Travis Etienne Fantasy
Once considered the herald gem of the 2019 draft class, Travis Etienne shocked the world and opted to remain at Clemson for his senior year. In only 12 games, Etienne surged for 914 yards on 168 carries while bursting onto the scene as a receiver with 588 yards on 48 receptions. Etienne is now the ACC’s all-time leading rusher and rightfully so. He possesses an incredible burst and vision that allows him to identify a hole before it opens and torch through the line. Once he’s in the open field, you might as well kiss him goodbye because there are few players that have shown the ability to chase him down. The part of his game with the most upside is his receiving ability as he solidified himself as one of the better pass catchers in the nation. I’m sure Etienne off the field is a nice guy, but once he steps onto that turf, he’s a bad, bad man.
- Height: 5’ 10”
- Weight: 210 lbs.
- Age: 22
- College Dominator: 26.4%
Gone are the days of coveting a running back that is just a ground and pound workhorse. Most NFL teams are looking for a dual-threat back that can catch the ball out of the backfield and turn dink and dump passes into chunk plays. Etienne is just that. Watching tape of Etienne early in his career would make you think that I am blowing smoke where it doesn’t belong, but he has completely refined his game. He catches the ball extremely well and doesn’t use his body. He is able to continue his route without having to stop and think too much about how he wants to secure the ball. His routes aren’t exactly the crispiest, but he’s a running back so he can get away with running what some of us may consider lackadaisical routes. Regardless, this man is a matchup nightmare for almost any defender guarding him out of the backfield.
My favorite part of Etienne’s game is his burst. I’ve used the expression of “being shot out of a cannon” for other running backs, but that simply does not fit for Etienne. His burst is elite and puts most others to shame. Not to mention the fact that his vision is exceptional and will allow him to hit a hole a split second quicker than other backs which will give him a leg up in the NFL. Most linebackers and defensive lineman won’t be able to match his quick decision-making either which can allow for Etienne to average a very healthy amount of yards in the NFL. Essentially, Etienne doesn’t need a specific scheme when it comes to his running. He can thrive in zone, trap, stretch, etc. schemes and that is exciting for every NFL franchise.
If you haven’t been able to see Etienne play (I was able to see him play in person), I would encourage you to go and watch a video or two of him. Everyone always wants to see how fast a running back can run in the open field. I’m going to put it to you this way, if this man wasn’t a running back, he’d be a fantastic deep threat receiver. He is so much faster and agile than nearly every linebacker he has gone up against. Once he gets to the second level, his speed is still greater than most defensive backs. It’s like watching a track meet every time he’s in the open field. Your best bet of stopping him in this scenario is to hope you can dive and catch his feet or that the turf monster gets him.
Etienne is a three-down back and that’s not a question, but NFL franchises will be concerned with his pass blocking ability. Sometimes he can be late to identifying who he needs to block and then executing that protection. This is not to say that he can’t stay on the field for pass blocking situations, but his game will need refining. Etienne is also on the smaller side of running backs and players at 5’ 10” and this shows when he takes hits. Etienne mostly relies on making people miss and his elusiveness and doesn’t show a power running style. There are times that Etienne will go full speed into a defender or push a pile, but most of the time, he is relying on making people miss with his agility and footwork. This makes him an easier back to bring down if you can land a good hit on him.
I don’t know if I have made this clear yet, but I love Etienne and most of the football community does as well. He has the capability of being a transcendent talent in the NFL for many years to come. A lot of analysts like to knock teams for taking a running back in the first round of the NFL draft, but when you have a talent like Etienne available, you take your shot (think Saquon Barkley at #2 in 2018). The Miami Dolphins are a dream fit for Etienne. Their offensive line was better than league average last year and will only improve with their recent signings and expected draft additions. Get Tua Tagovailoa to throw to his running backs a little bit more and you are looking at someone who will shoot to the top of fantasy draft boards this time next year.
Hailing from sunny Florida, Anthony is an avid football fan and fantasy football fanatic. He is known for his consistent trade advice and constant tinkering of his teams trying to make sure he has the coveted “perfect lineup”. If you want to make a trade, chances are he’s already thought about the exact offer you’re considering. Outside of football, Anthony is a school counselor and baseball coach. He cares just as much about his kids as he does football. A year away from marriage, his beautiful fiancee helps him religiously cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs every Sunday.