After being selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft, Travis Etienne spent his rookie year on the shelf after tearing his Lisfranc in Week 2 of the preseason. After making a full recovery, Etienne was primed to be Trevor Lawrence’s do-it-all sidekick in 2022.
Throughout the 2022 offseason, Etienne was touted as a potential league winner that could be drafted in the ‘RB Deadzone.’ The hype surrounding Etienne was a product of his college connection with Lawrence and his potential to have success in the passing game.
The Etienne hype train led to fantasy managers paying a relatively high cost. Etienne was flying off the board in the fourth round (even the third in some drafts) despite never playing an NFL snap. His ADP was RB18 and finished the year as RB17 (PPR). While he was certainly not a bust, he was not the game-breaking, PPR monster that many expected.
Yet, the fantasy community seems to be even more bullish on Etienne this year, with his ADP up to 35th overall (RB12). Let me make my opinion clear on this: I am not touching Etienne with a 10-foot pole at this current price.
Everything about Etienne screams disappointment for this season.
NEW COMPETITION IN TOWN
Enter Tank Bigsby, the third-round selection for the Jaguars. As the name suggests, Tank is a powerful and upright runner with an NFL-ready frame. The Auburn product put on a show during his junior year before entering the draft.
Bigsby will not be competing for the starting job in Jacksonville. However, he will be a factor in Jacksonville’s offensive attack. Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson is notorious for utilizing multiple running backs. During his time as the Eagles’ head coach, no running back averaged more than 13.7 attempts per game. Pederson’s tenure in Philadelphia also featured two seasons where multiple backs received 10-plus carries per game. This does not bode well for Etienne, especially with a quality runner in Bigsby entering the picture.
I believe Bigsby will play a prominent factor around the goal line. Bigsby has the frame and running style to succeed in goal-to-go situations. On top of this, Etienne struggled inside the 10 last year. In 2022, he carried the ball 23 times inside the 10-yard line but converted these carries into just four touchdowns. This was the lowest number of TDs of any RB who received at least 20 carries from inside the 10. I believe Etienne’s goal line volume will see a significant hit with Bigsby in the picture. I have a hard time seeing Etienne returning value on his RB12 investment.
Etienne was a phenomenal pass catcher out of the backfield when he was at Clemson. Many expected that this would translate to a large role in the passing game for the Jaguars. Regardless, this was just not the case in 2022.
Etienne maintained a 7.8 percent target share and racked up 316 receiving yards on 35 receptions. This is simply not the production that was expected. None of these numbers are particularly solid for a running back, and his target share is especially concerning. I think people who are taking Etienne in the RB12 range are in denial of his receiving production from last year and believe he may return to college form. Still, all signs point to Etienne not being a serious factor in the Jaguars’ passing attack.
2023 also introduces Calvin Ridley into the mix. Ridley has shown the impact he can have on an offense during his time with the Falcons.
A pass-catching group that features Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, and now Ridley will make it incredibly difficult for Etienne to make a meaningful impact through the air.
THE FINAL TAKE
To keep it short and sweet, Etienne is not in consideration for me at his current price. He is being drafted far too close to his ceiling for my liking, and I do not enjoy the risk that’s currently associated with him. A reduced workload and no guarantee to be a factor in the passing game are both concerning to me. After his 2022 performance and the addition of Bigsby (alongside D’Ernest Johnson and Jamycal Hasty), I don’t understand how Etienne is jumping up draft boards to the RB12. I might have to talk with The Wolf, considering he currently ranks ETN RB11 on his 2023 Fantasy Rankings.
Etienne had productive weeks throughout the 2022 season. However, his situation has done nothing but decline coming into the 2023 season. Etienne has the talent to prove me wrong but I just don’t see his third-round cost paying off this season.