Fantasy Football Preseason Injury Report: Travis Etienne Likely Out For Season, Rams Continue To Deal With RB Injuries
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr.
Injuries continue to pile up as we enter Week 3 of the 2021 NFL preseason. Below is a short recap of injuries from the past week to four fantasy-relevant players and how they could impact your strategies this year.
Travis Etienne Jr., RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Etienne was spotted in a walking boot after the Jaguars’ preseason loss to the Saints on Monday. Initial optimism was quickly quelled when it was revealed that the 2021 first-round pick had suffered a Lisfranc sprain — the same injury that sidelined quarterback Cam Newton for all but two games in 2019 — that would require surgery.
A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the mid-foot sprain and surgery to repair it will “likely end [Etienne’s] season.”
It’s tragic this injury occurred at all, but especially in a low-stakes preseason game. The news carries massive implications for fantasy football for this season and beyond. In the immediate term, James Robinson vaults into mid- to high-end RB2 consideration. He and Etienne were expected to form a running back committee and both had ADPs in the RB3 range.
Robinson was a true league-winner for many fantasy managers as a rookie last season. The 2020 undrafted free agent from Illinois State was utilized heavily after Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars parted ways before Week 1 and saw the sixth-most rushing attempts in the NFL. He shockingly finished fourth in total fantasy points behind only Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry (in half PPR scoring through 16 weeks) in spite of going undrafted in many leagues.
Robinson should see a hefty workload once again with Etienne out of the picture and should be a reliable RB2 with upside based on opportunity alone. Pass-catching running back Carlos Hyde could see additional targets now that the third-down role has been vacated and versatile receiver Laviska Shenault may be utilized more in gadget-type plays in Urban Meyer’s offense this year.
Etienne’s long-term and dynasty values also take a hit with this injury. A time frame for his return has a wide range of outcomes, dependent on the grade of the sprain — which is likely high in light of the need for surgical intervention. This could impact his Year 2 performance and subsequent value as a dynasty asset.
Adam Trautman, TE, New Orleans Saints
Trautman was carted off the field during the first quarter of the same game with a lower leg injury. He underwent further diagnostic imaging on Tuesday that revealed he had “escaped any major injury to his ankle/foot,” according to Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football.
Though no time table was provided, this is obviously good news for fantasy managers and the Saints, who are very lean at the tight end position. The team parted ways with veteran Jared Cook this offseason and Nick Vannett suffered a knee injury during Monday’s game. Vannett is set to undergo a MRI.
Trautman is expected to take on a larger role in Year 2 with Cook gone and star wideout Michael Thomas sidelined for half the season. Continue to monitor his health leading up to Week 1, as the Dayton product should still offer decent upside at a modest, low-end TE2 price tag barring a major setback.
If Trautman were to miss time, the Saints may need to turn to converted wide receiver Juwan Johnson — especially with Vannett’s health in limbo. Johnson was an undrafted free agent from Oregon in 2020. He appeared in seven games for the Saints last season and reeled in four of 10 targets for 39 yards.
Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Los Angeles Rams
Henderson suffered a thumb sprain during practice on Monday. Tests revealed the sprain is mild and is not expected to keep him out of Los Angeles’ Week 1 matchup against the Bears, sources told ESPN later that evening.
Any injury to a running back worth RB2 draft capital should warrant scrutiny. Henderson is expected to take on a much larger role in Year 3 with Malcolm Brown signing with the Dolphins and Cam Akers out for the year with a torn Achilles. Other names to monitor on L.A.’s depth chart (should Henderson’s injury inhibit his play) would be Xavier Jones and Jake Funk, whose ADPs are RB56 and RB98, respectively, on FantasyPros in half PPR.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions
Swift is recovering from a groin injury which may jeopardize his Week 1 availability.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell expressed concern to reporters on Tuesday about his Year 2 running back, who has been limited throughout training camp.
“We don’t know if he’s gonna be there,” Campbell said via Chris Burke of The Athletic. “We don’t know, even if he is, how much we’re going to get out of him.”
Swift is coming off a rookie campaign in which he competed for touches with veteran Adrian Peterson. He finished as RB21 in half PPR through 16 weeks. He currently sits atop the Detroit’s depth chart ahead of newly-signed free agent Jamaal Williams, 2021 seventh-rounder Jermar Jefferson and undrafted free agent Dedrick Mills.
Williams would stand to gain the most from Swift potentially missing time. The former Packers back has primarily been used as a change-of-pace player while backing up star Aaron Jones. In four seasons with Green Bay, Williams posted 500 rushing attempts for 1,985 yards and 10 touchdowns and has reeled in 122 of 155 targets for 961 yards and eight touchdowns.