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Fantasy Football: J.K. Dobbins injury puts Gus Edwards in RB2 range

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Another big-name running back is out for the 2021 NFL season before it truly begins. J.K. Dobbins will miss the entire season after an MRI on Sunday confirmed he suffered a torn ACL, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

Dobbins had to be carted off the field when his knee hyperextended after being tackled on a screen pass from Lamar Jackson. It happened in the Baltimore Ravens' preseason finale against the Washington Football Team on Saturday.

Dobbins has been going in the third round of Yahoo Fantasy drafts with an ADP of 27.9. He looked to build on an impressive rookie season that saw him finish with 805 rushing yards and nine touchdowns while averaging 6.0 yards per rush.

Gus Edwards is the clear favorite to take the lion's share of carries in the Ravens' run-heavy offense. Justice Hill and undrafted second-year man Ty'Son Williams, who has impressed in preseason, are also candidates for increased work.

Gus Edwards moves up to the RB2 range

Our analysts have updated their overall and running back rankings in the aftermath of the news, and reveal how they view the Baltimore backfield going forward.

Scott Pianowski: My preliminary Gus Edwards rerank is RB20. He's obviously a freshly minted starter on a team expected to contend for the playoffs. We like stuff like that. But there's probably no receiving upside here, and a lot of Baltimore's rushing production will stay routed through quarterback Lamar Jackson. And certainly, there will be some work for another back, perhaps Justice Hill or someone else on the roster, or even a player acquired through trade or waivers.

Edwards is a shiny new toy now, and I suspect the draft market might overcorrect on this. I'm not opposed to him of course, but he's not a must-have player for me either.

Baltimore Ravens running back coach Craig Ver Steeg, left, talks with running backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins during an NFL football practice, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Owings Mills, Md.(AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gus Edwards will see the majority of the work in what will likely be a committee with J.K. Dobbins expected to miss the entire season with a knee injury.(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Andy Behrens: If you're drafting today, you need to consider Edwards the head of one of the NFL's most productive, high-volume committees. He's not quite a Dobbins-level talent, but he's been good enough to average 5.2 yards per carry over three seasons. We can't expect him to take over the full backfield workload, however, because that's not how the Ravens roll. Justice Hill and/or Ty'Son Williams will be involved to some meaningful extent, and the team will no doubt kick the tires on veteran free agents and camp cuts. Baltimore has never fed targets to Edwards, so don't expect much PPR appeal here. I've slotted him into the Damien Harris range on my board, at RB23.

Liz Loza: While 2021 appears lost for Dobbins, it’s important to remember that he is an exceptionally tough and durable player. After all, he started 40 of the 42 games in which he played at Ohio State and never missed a contest in three years. While he’s mounting what is sure to be an exceptional 2022 comeback, Gus Edwards figures to man the backfield in Baltimore.

Beloved by his teammates (I remember Tony Jefferson talking him up while we were on a shoot together back in 2018) and valued by the front office, the “Bus” was signed to a two-year, $10M contract extension this past June. H led the Ravens RBs in carries last year, accounting for 144 of the 360 total rush attempts recorded by Baltimore’s backs. In line for 15-18 carries per game in the wake of Dobbins' injury, he’s now a top-20 fantasy option. Justice Hill figures to work on passing downs. Keep an eye on Ty’Son Williams as well, who played on the Ravens’ practice squad last year. He’s had an impressive camp and could end up just behind Edwards as the RB2.

Matt Harmon: In the wake of this awful J.K. Dobbins news, Gus Edwards moved up more than 10 spots in my running back rankings. Edwards was an underrated pick in fantasy prior to this news because, not only was he headed for a decent workload but he's played extremely well when called upon. So much so that the Ravens rewarded him with a two-year $10 million contract. That's far from nothing at the running back position. Some of Edwards' 5.2 yards per carry average is due to playing in the Ravens' unique rushing offense but it demonstrates his ability to make good on opportunity. And he's about to get a whole lot more of that. Edwards falls into the Rounds 5-6 range of running backs and has a much higher touchdown ceiling than some of his cohorts there but a much less appealing receiving profile. Justice Hill and Ty'Son Williams enter the dart throw territory later in drafts.

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