Pickups of the Week: Last call on Lamar Jackson, first call on Gus Edwards

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Lamar Jackson runs wild in win over Cincy

Let’s begin with a quick look at Sunday’s rushing leaders:

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1. Saquon Barkley – 27 carries, 142 yards
2. David Johnson – 25 carries, 137 yards
3. Ezekiel Elliott – 23 carries, 122 yards
4. Lamar Jackson – 27 carries, 117 yards
5. Gus Edwards – 17 carries, 115 yards

We’ll answer the question “Who the heck is Gus Edwards?” in a moment, but first we’d like to direct your attention to Lamar Jackson’s absurd rushing workload.

Prior to Sunday, only one quarterback in the Super Bowl era had carried the ball 20 or more times in a single game (Tim Tebow, back in 2011). Jackson’s stat line from Week 11 was something we just don’t see in the modern NFL. In addition to the 27 rush attempts, he also completed 13 of 19 pass attempts for 150 yards. Jackson had a few misfires, throwing one interception on the afternoon (and nearly another), and his throwing motion isn’t exactly textbook. Watch every carry and pass attempt right here. But the rookie led the Ravens to a comeback win in his first pro start while delivering a useful fantasy performance. He’s essentially a combination of a QB2 and RB2, occupying a single roster spot.

Jackson remains available in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues as of this writing, and he’ll get another friendly home start in the week ahead. Joe Flacco (hip) isn’t likely to return against Oakland. If Jackson remains at the controls of Baltimore’s offense moving forward, he’s a great bet to produce a series of top-10 positional finishes. The Ravens will face four of the NFL’s most generous pass defenses over the next month (Oak, Atl, KC, TB). Jackson is a must-add player heading into the most important weeks on the fantasy calendar. Go get him.

Schedule, next three weeks: Oak, at Atl, at KC

FAAB bid: $26 ($100 budget)

Gus Edwards feasts, out-carries Alex Collins

Edwards is an undrafted rookie from Rutgers, a big-and-tall back (6-foot-1, 238) who never approached 1000 yards in any collegiate season. He dominated the snaps (49) in Baltimore’s backfield on Sunday, carrying 17 times for 115 yards and one score. Edwards is now averaging 5.6 yards per carry for the year, which is 1.3 more than he averaged last season in the Big Ten. Can’t say we saw this breakout coming, but here we are.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh seemed exceedingly happy with Edwards’ performance:

“Gus was north and south, he’s a physical guy. He’s been practicing really well. When those young guys start practicing well for weeks after weeks, we want to get them out there. Then he was playing well on special teams, so it kind of gave an indication that he was ready. He sure took the bull by the horns.”

Jackson is pretty clearly the most gifted runner on Baltimore’s roster, but Edwards seems to have surged ahead of Collins in this team’s backfield hierarchy. Add wherever you need RB or flex assistance. Again, this team’s upcoming schedule is a fantasy gift.

Schedule, next three weeks: Oak, at Atl, at KC

FAAB bid: $22

Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson combined for 232 rushing yards on Sunday, which puts both players on the fantasy radar. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson combined for 232 rushing yards on Sunday, which puts both players on the fantasy radar. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Jameis Winston un-benched after Ryan Fitzpatrick implodes

Fitzpatrick has thrown five interceptions and zero touchdown passes over the past two weeks, so it’s no great surprise that Winston returned to action in Week 11. It’s tough to believe Jameis won’t see the field for the Bucs next Sunday; he completed 12 of 16 throws for 199 yards and two TDs against the Giants. Winston’s profile isn’t so different from Fitzpatrick’s, really — both QBs are recklessly aggressive chuckers. But the pair has combined for 3746 yards and 25 touchdown passes so far, as Tampa Bay leads the league in passing (361.0 YPG). The upcoming matchup with the Niners should yield yet another huge individual performance; San Francisco has allowed 21 TD passes on the season, tied for the fifth highest total in the NFL.

Schedule, next three weeks: SF, Car, NO

FAAB bid: $12

Jalen Richard gets interesting with Doug Martin dinged

Richard handled a season-high 11 carries in Sunday’s win at Arizona, gaining 61 yards on the ground and another 32 as a receiver. Martin was sidelined in the game’s second-half due to an ankle issue of as-yet-unknown severity. If Martin can’t return in Week 12, Richard and DeAndre Washington will split the backfield touches at Baltimore (in a terrible matchup). Richard’s bankable role as a receiver gives him an edge in any sort of PPR format; his 51 receptions rank second among all running backs.

Schedule, next three weeks: at Bal, KC, Pit

FAAB bid: $16

Tre’Quan Smith returns to fantasy relevance

Just one week after Smith’s zero-target performance at Cincinnati, he hauled in 10 balls for 157 yards and one score on 13 chances. His day was loaded with highlights, none more impressive than this 15-yard touchdown catch…

That catch right there is the sort of play that lands a receiver inside his QB’s circle of trust. Smith established new single-game highs in both receptions and receiving yards on Sunday, and it would be a small surprise if he didn’t deliver another solid performance against Atlanta in Week 12. Drew Brees has been an unstoppable terror at home this season (350.8 YPG, 138.9 rating) and the Falcons have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing QBs.

Schedule, next three weeks: Atl, at Dal, at TB

FAAB bid: $12

Keke Coutee is back from injury, doing PPR thingsCoutee led the Texans in receptions (5), targets (9) and receiving yards (77) in Sunday’s win, making his first appearance since October 21. He’s seen at least seven targets in three of his five games so far this year. Houston doesn’t have another stay-away matchup through Week 16, making Coutee a viable pickup in any deep PPR league. Demaryius Thomas was barely a rumor on Sunday, by the way, drawing only one target.

Schedule, next three weeks: Ten, Cle, Ind

FAAB bid: $11

Rookie Keke Coutee led the Texans in receiving yards and targets in his return from injury. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Rookie Keke Coutee led the Texans in receiving yards and targets in his return from injury. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Dallas Cowboys will host Colt McCoy on Thanksgiving

Dallas’ defense currently ranks among the league’s top-10 in total yards allowed (331.1 YPG), scoring (19.0 PPG) and sacks (28), so this group has plenty of fantasy appeal. On Thanksgiving, the Cowboys will host division-leading Washington, a team that just lost quarterback Alex Smith to a brutal leg injury. Veteran backup Colt McCoy will be at the controls of Washington’s offense this week, which makes the Dallas D a priority streaming target. McCoy has thrown nearly as many interceptions (23) as touchdown passes (27) over the course of his career.

Schedule, next three weeks: Was, NO, Phi

FAAB bid: $2

Also recommended: QB Dak Prescott, QB Baker Mayfield, RB Josh Adams, RB DeAndre Washington, RB LeGarrette Blount, RB Theo Riddick, WR Adam Humphries, WR John Ross, WR Courtland Sutton, WR D.J. Moore, TE Jonnu Smith

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