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Gus Edwards (RB, BAL) - 2019 Fantasy Football Sleeper

In 2019, the expectations are high for the Baltimore Ravens as they finished 2018 with 2,441 rushing yards, which was good for second in the league. Averaged out, this came to just over 150 rushing yards per game. This is very impressive considering the backfield seemed to be in constant flux, and Lamar Jackson did not take over as the starting quarterback until Week 11.

In 2018, the Ravens backfield consisted of Gus Edwards, Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon, Javorius Allen, and a minimal sprinkling of Ty Montgomery after a trade deadline deal. Dixon and Allen had very minor roles in the rushing attack with 60 and 41 carries, respectively. Meanwhile, Edwards and Collins carried the ball 137 and 114 times, respectively. These numbers, of course, do not include the 147 rushing attempts registered by Lamar Jackson, which led all Ravens runners.

Gus Edwards led the team in rushing in 2018 with 718 rushing yards. He returns to the backfield in 2019, but with newly acquired free-agent, Mark Ingram ahead of him on the depth chart, and fourth-round draft selection Justice Hill nipping at his heels. This obviously will bring down the value of Edwards, who took over lead-back duties in week 11 and averaged 5.5 yards per carry from weeks 11 through 17. With Ingram seemingly the lead-back in 2019, can Gus Edwards still provide real value (aside from handcuff duties) to fantasy football rosters? A look into his advanced metrics will give us that answer.

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Get on the Gus Bus?

Advanced metrics tell us Edwards did exceptionally well in a couple of areas, and also performed pretty well in some others. One area where he performed exceptionally well is his positive run rate. Edwards gained positive yards on 92.7% of his carries, which placed him in the top two percent of the league. That is very impressive for a rookie back that did not take his first snap until Week 6. This means that he gained positive yards on roughly 127 of his 137 carries.

He also touched the ball 12.6 times per game (17.5 times per game from Weeks 11-17), which was good for 48.4% of the Raven's snaps in 2018.  This placed him in the top 21% of the league as far as snap percentage is concerned. This is telling because it shows the Ravens had a lot of faith in the young back in 2018 and isn't something that should be overlooked heading into 2019.

Edwards performed admirably when it comes to average yards after contact. He averaged 2.6 yards after contact in 2018, which placed him in the top 46% of the league. This number likely contributes significantly to his ability to consistently rack up positive yards on his carries. He also garnered an eight percent broken tackle rate, which was just outside the top 50% of the league. If he can improve on his broken tackle rate, one would expect to see his positive run rate as well as his average yards after contact increase, which would certainly increase his fantasy value in 2019.

Edwards does have some drawbacks as well. In 2018, he caught a total of two passes on two targets, which means he is not a factor in the Ravens passing game. He also was not a major red-zone threat as he was only handed the ball twice inside the five-yard line. Aside from these drawbacks, he also has to contend with newly acquired running back, Mark Ingram, and rookie sensation, Justice Hill.

Currently, Edwards is being drafted around ADP 194, which puts him just outside of standard 12-team drafts. He should probably be going just inside this ADP, because he may only be an injury away from taking over lead back duties, depending on what Justice Hill's role becomes after camp breaks. Finding a running back this late in drafts with the ability to produce is difficult. Draft him as a late-round flier, and if it does not pan out, you haven't invested so much that you can't cut him loose for a better option later.

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