Fantasy Friday: State of the Jaguars Running Back Position in Fantasy Football

What to expect from the 2023 Jacksonville Jaguar’s Running Back room and whether you should target any of them in your Fantasy Football league.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Chargers v Jacksonville Jaguars / Courtney Culbreath/GettyImages

This is the second installment of Fantasy Friday, a series of weekly blogs diving into the fantasy football projections and value assessment for all the Jacksonville Jaguars players and their potential impact in Fantasy Football next season.

Now it's time for the running backs and here's a look at the Jags' options at the position:

Jaguars notable losses at running back from the 2022 season:

James Robinson

Robinson only played six games with the Jaguars in 2022 (excluding the Giants game where he didn’t have a carry), but he still had a significant impact on the offense in those outings. For the first three weeks of the season, Robinson outcarried Etienne 51-to-26 and also outscored him by 31 fantasy points.

While Etienne did break out in Week 7 against the Giants, recording three straight 100+ yard games and taking over the Jaguars' running back room, Robinson’s absence will give an opportunity to others in 2023.

Jaguars notable offseason additions at running back in 2023

Tank Bigsby

Tank Bigsby was picked in the third round of this year's draft. Touted for his explosiveness, he is expected to work his way up the depth chart with the chance of earning a significant timeshare with Etienne.

D’Ernest Johnson

This offseason, the Jaguars signed D’Ernest Johnson to a one-year deal. A hyper-efficient running back (4.9 yards per carry) in his four-year stint in Cleveland, Johnson was brought in to compete for the backup role.

Jaguars running back Fantasy Football projections for 2023

Travis Etienne

2022 ADP – RB22 | 2022 Finish – RB16 | 2023 ADP - 9

After concerns regarding how he would return from his injured rookie season and the threat of a timeshare with James Robinson, Etienne broke onto the scene in Week 7 and recorded 20+ fantasy points in three separate weeks including Week 17.

However, Etienne is now being drafted as a top-10 running back despite the high draft capital spent on Tank Bigsby. Pederson has rarely relied on solely one running back carrying the majority of the load on the ground. I am concerned that despite the talent, Etienne will not be given the workload to pay off his draft position. A major reason for optimism, however, would be positive touchdown regression:

Projections: 200 Rushes, 850 Rushing Yards, 7 Rushing TDs, 30 Receptions, 250 Receiving Yards, 1 Receiving TD – RB12

Recommendation: Not for me.

Tank Bigsby

Rookie | 2023 ADP – RB54

Black & Teal’s Beau Adams posted an in-depth article analyzing Tank Bigsby's expectations for fantasy football back in May.

While Beau is slightly more bullish on Bigsby's role in Year 1 than I am, I still believe that Bigsby can return significant value on his average draft position (ADP). If Etienne stays healthy, I don’t think any other Jaguars' running back will be worth starting on any given week.

However, if Etienne goes down with a significant injury, someone will take over the reins in some capacity. I have more faith that Bigsby, who averaged nearly 15 rushing attempts per game at Auburn, would be the back to receive the majority of the work.

I think Bigsby is worth a late-round draft pick or look to pick up after a few weeks if he gets off to a slow start and another fantasy manager gets impatient and drops him.

Projection: 70 Rushes, 300 Rushing Yards, 4 Rushing TDs, 10 Receptions, 75 Receiving Yards – RB40

Recommendation: Why not stash?

D’Ernest Johnson

2022 ADP – RB64 | 2022 Finish – RB134 | 2023 ADP – RB73

The Jaguars signed Immokalee, Florida native D’Ernest Johnson to a one-year, $1.2 million contract in March. The drafting of Bigsby certainly hurts Johnson’s place on the depth chart, but most important are some quotes Doug Pederson made about the signing, emphasizing Johnson’s role as a special teams player, via John Shipley of Sports Illustrated:

"Yeah, you know, when you're looking, you know, especially at running backs, [it's a] couple of things. Free agent value, how they play on special teams…But the special teams, for him, obviously, is something of importance as we look to these guys… You’re always looking to have two, three, four guys that can work the rotation at any given time."

Barring injuries ahead of him, I see Johnson as having little-to-no fantasy football value. However, if indications out of camp (or the first few weeks of the season) show Johnson in an elevated role, he would be worthy of a roster stash in case of an Etienne injury.

Projection: 25 Rushes, 120 Rushing Yards, 0 Rushing TDs, 2 Receptions, 14 Receiving Yards – RB80

Recommendation: Don’t draft, but keep an eye on camp reports and preseason.

JaMycal Hasty

2022 ADP – RB120 | 2022 Finish – RB59 | 2023 ADP – RB76

After the Jaguars claimed JaMycal Hasty off waivers in August 2022, he was elevated to the backup role after the Jaguars traded away James Robinson in October. He had a relatively successful year with his big game coming against the Ravens when Etienne was sidelined in the first quarter.

A pending restricted free agent following the 2022 season, Hasty signed a two-year extension with the Jaguars worth $1.4 million. Like D’Ernest Johnson, I do not see any value in drafting Hasty, barring unexpected training camp news, but is worth keeping an eye on to see where this depth chart shakes out.

Projection: 20 Rushes, 75 Rushing Yards, 0 Rushing TDs, 10 Receptions, 90 Receiving Yards – RB90

Recommendation: Don’t draft, but keep an eye on camp reports and preseason.

Do you have any questions on the data or anything else you would like to see in these articles going forward? Post your comment below or feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @DuvalAndrew904. Otherwise, keep an eye out for next Friday’s breakdown of the Wide Receiver room! Also, make sure to check last week’s assessment of Trevor Lawrence, you can read that below.

dark. Next. Fantasy Friday: QB. Fantasy Friday: What to expect from Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence in 2023