Comp Picks is a season-long, weekly series that looks at the incoming rookie class from all angles, tying everything together with an NFL player comparison (or a combination of players) to contextualize upside and risk.
Junior, 6-foot-0 and 215 lbs
Bijan Robinson is a name that most dynasty managers already know. He was the #1-ranked running back in the 2020 recruiting class, earning the #15 overall ranking and landing inside the Top 300 all-time recruits. The career he had at Salpointe Catholic High School justified that pedigree. His 7,036 career rushing yards are still the top mark in the 4A Conference in Arizona and second across all conferences in the state. His 103 rushing touchdowns also rank second all-time in the state and first in his conference. He accumulated 32 100+ yard performances, averaging 193 yards per game over his final two seasons in high school. He also added 836 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in his high school career. After arriving at Texas, the production continued. Through just 28 career games, Robinson has accumulated 2,959 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns, adding 805 receiving yards on 60 receptions and eight touchdowns through the air. His 134 scrimmage yards per game in three years ranks higher than Saquon Barkley and Heisman Trophy winners Derrick Henry and Barry Sanders.
Bijan is one of the last decade's most technically refined running back prospects. He's rarely the fastest player on the football field, but his space creation makes him incredibly difficult to tackle. Robinson's ability to make defenders miss in a phone booth is among the best in the class. His smooth yet significant cuts consistently create multiple yards of separation between him and oncoming tacklers. His ability to change paces and burst out of cuts will minimize scouts' concerns about his long speed. That change of pace, blended with his elite ballcarrier vision, allows him to create second and third-level lanes for him to burst through. Laterally, he moves like an elite athlete. He consistently jukes defenders, especially after catching the ball in space. However, Robinson isn't simply a running back that can occasionally catch a few balls and be effective. He has refined route-running ability, lining up in the slot and beating linebackers, safeties, and sometimes corners. The suddenness he plays with at running back translates to his routes, giving him a scary array of skills for opposing defenses to deal with. He attacks the ball with natural hands and optimizes yards-after-the-catch opportunities. When Robinson fails to make a defender miss with his lateral agility, he often compensates with fantastic contact balance. Arm tackles are a wasted effort against Robinson, and he plays through contact well, using his frame to drive through defenders and create extra yards.
As mentioned above, Robinson likely won't run the fastest forty-yard dash (if he decides to at all). While he looks faster each year, he'd probably run in the low 4.5-second area. But chunk runs are still prevalent on his film, and his ability between the tackles and in space maximizes his efficiency and lessens the concern of open-field speed.
The Comp Pick: Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers
The caveat with this pick is McCaffrey's size. His frame is much different, but these two players' play styles are strikingly similar. McCaffrey often wins with skill, with his patience and vision giving him success between the tackles and his lateral agility and slipperiness giving him success in space. He is a three-down weapon with some of the best hands in the NFL from the running back position. McCaffrey is a technically-skilled back that tested well in the pre-draft process despite his size. Robinson is a technically-skilled back that will perform well enough (should he participate) with the size of a traditional NFL bell cow running back.
It's not outlandish to believe that Robinson should be ranked as a top-five running back in dynasty before he steps on an NFL field. His profile screams elite play, and he is one of the only draft-eligible, landing-spot independent running backs in recent memory. The only obstacle to elite fantasy production is injury. Robinson is a projected first-round NFL Draft selection, and most signs indicate he'll be off the board before pick #21. Ideally, the team that takes him builds the entire offensive scheme around him, utilizing his receiving ability and maximizing the impact he can make. He should be in consideration at the 1.01 in superflex rookie drafts and should not make it out of the Top 3.
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