Laurent Robinson, WR, and Chad Henne, QB, sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I've been singing Robinson's praises for three years, but even I couldn't have foreseen that he'd get $14 million guaranteed this winter. There's no question, Robinson was a breakout star in 2011, scoring 11 TDs and rescuing the Dallas Cowboys when their receiving corps was banged up. And the raw skills for this 26-year-old (he'll be 27 in May) have been there for years: He's a tall (6-foot-2) player with sub-4.5 speed. But he's also been a major injury risk for his entire career, having nursed leg injuries pretty much nonstop until last year. There's little doubt the Jags view Robinson as their new No. 1, but it's a leap of faith. And by signing Henne, the Jaguars are also admitting that they have doubts about Blaine Gabbert. Face it: The Gabbert we watched during his rookie year was so jumpy in the pocket that no wide receiver catching passes from him could possibly have fantasy value. Unless Gabbert is much improved for his sophomore campaign, it might bode better for Robinson and Mike Thomas if Henne takes over; Henne certainly is no star, but at least he was able to get a guy like Brandon Marshall the ball fairly consistently. Until this all shakes out, I don't think we can consider Robinson a top-100 player.
Le'Ron McClain, RB, signs with the San Diego Chargers. Mike Tolbert will leave San Diego, and McClain will probably assume some of his short-yardage duties. But McClain is a far less dynamic player than Tolbert; whereas Tolbert has averaged 4.0 yards per carry in each of the past two seasons, McClain has averaged 3.0 and 3.4, albeit with limited touches. (In '08, his one breakout season as a tailback, he averaged 3.9.) McClain has also shown no inclination toward being the kind of receiver Tolbert is: Tolbert caught 54 passes last year, while McClain has never caught more than 21 in a season. No, this is relatively good news for Ryan Mathews, who lost a good deal of his fantasy value to Tolbert (who vultured 10 scores last season) a year ago. Would it have been better for Mathews if the Chargers hadn't signed any other big back? Sure. That's why I think it's fair to downgrade him slightly because of this move. While I expect that McClain will be more of a fullback than anything else this season, San Diego has obviously shown a proclivity toward using a battering ram at the goal line. But I don't see McClain doing anything close to what Tolbert did, statswise, in '12, provided Mathews stays healthy. On heels of this news, I did lower Mathews from 11th overall in
my top 100 ranks to 14th, but I left him as my No. 7 RB.
Kellen Davis, TE, re-signs with the Chicago Bears. With Mike Martz gone from Chicago, the tight end position no longer needs to be a complete fantasy wasteland. In fact, new offensive coordinator Mike Tice was a tight end himself, and when he was the Minnesota Vikings' head coach, Jermaine Wiggins had 71- and 69-catch seasons. That means Davis re-signing with the Bears has the potential to be significant, at least in deeper leagues. Davis is listed at 6-foot-7 and 262 pounds and moves fairly well, lending credence to the idea that he could be Chicago's answer to the tight end revolution that overtook the NFL last season. Is he Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham right away? Of course not. But I do think Davis will wind up being a chic waiver-wire add at some point this season.