Packers Dynasty Impact: RB Travis Etienne

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THEORETICAL DYNASTY PICKS FOR PACKERS

Nobody truly knows who GM Brian Gutekunst and company will select at number 29 overall. So we are having a little fun in our Dynasty world and considering options of position players that may fall into Green Bay’s lap.

Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore was the focus for our Green Bay Packers theoretical Dynasty pick in the most recent article.

Basically, I’ll explain how a particular player selected by the Packers would fare in both the Dynasty draft and on your Dynasty team.

Keep in mind, these are not players I think the Packers should take, just players they could take.

TRAVIS ETIENNE, RB, CLEMSON (Peds Rank: #3)

PACKERS’ RUNNING BACK SITUATION

I feel like some prefacing needs to be done, since we’re focusing on Clemson running back Travis Etienne.

Wait, what? Running back, you say? But doesn’t Green Bay have three solid backs? Aaron Jones, Jamal Williams and AJ Dillon are indeed legit. But anyone who’s been paying attention knows Jones and Williams are unrestricted free agents and are likely gone. 

There is an outside shot they franchise Jones, but it’s no guarantee. That would literally leave just a second year back in Dillon as the only one to tote the rock. 

So yeah, Green Bay taking a running back at 29 really isn’t that far fetched. 

There is a legitimate case to be made the neither Aaron Jones or Jamal Williams will be in the Packers’ backfield in 2021, with both being unrestricted free agents. At this current time, that means the door would open for not only AJ Dillon, but whoever they would select in the NFL Draft.

There’s some distance between Etienne, who is the 1B to Alabama running back Najee Harris’ 1A, in this 2021 class. The next handful of backs include a raw Kenneth Gainwell (Memphis), and exciting playmakers Michael Carter and Javonte Williams from North Carolina.

ODDS GREEN BAY SELECTS ETIENNE

A grand total of 10 running backs have been taken in the first round over the past 5 NFL drafts. If this holds serve, there’s a possibility one of the top 2 running backs in the 2021 class drops to Green Bay.

And if that does happen, it likely comes down to these two options: 1) The Packers wait a round or two to select a different RB like Gainwell or Carter. Thus, they’ll draft and fill a different need at number 29 (cornerback/offensive lineman). Or, 2) There will be a team wanting to trade into that spot for the Clemson running back’s services. 

Drafting Etienne at 29 overall would be the Packers suggesting their selection of Dillon in Round 2 of last season doesn’t fill all of their needs.

Essentially, the odds of GB drafting Etienne are slim. But trading up for a quarterback in the first round last draft was even more slim. So there’s that.

ETIENNE’S ROLE IN GREEN BAY

PASSING THREAT

Chances are, he would make hay right away as the third down and change-of-pace back. His receiving prowess has improved every year at Clemson. Just this past season Etienne caught 48 balls for 588 yards in 12 games. His explosive ability was constantly on display, averaging 12.3 yards per catch and garnering over 100 receiving yards twice. 

Aaron Rodgers proved he’s still an elite quarterback, and someone needs to replace the combined 77 catches that Jones and Williams received – nearly 20.7% of Rodgers’ total completions. A lot of those vacated 77 catches should go Etienne’s way.

Head coach Matt LaFleur loves to split out his running backs. Jones lined up 74 times as a wide out for Green Bay in 2020. To compare, Kareem Hunt of the Cleveland Browns, who played 150 more snaps than Jones, lined up just 50 total times at wide receiver.

This would bode well for Etienne as a pass catcher.

RUNNING THREAT

Etienne isn’t a one trick pony, either. His stat line of a ridiculous 4,952 career rushing yards, 78 touchdowns and 7.2 yards per carry is nuts. But it would be hard to envision Etienne carrying the ball a ton.

Not to be outdone, Dillon flashed, showing he was hard to bring down. He even had a little bit of a sneaky burst. If Dillon and Etienne indeed were to be the top two backs on the Packers’ depth chart, I would compare it to a Kenyan Drake/Chase Edmonds type of backfield. Edmonds, an explosive athlete a la Etienne, got opportunities in the passing game, showed big play ability, and filled in adamantly when Drake was hurt for the Arizona Cardinals.

If Travis Etienne were drafted by a team without a true Number 1 back, he’d be an automatic Top 3 Dynasty pick. However, if he landed in Green Bay, assuming Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams are gone, his Dynasty value would dip because of the presence of AJ Dillon.

DYNASTY DRAFT STATUS 

Unless you’ve lived under a rock you know that the value of NFL running backs have diminished aplenty over the last decade, which, ironically has made them even more valuable in fantasy football.

In the Dynasty world, it’s really a no brainer that Etienne is a Top 3 overall pick at this point (Harris and Jamar Chase being the other two). Some may even say Number 1 overall.

When an owner is in the grasp of a Top 3 Dynasty draft pick, they’re looking for immediate impact players. Specifically for running backs, someone who commands volume from the get-go. Think of Josh Jacobs two years ago. Guys like Deandre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, JK Dobbins, and Cam Akers this past season – all who showed flashes and have a clear path to be volume players. Harken back 4 years ago when there was the monster class of Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon. All starters right away, and all of them three down backs. 

Etienne would not be that guy in Green Bay. Not just this year, but for at least the next three. And remember, Dynasty is all about the short and long game.

Dillon is going to get his turn as the lead horse, meaning too many road blocks would be in the way for Etienne to totally fulfill his potential. The move would look really good on paper and in real life football for the Packers. But for Dynasty purposes, it’s not a great scenario.

FINAL ANALYSIS

Etienne is No. 3 overall in my current 2021 Dynast rankings. It would be hard to see him fall out of the Top 3 right now. But if he is a Packer, it is entirely possible depending on the landing spots of other top rookies. Harris is likely the Number 1 Dynasty pick, and if a few of the top wide receivers in the class land in can’t-miss scenarios with their new teams, Etienne may drop a bit.

The odds of Travis Etienne and Najee Harris being the top 2 backs selected in the 2021 NFL draft are astronomically high. And there just may be an interesting scenario where the one of them falls to Green Bay at number 29.

Dynasty owners have to assess what their current roster looked like at the time. If I’m wide receiver starved and holding the second overall pick, no doubt I’m picking a top pass catcher.

If I held pick 2 and I did not need a wide out, well, someone else probably would. Maybe, just maybe they’d pay a premium for one, and you’d get an already-proven RB1 in return.

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