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Major Concerns for Etienne Stemming from Lawrence?



When quarterbacks check the ball down at a high rate, it’s often the running backs that get fed – we saw this happen early in the season in Weeks 1 through 5 when Baker Mayfield had the 6th-highest checkdown rate in the league and Christian McCaffrey simultaneously had the most receptions. Not all quarterbacks are Baker Mayfield, though (thankfully) – and pushing the ball downfield will limit the number of targets to RBs on a team.


Trevor Lawrence does NOT like to take the easy way out.

Among QBs to start 10 or more games, the bottom 5 in checkdown rate are pictured. Notice anything interesting?


If you said that Trevor Lawrence’s checkdown rate was the lowest in the league last year – and by a whole three percentage points – you’ve got a good eye! Lawrence was a statistical outlier last year, checking the ball down at easily the lowest rate in the NFL – and not surprisingly, Lawrence also attempted the 9th-most deep passes among all QBs to start 10 or more games last year.


So on an offense that just added Calvin Ridley and that has an ascending star QB that pushes the ball downfield at one of the highest rates in the league, how much room realistically is there going to be for simple checkdown passes to running backs? Rookie RB Tank Bigsby has been praised for his ability in the receiving game, and that raises serious questions for Travis Etienne’s receiving upside this season.


Etienne is currently the RB14 off the board, though! Obviously, not all of Etienne’s targets were dump-offs and checkdowns - but those add up to fantasy value if you can get enough of them. Just ask CMC and Austin Ekeler. The bottom line is if Etienne might see a lessened workload on an offense that’s pass-first with a QB that’s coming off a season where he threw the fewest checkdowns in the league – is he going to be able to return on investment?

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