What to expect from Gus Edwards with J.K. Dobbins out for 2021


On Saturday, the Baltimore Ravens offense suffered a crushing blow when standout running back J.K. Dobbins suffered a torn ACL against Washington, an injury that will sideline him all of 2021.

Luckily for Baltimore, the Ravens have one of the NFL's best backup running backs in Gus Edwards, who is likely to have a large role in the offense now with Dobbins out.

With Edwards now the clear lead back, how does his fantasy football value change? NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux and Mike DePrisco discuss.

Ethan's take: After a solid rookie season, Dobbins was the latest running back that was expected to take that coveted Year 2 leap. But in the NFL, it's next man up. And the Ravens have the right guy in Edwards, both in real football and fantasy purposes.

Before the injury, Dobbins ranked in the Tier 3 group of running backs, along with the likes of D'Andre Swift, David Montgomery and Chris Carson. Personally, I felt that Dobbins was going a bit high in drafts. Edwards was always going to still get his fair share of carries regardless, while Lamar Jackson's rushing ability was always going to take away some of Dobbins' potential.

With Dobbins no longer in the picture, though, I feel even more confident about Edwards. Once considered a waiver-wire target, Edwards now has an RB2 floor with borderline RB1 potential. Wherever you felt comfortable taking Dobbins in your drafts prior to injury, that's where you should look to snag Edwards now.

Despite the backfield competition Edwards has faced in his three years in Baltimore, he's still been plenty productive when he gets his opportunity. Consider this stat: Edwards is just one of six running backs that has totaled 700-plus rushing yards in each of the past three seasons. The other five? Ezekiel Elliott, Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara, all bonafide RB1s in fantasy.

With most fantasy football leagues in the PPR format, Edwards won't be able to reach full RB1 status unless he improves in the passing game. But based on the workload he should now get with Dobbins out, he's one of the better RB2 options available.

Mike's take: Even before Dobbins went down, Gus Edwards was a more-than-solid waiver-wire target because of how heavily the Ravens lean on the run. Now? Assuming the Ravens don't bring anyone in better than him, Edwards could be an RB2 or FLEX option every single week. 

Last year, all six of Edwards' touchdowns came within 10 yards of the goal line. He had the same workload in the red zone as Dobbins (25 carries each), and his snap share only increased -- 31.5% inside the 10, 42.9% inside five -- as the Ravens got closer to the end zone. Edwards was Baltimore's goal-line back entering this season, and now he'll seemingly get every carry in those situations that don't go to Jackson. 

The biggest question surrounding Edwards' fantasy value, other than the Ravens signing someone else, is whether he can be impactful in the passing game. He only has 18 catches in three years, which is as many as Dobbins had as a rookie in 2020.

If Edwards can't become a threat as a receiver, it'll incentivize the Ravens to look elsewhere for someone with that skill set who could eventually take a share of the snaps. Edwards should bring some major upside as a touchdown machine at the goal line, but his ceiling will ultimately be determined by his contributions as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

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