Baltimore Ravens rookie undrafted free-agent Gus Edwards out of Rutgers has burst onto the NFL scene with back-to-back strong performances in weeks 11 and 12. Edwards rushed for over a 100 yards in both games and is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. He’s sure to be a top waiver wire pickup this week in any of the fantasy leagues that he is still available in. Now that the Ravens have won two games in a row while featuring Edwards at running back, it’s hard to imagine them turning back to Alex Collins when he is healthy enough to play. Edwards might have played himself into a featured running back role on a team that is employing a run-heavy scheme and that historically loves to run the ball in the month of December.
Fantasy Football: Gus “The Bus” Edwards is Rolling
Edwards got his first start this week for the Ravens against the Oakland Raiders after Collins was ruled out with a foot injury. Edwards proceeded to rush for 118 yards on 23 carries in a strong showing versus the Raiders. It was a great way to follow up his performance from last week when he rushed for 115 yards on 17 carries against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Edwards and the Ravens new starting quarterback Lamar Jackson work well in tandem with each other. The Ravens have started running a college style run-option type offense while featuring Jackson and Edwards as the primary weapons. Since the Ravens are winning by running and playing strong defense, I doubt they will stray from this offensive strategy until defenses prove they can stop it.
In this day and age in the NFL most defenses are being built to stop the passing game. The Ravens are exploiting this with this new run-option scheme. I assure you that no defense wants to have the whole offense firing off the ball and blocking them on every play. This is what the Ravens are doing and so far it’s worked well for them. Down after down they’ve been pounding away and are wearing defenses out. The beneficiaries of this new run-heavy scheme are Edwards and Jackson as they pile up the rushing attempts and rushing yards which also happens to be great for fantasy football.
Ride “Gus the Bus” Until the Wheels Fall Off
Edwards is built like a featured back at 6’1” and 238 pounds. This means he should be able to hold up while seeing a heavy workload. While he’s not a freak NFL athlete with off the chart measurables, Edwards does have good speed (ran 4.52 at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine) and burst (10’3” broad jump and 34.5” vertical) for someone his size. He certainly has the tools to be highly effective in a featured running back role where he is seeing high volume.
The only knock on Edwards right now is his lack of passing game usage. This was also one of the weaknesses expressed in his NFL scouting reports during the draft process. However, Edwards has seen heavy usage the past two games taking 40 carries for 233 yards and one touchdown. If he continues to produce like that it’s likely the Ravens will be happy with him and so will his fantasy owners.
If Edwards is available in your league it’s worth doing what you can to get him on your fantasy team. It’s not too often that a 20 carry per game running back suddenly becomes available. However, when one does become available you had better be on that. If you have been saving your waiver priority or FAAB then now is the time to use it. Here are two good reasons to pick Edwards up. First, he’s getting 20 carries per game and could continue to see that kind of volume. That is RB1 type volume. Second, even if you can’t put him in your starting lineup, by having him on your bench you will at least ensure that your opponents can’t use him. Point being, if you can cut someone who isn’t helping your team and likely won’t be able to help you to add Edwards, it’s a good idea to do so.
Some players that I would be willing to drop in redraft leagues for Edwards are Isaiah Crowell, Frank Gore, Mohamed Sanu or Christian Kirk. Any player who isn’t highly productive or seeing regular heavy volume is a reasonable candidate to drop for a potential featured running back like Edwards is. Of course, everybody’s teams and leagues are different so assess your team and make the call on whether or not you can use someone like Edwards. However, if you come to the conclusion that you are in need of a running back for your fantasy team, Christmas might have come early for you in the form of one Gus Edwards. Pick up “Gus the Bus” and ride him until the wheels fall off.