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Fantasy football player profile: Gus Edwards

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(As fantasy football dives headlong into draft season, some players warrant a little extra attention. All August, Dom Cintorino and Adam Pfeifer will do deep dives into some of the notable names. Follow along with our player profiles series. Today’s profile: Gus Edwards)

(Take advantage of the FTNFantasy Platinum package for the 2021 season!)

Fantasy football value 2021 – Gus Edwards

Very quietly, Gus Edwards has been one of the most efficient running backs in the NFL over the last few seasons. In fact, since entering the league in 2018, Edwards’ 5.2 yards per carry mark ranks second best in all of football and he is coming off another productive 2020 campaign, rushing for 723 yards and six touchdowns on 144 carries. Playing in this Baltimore offense has been very advantageous for running backs and that has certainly been the case with Edwards, who has averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry in all three seasons so far. Of course, Lamar Jackson generates a ton of attention and creates a ton of running lanes for Edwards, who has averaged 2.3 and 2.5 yards before contact per attempt over the last two seasons. And as a whole, the Ravens averaged 2.38 yards before first contact last year, easily the highest mark among all teams. 

Despite never being the featured running back, Edwards has gotten enough work to make an impact in fantasy because of Baltimore’s high-volume rushing attack. The Ravens called run 55% of the time a season ago, which was the highest rate in football, which allowed Edwards to still average nine carries per game. 

And now Edwards is in line for an even larger workload.

We received the unfortunate news over the weekend that Baltimore’s phenomenal young running back J.K. Dobbins suffered a torn ACL, ending his sophomore season before it begins. Dobbins was always going to share carries with Edwards, but down the stretch last season, the Ohio State product was slowly starting to pull away. From Week 13 on, Dobbins outcarried Edwards 63-50, handling 6 carries from inside the 5-yard line to Edwards’ 2. And to start the season, Edwards was getting more of the short-yardage work, and now all that work undoubtedly belongs to him — especially since, despite how much Jackson runs with the football, the Ravens don’t really use him at the goal line like the Cardinals do with Kyler Murray or the Bills do with Josh Allen. In fact, Jackson had just one carry from inside the 5-yard line last year and just five such carries back in 2019. So Edwards is going to be the goal-line back in a good offense that ran the football 66.7% of the time from inside the 5-yard line last season, good for the sixth-highest rate in the league. We only saw Edwards play one game with Dobbins out of the lineup last season and it wasn’t pretty, as he carried the ball nine times for 10 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers’ elite run defense. But keep in mind that Lamar Jackson didn’t play in that game either, changing this entire offense. If you go back to 2019 when Mark Ingram was out of the lineup, however, Edwards started one game, rushing for 130 yards on 21 carries against (you guessed it) the Steelers. And we actually did see a stretch back in 2018 where Edwards was the lead running back for the Ravens. From Week 11 on that season, Edwards averaged 17.4 carries per game, while rushing for 100 yards three times. It is entirely possible that the Ravens bring in a veteran running back (they have been linked to Todd Gurley), but Edwards has proven to this team that he can be a very productive running back. There still remains very little upside as a pass-catcher but Edwards is going to be efficient and has touchdown upside, vaulting him into the low-end RB2 range in fantasy.

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Fantasy football ADP stock watch – Gus Edwards

Looking at Edwards’ ADP now is basically pointless because we know it is going to skyrocket over the next few days. Prior to this weekend, Edwards was being drafted around the RB40 range, but now he will surely climb to top-24 status at the running back position. As far as what round you should expect Edwards to be drafted now, I’d say five in half-PPR leagues and six in full PPR. Edwards was already a player that had standalone value before the Dobbins injury so the floor should be pretty solid over the course of the season. But because his ceiling for receptions is maybe 20, it is extremely unlikely he finishes as a top-12 fantasy running back.

NFL fantasy football ranking – Gus Edwards

After updates were made to FTN’s consensus rankings, Edwards comes in as the RB22 in 0.5 PPR formats. That seems about right to me, and I do believe he now belongs in that tier consisting of Mike Davis, Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs and Kareem Hunt, for instance. Personally, I have Edwards ranked as the RB21 and he certainly belongs anywhere in the 18-25 range now. 

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