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Will James Robinson or Travis Etienne Be The RB1 For The Jaguars?

Travis Etienne Jr. fantasy football rankings draft sleepers running backs

With James Robinson suffering a torn Achilles deep into last season, it quickly became the expectation that a healthy Travis Etienne would be the Jaguars' RB1 this year.

Miraculously, Robinson avoided entering training camp on the PUP list and is already taking some reps with the first-team offense. If he continues to progress and sees some preseason action, fantasy players will need to decide which running back to target as we rapidly approach peak draft season.

Is Robinson or Etienne the best pick of the Jacksonville backfield? Let's take a look!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best NFL Series, MLB Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

How Will Injuries Impact James Robinson and Travis Etienne In 2022?

All signs point to Etienne suiting up in Week 1, but let’s assume both backs are cleared. It’s important to know if either or both will be hindered by their injuries at all this season.

Frankly, there is essentially no history of running backs returning to form following an Achilles rupture:

The unfortunate takeaway from this is that the bulk of D’Onta Foreman’s production came just last season, four years after his surgery.

Cam Akers tore his Achilles early last summer and shocked the world when he returned to action for the Rams in Week 18. He received a substantial workload throughout the playoffs but was largely inefficient.

Etienne suffered a Lisfranc injury last preseason that ended his rookie campaign before it began. These midfoot injuries, while also quite serious, have a more optimistic outlook.

There are two active players who have undergone Lisfranc procedures and bounced back. Wide receiver Marquise Brown and running back Elijah Mitchell both had the surgery in college and have achieved success at the NFL level.

It would be ignorant to say there is no cause for concern for Etienne, but he projects to be much more effective than Robinson, who is less than one year removed from Achilles repair.

 

Who Is The Better Running Back, James Robinson or Travis Etienne?

Despite Jacksonville having other glaring needs, they used a first-round pick to acquire Etienne in 2021. It’s hard to argue that he was not worth the price, however.

He received a prospect grade of 6.71 from NFL.com. This is the third highest score for a running back in the last five years, ahead of fantasy darlings Jonathan Taylor, Najee Harris, and Breece Hall.

Prospect grades aside, Etienne was an attractive selection for the Jaguars because of his existing chemistry with Trevor Lawrence. The Clemson duo won the 2018 National Championship and combined for almost 10 miles of offense in their three seasons together.

Etienne is 15th in NCAA history in career yards from scrimmage and fourth in touchdowns. Robinson is an awesome success story as an undrafted free agent, but his pedigree is nowhere close to that of Etienne’s.

 

Should I Draft James Robinson or Travis Etienne in 2022 Fantasy Football Drafts?

For the reasons outlined above, Etienne is clearly the running back to draft in 2022 regardless of Robinson’s Week 1 status. By just about all accounts, Etienne has been the star of the Jaguars’ camp.

Reports say that he looks explosive and is lining up all over the field. He was an elite prospect, has far less pessimism surrounding his health, and will look to build upon his past success with Lawrence under a new coaching regime in Jacksonville.



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