The Jacksonville Jaguars will enter the 2022 season with an interesting running back situation on their hands with James Robinson and Travis Etienne Jr. set to be vital pieces of the offense.
After suffering a season-ending Lisfranc injury during training camp last year, Etienne is set to finally make his NFL debut when the team opens the regular season against the Commanders on September 11. The second-year back out of Clemson has gotten plenty of reps during the preseason, registering 17 carries for 52 yards through two preseason games.
A little bit of Travis Etienne - Endzone angles— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) August 21, 2022
8 for 29 yds pic.twitter.com/ZH2bOW6sos
Meanwhile, the incumbent starter Robinson has spent the offseason working his way back from an Achilles tear he suffered towards the end of last season. He told John Shipley of Jaguars Report this week that he is on pace to return for Week 1. Head coach Doug Pederson indicated that they’ll gradually increase his reps as he eases his way back onto the field.
It’s hard to make heads or tails of who will be the official “starter” for Jacksonville once Robinson returns to the fold in Week 1. Etienne has been slotted at the top of the depth chart throughout the preseason but we’re inclined to believe Robinson will assume the role when he returns.
Regardless of who get the title of starter, it may not matter that much as Pederson will most likely utilize both in different situations. ESPN’s Michael DiRocco suggested that the new head coach may utilize his backs the same way he did with the Eagles, splitting carries and reps throughout the season.
Fantasy football implications
Etienne is a top-20 running back in average draft position while Robinson is RB39 in PPR leagues. Fantasy managers may have jumped the gun on the Etienne hype considering that both backs will depress the value of the other.