There is never a good time for a player to suffer a season-ending injury. But the fantasy football realm world is a heartless, “what now?” realm. As soon as a player goes down, one of the first questions is, “What does this mean for (insert name of next guy in the depth chart)?”
In the case of rookie Jaguars running back Travis Etienne, who is out for the season with a foot injury, that next guy for fantasy purposes is James Robinson.
Now, bear in mind, the Madman wasn’t convinced Etienne was going to be the workhorse even if he stayed healthy. Robinson was fantastic in his rookie season, producing far more than expected — and was a waiver pick who won fantasy leagues.
So we always anticipated Robinson still having a significant role. Significant enough to undermine Etienne’s value. Though the Jags didn’t draft Etienne to sit on the bench, so he too would have undermined Robinson’s value. At least, that was our thinking.
So, though we hate seeing any injuries and hate when players miss time, and we wish Etienne a speedy recovery, the removal of one of these two names from the Jacksonville offensive game plan is good news for fantasy managers. (Hey, we warned you earlier, we are heartless).
This vaults Robinson from Rounds 7-8 into the fourth-round range, in the company of J.K. Dobbins, D’Andre Swift and Miles Sanders. Robinson is probably the safest of these picks.
None of the others have had a season as productive as Robinson’s last year. Dobbins has to worry about QB Lamar Jackson and fellow RB Gus Edwards potentially stealing touchdowns. Swift is trapped on a Lions offense that could crater with Jared Goff at QB. Sanders has yet to get bellcow type carries, and it is unclear if the new Eagles coaching regime will deliver that type of volume.
None of these worries or complications exist for Robinson. He might not quite equal his success from last season, just because the line looks atrocious and they could lean more on the passing game with a rookie franchise QB in Trevor Lawrence now under center. But he should come fairly close, since any potential dips in volume due to game scripts or more passing could be offset by more efficiency, since teams will be less likely to focus on stopping the running game.
Etienne retains value in keeper and dynasty formats, because he is a young RB with high upside. You could try to deal him, but chances are you won’t get back healthy value. It could make sense to hold on to him and hope his hype returns next season.
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