Travis Etienne Carries Some Concerns into 2023 Fantasy Football Drafts

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz
Travis Etienne Carries Some Concerns into 2023 Fantasy Football Drafts

With training camps opening up shortly, it's time to start doing research for fantasy football in 2023.

Here's a look at Travis Etienne, who had a nice second season after being injured for his entire rookie year. The Jacksonville Jaguars finished the season as one of the hottest teams in the NFL, and Etienne was a big part of that.

Going into 2023, what can we expect from Etienne?

Travis Etienne Fantasy Football Projection

Projections via numberFire.

Fantasy Points Projection: 249.4
numberFire Positional Projection: RB12
Projected Stats:

  • 1,284.0 rushing yards
  • 9.74 rushing TDs
  • 44 receptions
  • 337.0 receiving yards
  • 2.22 receiving TDs

Travis Etienne Fantasy Football Outlook

An Up-and-Down 2022

In the 2021 NFL Draft, Etienne was a rare running back selected in the first round of the NFL Draft in modern times. Disaster shortly followed, though. A Lisfranc tear ended Etienne's rookie campaign in the preseason.

To start the 2022 season, Etienne was splitting work with James Robinson. This limited his fantasy value; he didn't exceed 10 half-PPR points until Week 5. He did really get going after that, and it forced the Jags to trade Robinson.

Etienne went on to be the RB24 by half-PPR points per game, which doesn't seem too promising. He did have a three-game stretch where he had 18.4, 23.7, and 25.6 fantasy points, giving some hope that he can be an elite producer.

A troubling part of Etienne's season was his pass-catching -- or lack thereof. He saw just 7.9% of the team's targets and was targeted on just 14.2% of his routes. He had a reputation as a solid pass catcher coming into the NFL but wasn't utilized like that.

The ups and downs continued throughout the season, including three games under five points. That's obviously something that we don't want from a top back if we are going to use an early pick on him.

There were some reasons for this that were beyond his control. The offensive line in Jacksonville was not adept at run blocking. They ranked dead last in stuffed percentage and 28th in adjusted line yards. Etienne did his best with what was blocked for him, ranking fourth in rushing yards over expected per attempt, per NFL's NextGenStats.

This should bring some hope to see the talent he showed in college if the line can play better. They used a first-round pick on Anton Harrison, a tackle from Oklahoma. They also signed Josh Wells, a tackle who played all four playoff games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they won the Super Bowl in 2021.

The Evolving Offense

The Jaguars came into their own at the end of last season and relied on some players that others had written off. Many people probably weren't expecting an offense led by Evan Engram, Zay Jones and Christian Kirk to perform as well as they did.

Jacksonville had already made the move to bring in Calvin Ridley at the trade deadline to have him on their roster for 2023. Ridley is an elite talent that was only available due to some off-field issues that made the Atlanta Falcons want to move on from him.

This should open up the field a lot. It will be harder for teams to focus on the short passing game or runs with a deep threat like Ridley on the field. This should help Etienne to catch more passes as we know he's capable of doing. He caught 85 passes in his final two seasons at Clemson and, of course, is playing with the same quarterback: Trevor Lawrence.

The Jaguars' end to the season has them as one of the more fancied teams heading into 2023. They are the favorites to win the AFC South, one of the weakest divisions in the NFL. They'll also play the NFC South pp another one of the weakest divisions in the league. Jacksonville should have positive game scripts in these matchups, which would allow for more work for Etienne.

Another year of development for both Etienne and Lawrence should make the offense even better in 2023. According to numberFire's metrics, they were the 8th-best offense in 2022 but only 24th on the ground. If the offensive line improves, they should be more efficient running the ball.

Where Should We Draft Etienne in 2023?

Right now, Etienne is being drafted as the RB13 and the 34th player overall in half-PPR drafts. In FanDuel's best-ball contests, he's going right around the same range as the RB12 with an average draft position (ADP) of 35.3.

This takes a little bit of projecting for Etienne; it assumes he will be more consistent next season. He also will need to get better usage in the passing game to make the leap up from being last season's RB17.

Another way he could improve on last year's finish would be to score more touchdowns. With Jacksonville's offense improving like it has, he could be in more scoring positions. He also should get off to a better start to the season as he won't be recovering him an injury.

Etienne is being drafted around backs like Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker III, and Joe Mixon. A case can definitely be made that Mixon should go ahead of Etienne now that his contract has been restructured and has a secure role on one of the best offenses in football.

There has also been talk about scaling back some of his workload this offseason. The team did bring in D'Ernest Johnson and drafted Tank Bigsby in the third round, so the competition for touches will be steeper than it was at the end of last season.

He certainly has the upside to warrant a pick in this range of running backs, but there are some concerns we need to keep in mind when selecting him. The most notable questions will remain about the pass-game usage and the offensive line play. If he can overcome these questions, a top-10 finish at tailback is definitely possible.

The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.