space.
- Robinson can fit in any blocking scheme at the NFL level. If you put him in a zone scheme, he has demonstrated the ability to be a one-cut and get vertical runner. But if you run more power/gap concepts in your run game, Robinson has the combination of speed and strength that could make him an even more dominant producer in that scheme.
- Robinson is already a nuanced mental processor at the position and you can see it from his vision cuts and ability to tempo his runs, anticipate his blocks and also anticipate where the cut-back lanes will be.
- Much like Barkley (who we keep coming back to as a comp), in just about any game you watch Robinson, you'll see some plays where he believes in his athleticism too much and leaves some yardage on the field while trying to create a chunk play.
- Robinson hasn't racked up the kind of production from a volume standpoint that you might want -- topping 200 carries in a season just once and with 86 as his total in one of the three seasons at Texas. Some might view this as more of a positive considering he'll enter the NFL with less wear and tear.
- Robinson has dealt with several injuries throughout his college career -- neck, shoulder, elbow -- nothing serious though.
Advanced stats to know
- 104 forced missed tackles in 2022 -- breaking the all-time PFF record for most forced missed tackles in a season.
- 39% forced missed tackle rate (per touch) -- best since PFF began charting in 2014.
- 22 carries of 15-plus yards in 2022 -- ninth-most in the nation.
- 1,071 yards after contact in 2022 -- fourth-most in the nation
Robinson has the same physical build as Barkley, but I believe he's a different (and better) runner. Robinson reminds me of a faster and quicker version of Marshawn Lynch with a bit less physicality than Beast Mode.