Travis Etienne 2021 NFL Draft profile: Fantasy football outlook, Pro Day stats, 40-yard dash, scouting report

After recording 8,864 total yards and 115 total touchdowns for Jennings High School in Southwestern Louisiana, Travis Etienne was tabbed as a four-star recruit by 247 Sports and went to Clemson. Etienne truly broke out during his sophomore season at age 19 when he ran for 24 touchdowns and 1,658 yards. He improved on his receiving skills during his junior and senior seasons (85 catches, 1,020 yards, six scores through the air in 2019-20) while amassing massive rushing numbers (over 2,500 yards).

Etienne left Clemson as a two-time ACC Player of the Year (2018-19), the ACC’s all-time leading rusher (4,952 yards) and as the NCAA’s all-time leader in games with a touchdown (46).

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about Etienne from a Fantasy manager perspective, including best fits, Dynasty outlook, measurables, scouting report, key stats and an NFL comparison.

Fantasy fits

Atlanta Falcons

Etienne isn’t a bruiser like Arthur Smith’s last running back, but Smith values versatility and promises to adapt to his players’ talents. To that end, trusting Smith to deploy Etienne properly and frequently in his scheme would be easy for Fantasy managers to do. Matt Ryan doesn’t have a track record of ignoring his running backs out of the backfield, and the Falcons receivers would keep safeties from focusing on Etienne. A lack of competition for playing time is a tiebreaker over other possible destinations.

Miami Dolphins

Last year we saw the Dolphins lean on a primary back. It was usually Myles Gaskin — he played at least 61% of the snaps in each of 10 games and had at least four receptions in seven matchups. Etienne could quickly relegate Gaskin to a backup role and become an explosive component behind a solid offensive line. The Dolphins have the draft capital to splurge at running back if they so choose.

Pittsburgh Steelers

When coach Mike Tomlin finds himself an effective, reliable running back, he has typically favored leaning on him. Etienne might remind him of the good ol’ days with Le’Veon Bell. Fantasy managers sure remember those days. Problem is the Steelers offensive line isn’t what it once was, nor is their quarterback. That might prevent Etienne from maximizing his stats, but it wouldn’t keep him from potentially being a weekly 15-plus-touch running back.

San Francisco 49ers

It’s not in the Shanahan family DNA to draft a running back early — unless it’s a special talent. Etienne qualifies as special, and his versatile skill-set would probably break the formula for utilizing multiple backs in San Francisco. The offensive line is massive and the playcaller is a genius.  

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Dynasty outlook

Fast and lean running backs like Etienne don’t always pan out. Sometimes they take on too many injuries and fade (Cadillac Williams, David Wilson), sometimes they become studs for a few seasons (Jamaal Charles, C.J. Spiller), and sometimes they turn into superstars (Alvin Kamara). Etienne’s ability to stay healthy through four years at Clemson is a good thing, but it’ll come down to which team drafts him and how he’ll be utilized that makes or breaks his Fantasy value. If a team sees him as the next Kamara, he should be in position to help Fantasy managers for at least four seasons. Short of that, Etienne will carry some bust potential that might scare some people off. Figure him to get picked anywhere from first to sixth overall in rookie-only drafts.

Scouting report


  • Thick thighs as part of a strong lower body.
  • Familiar with all types of rushing schemes with excellent ability in power blocking schemes.
  • Lined up primarily in offset pistol but would also play outside, slot and in-motion pre-snap.
  • Usually did a great job diagnosing and following his blockers. Combination of good vision and very good patience helped him let plays develop.  
  • Very good speed and agility. Etienne’s acceleration and burst are nearly instantaneous, making him tough for defenders to catch. Big-play potential on every touch.
  • A cinch to get to the edge on outside runs and turn the corner for positive yardage.
  • Very good ability to pick up his speed after stopping or shuffling his feet. He’s terrific at planting his foot, making his cut and exploding.
  • Light-on-his-feet cuts that put defenders on skates and bought him space over and over.
  • Created yards with spin moves, hesitations and head-fakes that froze defenders. Here’s a look at Etienne following a block, using a hesitation move and then speeding down the sideline:
  • Did a good job breaking away from tackles at his legs, creating yards after contact.
  • Despite small stature, Etienne would consistently gather momentum thanks to his strong legs and speed to help him fight, push or fall forward for as many as 5 extra yards to end a play.
  • And because of his small stature, Etienne was able to squirt and squeeze into and through tight spaces. Sometimes he’d slide into a thin rushing lane and come out the other end into open space, and sometimes he’d burrow between the hog mollies to convert a down of 1 or 2 yards. This trait could help him win at the goal line.
  • Very good pass-catching skills. Natural hands used to reel in receptions and smooth, fluid body movement to quickly adjust from receiver to runner after the catch. Only two drops in 2020.
  • Experienced running screens, flares, go routes, shovels, digs and more.
  • Regularly made very good adjustments to off-target throws.
  • Didn’t struggle handling punishment as a runner or a receiver. Took a bunch of hard hits over the course of his career and would occasionally leave the field for a short period of time but frequently would just pop back up after the hit and move on to the next play. 
  • Etienne didn’t miss a game or suffer a significant injury from 2018 through 2020.


  • While his lower body is strong, his upper body was wiry. Weighed around 205 pounds as a senior. (Etienne has added weight since his last college game, weighing at 215 pounds on his pro day in March 2021, and still ran two 4.4 times in the 40-yard dash.)
  • Frequently was stopped in his tracks once a defender got a body on him above the waist.
  • Took a lot of ferocious-looking hits in college. Despite proof of durability at the college level, there is concern about his durability in the pros.
  • Below-average pass protector, both in terms of ability and experience. He ran a lot of routes in passing situations, but when he did stay in to block he would misdiagnose rushers and/or not do much to stand them up. He needs work there.
  • Eight fumbles through four seasons isn’t that worrisome (one every 98.5 touches), but four fumbles in 2020 (one every 54 touches) hints at a possible problem.

Stats breakdown

G Att RuYds Avg TD Rec ReYds Avg TD
2020 12 168 914 5.4 14 48 588 12.3 2
2020 v top 25 4 55 333 6.1 5 23 206 9.0 0
2019 v top 25 4 55 281 5.1 3 13 195 15.0 2
Career 55 686 4952 7.2 70 102 1155 11.3 8

Advanced stats to know

(all from 2020)

  • 3.84 yards after contact per attempt, 45th best
  • 822 yards after contact, fifth-best
  • 43 missed tackles forced, 12th best
  • 2.26 yards per route run, ninth best
  • 0.57 yards per target, 30th best
  • Converted a third down on 72.2% of his third-down rushes

NFL comparison

When Etienne weaved his way through defenders and broke through lower-body tackles, he looked like Kamara. If he’s used out in space as well as placed behind a good offensive line, he can be just as productive as Kamara. One thing Etienne (and Kamara) have done a good job with is avoid big injuries. The sky’s the ceiling for the Clemson Tiger if he can keep that up in the pros, but the countless running backs who enter the league under 220 pounds and suffer injuries from wear-and-tear (or otherwise) are the cautionary tale. 

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