Is global warming real? Do we have a fair tax system? Does religion cause war? Is the value of the dollar worth anything anymore?
I mean, I suppose these are all heavy questions to ponder. But in terms of dynasty fantasy football, there’s an even deeper question asked at this time every single year: Does landing spot matter?
Believe it or not, the dynasty industry can be cutthroat. There are a plethora of individuals who know that in order to make a name for themselves, they have to be a contrarian. And this is where the concept of rookie landing spots come in.
It matters. Don’t let anyone else tell you different. Don’t overthink it. The system matters. The coaches matter. The organization matters. It all matters.
Now…does it matter for every single player? Probably not. Top tier talent normally trumps all. But for the vast majority of NFL players, the right fit is key. The same can be said when it comes to drafting said players in your dynasty football draft.
NFL DRAFT ROUND 1: WHOSE VALUE WAS IMPACTED MOST?
A lot of players selected in the first round, in terms of skill position, weren’t very surprising. All the names called on Thursday evening of Round 1 were “supposed” to be called.
But there’s one player whose name was called that came as a surprise to many in the dynasty industry: Travis Etienne.
Again, it wasn’t a shock his name was called, but when it was called.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a lot of needs heading into the 2021 Draft, as evidence of their paltry 1-15 record last season. It was written in stone they were taking Trevor Lawrence as the first pick, but they also held Number 25.
Their needs ranged from tight end, to wide receiver, to offensive line, and a few spots on defense.
One area where they didn’t? Running back. Not many saw it coming.
After a good night's sleep, I can objectively and without bias profess: The Travis Etienne pick was the dumbest pick in the history of planet earth.
— Andy Holloway (@andyholloway) April 30, 2021
ETIENNE’S ROLE WITH JAGUARS
Sure, we could be jumping the gun here. It’s a slippery slope trying to predict the usage of a rookie coming into the NFL.
But let’s look at what we do know:
- James Robinson bolted onto the scene last year and played in 14 of Jacksonville’s 16 games.
- Robinson finished second among rookies in rushing yards (1,070), second in receiving yards (344), and tied for third in total touchdowns (10). Arguably he would have finished first in all of those categories if he played all 16 games.
- Jacksonville bolstered their running back depth chart by signing reliable veteran Carlos Hyde this offseason.
Now let’s add the heralded Clemson rookie Etienne into the mix. It makes for a situation similar to what AJ Dillon found himself in last season with Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams already in tow. Albeit, Etienne is a much more coveted prospect than Dillon was, and Robinson doesn’t have the clout of Jones.
After the draft, dynasty owners’ jaws dropped after head coach Urban Meyer stated that Etienne would serve as a third down back.
Urban says he sees J-Rob, Carlos Hyde as the 1-2 punch, Etienne as a third-down back.
“We wanna be Top-8 in the league… and with James Robinson, Hyde and Etienne, we think we’re there” #Jaguars
— Mia O'Brien (@MiaOBrienTV) April 30, 2021
Etienne has the ability to catch the football, as evidence of his 48 catches his senior season. But to take Etienne at number 25 with an already crowded running back room just to make him a third down back? At this point dynasty owner wish they could read tea leaves, maybe then they’ll know how all of this shakes out.
ADDING MORE TO THE MIX
There are even more ingredients to this convoluted recipe.
Ingredient 1: Urban Meyer. We know what his coaching style was in college, but he’s never been a head coach at this level.
Ingredient 2: Trevor Lawrence. Granted he’s the highest graded prospect since Andrew Luck, but he’s still a rookie quarterback. Does he prefer to throw to backs? Will he check down instead of run it himself, since he’s very capable of doing so?
Ingredient 3: Familiarity. Lawrence and Etienne have been in the same backfield for the last three years at Clemson. They’ve won a lot of games together, including BCS titles. Will Lawrence get any say as to who he wants as a backfield running mate?
All of these added questions and scenarios leaves Etienne’s dynasty value in flux.
ETIENNE’S DYNASTY VALUE
Remember the dynasty mantra: It’s about talent and opportunity.
Etienne was a no brainer Top 10 dynasty rookie selection. Depending on your league’s scoring system, he was likely a Top 3-5 selection prior to the NFL Draft.
In dynasty it’s not only about the short term, but also the long term. However, even the long term prognosis is cloudy. If Robinson only had one year left on his deal, or Hyde was signed for the veteran minimum as opposed to almost three million dollars, dynasty owners would certainly feel a lot better about Etienne’s future prospects.
But Robinson has a couple years left on his deal – albeit worth less than three million dollars. His trade value wouldn’t be high either since today’s NFL doesn’t value the position much.
Obviously things can change. Maybe Hyde doesn’t make the team? Could a team inquire about trading for Robinson? Maybe an unfortunate injury occurs. But at this current time, in this current situation, Etienne’s value drops. He’s still a first round pick in rookie drafts. But he’s clearly out of the Top Five.