Injuries continue to wreak havoc on fantasy lineups. With just two weeks left in the fantasy regular season, getting that win is now more important than ever.
Last week, Jacksonville Jaguars RB Travis Etienne sustained a rib injury that briefly forced him from the game. Unfortunately, it is still bothering him, placing his status for Monday Night Football in question. How should fantasy football managers handle this?
Latest Injury Update on Travis Etienne
Last week, Etienne left the game with what was then described as a chest issue. It was the second time this season he was forced from a game, only to ultimately return and play through the injury.
Etienne’s ability to return to the game assuaged fantasy managers’ fears for the time being. However, the fact that Etienne is still not fully healthy is obviously less than ideal.
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The good news is Etienne was able to practice all three days this week, getting in limited sessions each time. Of course, a full session would’ve been preferred, but any practice at all is a positive sign for his availability despite the questionable tag.
On Saturday, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported, “The Jaguars are optimistic that RB Travis Etienne (ribs) will be able to play Monday night.”
Fantasy Impact on D’Ernest Johnson and Tank Bigsby?
Rib injuries are no fun. While it is mostly a pain tolerance issue, that doesn’t make them easy to play through. There is a risk that Etienne will take a shot to the chest or fall the wrong way and be forced from the game.
Fantasy managers with Etienne should feel confident the RB1 will play Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. If he can make it through the game, this is a smash spot for a back that has been struggling over the past month.
From Weeks 5-8, Etienne scored no fewer than 22.7 fantasy points in any game. Since then, the Jaguars had their bye in Week 9, and Etienne has posted games of 6.4, 8.9, and 12.6. He’s trending in the right direction, but the spike weeks have been nowhere to be found.
The Jaguars are roughly nine-point home favorites against the Bengals. That means this is a game they project to control throughout, allowing them to feed Etienne.
When they do, it should work. The Bengals allow 4.6 yards per carry to running backs, tied for the third-most in the league. They give up 97 rushing yards per game. With game script in his favor, Etienne is locked in as an elite RB1 for Week 13.
With that said, this game is still on Monday night. Far stranger things have happened than a banged-up running back suffering a setback and not being able to do. That means fantasy managers must have a contingency plan in place.
As of Saturday afternoon, D’Ernest Johnson is only rostered in 14% of Yahoo leagues. Earlier in the season, Tank Bigsby was the clear RB2 behind Etienne. It’s probably too early to declare Bigsby an NFL bust, but the Jaguars have clearly given up on him for the 2023 season.
The journeyman former Browns RB, Johnson, has taken over the RB2 role. When Etienne exited the game last week, it was Johnson who handled seven carries and saw two targets.
Given the fact that Etienne is not 100 percent, it wouldn’t be surprising if Johnson mixed in a little more than usual. That concern is not enough to fade Etienne this week, though.
Despite the injury, Etienne checks in at RB2 in the PFN Consensus Rankings. Unless we get some bad news between now and Sunday morning, you have to start him.
If Etienne were to miss a game, Johnson would instantly vault into the top 24, possibly the top 18. It would be difficult to get him any higher because 1) he’s not as talented as Etienne, and 2) Bigsby is likely to see a larger workload behind Johnson than Johnson does behind Etienne.
At the very least, Johnson should be on more rosters as one of the best handcuffs available. In deeper leagues, Bigsby is worth stashing as well on the off chance he outplays Johnson should the opportunity arise.
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