The regular season is just days away from kicking off, and fantasy football drafts around the league are taking place. Nailing your early-round picks sets a safe baseline for your roster, but building a true championship contender is all about finding the diamonds in the late rounds. Gus Edwards is essentially going undrafted, yet he’s currently ahead of Justice Hill on the Ravens official depth chart. Smart fantasy owners are going to pass on Hill to take a late-round flier on Gus Edwards.
Fantasy Football: Draft Gus Edwards Over Justice Hill
The Baltimore Ravens are going to run the ball at a ridiculous rate in 2019. Lamar Jackson is a fantastic athlete with great playmaking abilities, but he’s not a dropback passer. Instead of trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, Baltimore has adapted to Jackson’s strengths. The Ravens are all-in on being a run-first offense and should lead the league in carries. Head coach John Harbaugh said he wants to revolutionize the run game, and all Baltimore’s offseason moves suggest he’s telling the truth.
The Ravens are committed to running the ball, and they should do it well with new offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Roman is one of the best running minds in the league, as he always gets the best out of his rushing attack. Roman turned Frank Gore into one of the best fantasy running backs from 2011 to 2014 and did the same for LeSean McCoy in 2015 and 2016.
These players were obviously talented in their own right, but Roman’s scheme allowed for easier rushing lanes and higher production. Gore’s four-year stretch with Roman was the best of his career, as the then-49ers running back recorded over 1,100 yards in each season. While McCoy’s best years came with Philadelphia, the running back still managed to average over 1,000 rushing yards a season under Roman. Roman brings out the best in his running backs, and that’s good news for everyone in the backfield.
Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill
The biggest reason people are forgetting about Gus Edwards is that the Ravens invested a relatively large contract in Mark Ingram and a fourth-round pick in Justice Hill. Ingram figures to be the feature back in the offense, as his combination of salary and experience makes him the obvious favorite to start. Hill’s draft pedigree makes people assume that he’s the first man off the bench.
However, the rookie has not yet usurped Gus Edwards on the depth chart. Edwards has a proven track record in this offense and will get work when Mark Ingram needs a breather. Last year, Edwards recorded 654 yards and two touchdowns in seven games with Lamar Jackson under center. While he didn’t find the endzone on a consistent basis, his 5.36 yards-per-carry made him one of the more effective backs in fantasy. He didn’t catch the ball that often, but Lamar Jackson also didn’t throw the ball that often. Anyone looking for pass-catching upside should target a different backfield.
Even if Edwards is coming off the bench, Baltimore’s high-volume rushing attack ensures he should be a viable fantasy option. Last year, Ravens running backs averaged 150 rushing yards per game with Jackson running the offense. Mark Ingram won’t take that entire workload, meaning that Edwards could get 10 carries a game. This is more than enough to be a flex play in a deep league, and certainly justifies a bench spot.
Additionally, Mark Ingram is entering his age-30 season and could be near the end of the line. Running backs age quickly, and most tend to fall off a cliff right around their 30th birthday. If Ingram gets old overnight, or if Sean Payton made him look better than he was, Edwards is a must-own in your fantasy league. Edwards is currently free and should see a role in arguably the best fantasy football backfield in the league. Take a late-round flier so you don’t have to worry about claiming him on waivers after Week One.
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