One thousand seven hundred and 14 miles away from the front gate of Levi's Stadium, football fans in Ellis County's Gingerbread City are hurriedly shuffling lineups and preparing for the upcoming fantasy football season.
While usual suspects like New England's Tom Brady, Pittsburg's Le'veon Bell and Dallas' Dez Bryant are sure to be hot commodities in rounds one through three, one Waxahachie High School alumnus and member of last year's Atlanta Falcon Super Bowl team could be the answer for bye week and injury woes.
Former Indian speedster Aldrick Robinson, a fifth-year National Football League receiver that racked up more than 2,100 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns during his junior and senior seasons at WHS, signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers on March 10.
Competition, as it has shown in the past, may be the best catalyst to Robinson's rise in the fantasy-verse.
"Competition brings out the best in everyone," said new 49er Head Coach Kyle Shanahan said during a May 31 press conference. "All we have to go off of is watching tape from what they’ve had in the past. We want to balance everyone out, give everyone opportunities at each position. We need to see for ourselves, doing what we’re asking them to do, the techniques and the schemes and find out what the best place is for guys. There’s a number of guys we’re moving around.”
Robinson also re-joined forces with Shanahan, son of former Denver Bronco Head Coach Mike Shanahan. During Kyle, a former offensive coordinator, and Robinson's time together in Washington between 2011 and 2013 and Atlanta in 2016, the 5-foot-10 and 187-pound receiver was targeted 97 times in 45 games and turned that attention into 49 receptions, 925 yards and seven touchdowns.
His lowest yards per catch average (16.2) came last season competing for playing time with Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu. His highest (21.5) came when competing with Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan — serviceable pass catchers, but far from star-worthy.
According to rotowire.com, he scored 2.9 fantasy point per game (FPPG) in standard leagues and 3.6 in point-per-reception leagues in 2012. Those numbers were 2.8 and 4.0 with the Falcons despite the presence of Jones, a perennial Pro Bowler.
He joins Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, and DeAndre Carter on a receiving corps he is arguably the second-most accomplished.
Former Chicago Bears' quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley at San Fran's helm may not thrill the masses of fantasy fans looking for the next key to a championship and possibly a sizeable amount of "jelly beans." However, Robinson's familiarity with the offensive system — which is the most of any other receiver — should, even with the arm talent of Matt Ryan under center.
Mike's offenses blended the quick-hitting, stretch-the-defense-horizontal approaches of the Bill Walsh-inspired traditional West Coast passing game with a running game that utilized zone blocking. That system resulted in two Super Bowl triumphs for the Denver Broncos behind the arm of John Elway, the current executive vice president of football operations and general manager.
“There’s a genesis to it,” former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann said to the Washington Post in February before Super Bowl LI. “It has been morphed and expanded. People put their own personalities into it. The basic principles of the West Coast offense are that you’re going to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand quickly and you’re going to focus on getting yards after the catch. You’re going to use screens. You’re going to get the ball into the hands of the running back and treat those throws almost like running plays.”
Hoyer, too, was serviceable before his season-ending injury in Chicago. The ninth-year signal caller was 134 of 200 (67 percent) in six games and threw for 1,445 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Thirteen of his 134 completions were 20 or more yards and one was 40-plus.
The types of plays Theismann mentioned are perfect for Robinson, a receiver with the speed of a wideout and the size of a running back. The use of smaller backs in the backfield has shown profits in the past, specifically in the case of Green Bay Packer Ty Montgomery during the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
The 6-foot and 216-pound Mongomery averaged 4.5 FPPG in standard scoring and 7.0 in PPR formats in 2013. His 2016 numbers increased to 6.6 and 9.9, respectively, and forced ESPN and Yahoo Sports fantasy gurus to classify him as an RB/WR.
The double designation gave fantasy owners breathing room and created matchup nightmares for opposing teams. Only four inches shorter and 29 pounds lighter, Robinson could mimic Montgomery's production plus add a legitimate and serious vertical threat that could score points in bunches.
Fans may veer to bigger names — and players — like Bell, Brady and Bryant, but they would be wise to stash the North Texas product in their lineup because big gains could be coming soon to Northern California's premier franchise.
"The Playbook" covers topics from fantasy sports to professional football to golf to the Olympics and from local Ellis County buzz to the national storylines of the Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks and Stars and Texas Rangers. Readers can submit column ideas to the columnist via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.