Travis Etienne Dynasty Value: Fantasy outlook for the 2021 rookie season

As one of the leading talents at arguably the most valuable position in fantasy football, Travis Etienne’s dynasty value is at a premium in 2021. After surprising the dynasty community by returning to school, Etienne comes into the 2021 fantasy season as one of the most valuable rookies of the class.

Travis Etienne dynasty value for 2021

It feels as if I have been writing about Etienne for a while, and it’s true. We were all looking at Etienne as a member of last year’s dynasty RB options and trying to see how his fantasy value would compare with the likes of Jonathan Taylor and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. 

Instead, Etienne went back to Clemson to chase another national championship and prove scouts wrong. It was the right decision for all intents and purposes, as he showed progression in an already-polished skill set.

The 2021 dynasty class of running backs is top-heavy but lacks depth. Etienne sits right among the top fantasy options and has a case to be the best option of the 2021 dynasty rookie class.

Etienne is a shifty rusher who has otherworldly home run speed. If he sees a crease, you will not catch him in the open field. Even though everyone knows of his breakaway ability, Etienne consistently destroys defenders’ angles. Players don’t realize how fast he is (sub-4.5) until it is too late. 

In PPR formats, Etienne’s proficiency in the receiving game increases his fantasy value immensely. There is a difference between being able to catch the ball and being a receiving weapon. Any RB in the NFL can catch the ball. However, few can be lined up as the “X” like Etienne has shown the ability to do. 

At 5’10”, 210 pounds, Etienne is one of the more electrifying players in the 2021 rookie class, and his dynasty value rightly reflects this.

Travis Etienne selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars

Did you all really think that James Robinson would come out unscathed? This is now a very intriguing backfield in Jacksonville. After a 10 touchdown and 1,414 total yards season, Urban Meyer stated he wanted to bring in competition, but I think few expected it to be Etienne. By bringing in Etienne, the Jags now have a dangerous but somewhat frustrating competition for touches. While Meyer said Etienne would be the third-down back, you don’t take a third-down back in the first round. Especially one who is not sharing the backfield with his college QB in Trevor Lawrence.

It would have been great if he was in an uncontested role, but Etienne’s value will remain relatively the same. This class of running backs is extremely weak, and the lowest you would reasonably select Etienne is the RB3. Essentially the same value he had before the draft kicked off. Thanks to his explosiveness, the ceiling is there, and he will be a reliable RB2 with some RB1 weeks sprinkled in along the way.

Etienne goes down as one of the best RBs in recent history

Etienne played in 12 games for the Tigers, rushing 168 times for 956 yards and 14 touchdowns. We knew the rushing was there. The development in the passing game is what stood out. He caught 48 passes for 588 yards and 2 touchdowns during his senior season.

Travis Etienne finished his collegiate career with 686 rushes for 4,952 yards with 70 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 102 passes for 1,155 and 8 receiving touchdowns in 1,852 career snaps over 55 games.

In addition, Etienne is also the NCAA FBS record holder for most career games scoring a touchdown (46 of his 55 career games). He is one of only 12 players in FBS history with 4,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards. 

Where should you draft Etienne in dynasty rookie drafts?

In 1QB dynasty formats, Etienne is clearly behind Najee Harris after going neck and neck throughout the offseason. Everything from the versatility to the explosiveness makes him a special player that would slide directly into the RB2 on any dynasty roster. Even if I miss out on Harris this year, I feel that my team significantly improved regardless.

Etienne’s fantasy value will see him likely go inside the top four picks in 1QB dynasty leagues. Joining him is Harris, DeVonta Smith, and Ja’Marr Chase in most cases.

The 2021 class is not as deep as we saw last year, and the NFL Draft made it even worse after some brutal landing spots. The value is at WR, so I would advise you, if Etienne is on the board in dynasty drafts, to consider him against any other player not named Harris due to the drop past him, Harris, and Javonte Williams.

If you are in a Superflex format, a few more players enter the conversation

If you are in a Superflex league, Etienne’s teammate Trevor Lawrence should go first, given his skill and positional scarcity of the format. At 1.02, things will vary based on team needs. Conventional wisdom would likely be Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, or Harris dominating this spot. Etienne slides down to the No. 9 selection for me in this format.

I would recommend being at least in the fifth draft slot if you want Etienne on your dynasty roster. While he may slide to sixth, any further than that, and I believe you are playing with fire.

Historically, RBs like Etienne produce early in their dynasty careers

I brought this up when discussing Lawrence’s fantasy value in dynasty leagues, the best QB prospects can struggle out of the gate. The learning curve can make even the most polished prospects have difficulty adjusting.

Wide receivers need a lot of things to break their way. Several factors are out of their hands, with situations, schemes, and QB play being such large factors. However, the more we see players like Justin Jefferson and Brandon Aiyuk flourish as rookies, the more impatient we become in the dynasty community. 

This is where the running back can take his value into his own hands a bit easier. Looking at running backs drafted since 2016, 32 ended their rookie season, averaging 11.23 PPR points or more. 11.23 points were the average per game required to finish as the RB24 (J.K. Dobbins) in 2020. 

When we thought Etienne was coming out last year, he was in a group of three for the best pass catchers of the class, which is a huge boost to his fantasy value in dynasty formats. It was him, Edwards-Helaire, and D’Andre Swift. 

Etienne has a chance to go as the first running back off the board, and could be selected in the first round. Given his skill set as both a rusher and receiver, Etienne could quickly become one of the best RBs in dynasty, particularly in PPR fantasy formats where a catch vastly outweighs a carry. It would not surprise me if once the 2021 dynasty season wraps up, Etienne is considered the RB1 of the class.

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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