Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


The Tape Tells All - Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson's Week 11 Performances

It's a double-header this week! The Baltimore Ravens came out with a really interesting and run heavy offense this weekend, as Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards each rushed for over 100 yards. It was a pretty surprising development.

While there's no guarantee that Joe Flacco won't soon take back over and change things again, Jackson will probably at least earn another start against the Raiders in Week 12.

Let's look at tape from this week's game and figure out how to value the duo in that matchup.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards: The Tape Tells All

Background Information

When the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson this year to be their quarterback of the future, it came with the assumption that it would take a year or two for Jackson to get his passing up to an NFL level. So far, that's been a fairly accurate assessment.

Jackson has been on the field a good amount to run keepers and to create confusion down in the red zone, but he came into Sunday just 7-for-12 as a passer with 87 yards and a touchdown pass late in Baltimore's loss to Carolina. His speed made him an important player to have on the field, but developing him from the Heisman winning, electrifying quarterback he was at Louisville into an NFL quarterback.

Meanwhile, there's undrafted rookie running back Gus Edwards, who'd barely made an impact until Sunday's game, when he rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown after amassing just 64 rushing yards all season before that game. There was something about the Jackson/Edwards pairing that worked perfectly for the run-first offense that the Ravens employed on Sunday, something that worked well enough that the team's established starter, Alex Collins, was virtually erased from the game plan. What was it?


The Game Tape

I'll get to what Jackson can do a passer in a minute, but let's start with the run game. Jackson and Edwards each had over 100 rushing yards, a feat that hasn't happened since Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore did it back when the two were paired in San Francisco. In the pass happy NFL, you don't get a game as run heavy as this one.

But you don't get a runner as dynamic as Jackson every day either.

Here is Jackson's first run of the day. Alex Collins is still in the backfield at this point as the team hasn't switched to the Edwards/Jackson pairing. It's a good run to set the scene for the Ravens. Jackson fakes the inside give to Collins, which freezes the Bengals defense long enough for Jackson to get some open space on the left side and run for the first down.

Normally, I post a lot of GIFs here, but I want to take things more holistically this week. Below is the video of all of Jackson's runs and passes. Below that will be video of all of Gus Edwards' runs.

So, with Jackson -- there are two ways that a Lamar Jackson run goes. One way is with these option plays, where he can either keep it or hand it to the running back. I'll talk more about that in the Edwards part below, specifically when it comes to how having the two on the field creates confusion.

But the other is when Jackson either scrambles or runs a draw play. With 11:00 minutes left in the first, Jackson gets the snap in the gun on third and four. With an empty backfield, this play reads as an obvious pass play to the defense with most quarterbacks, and Cincinnati defends it that way, as all the linebackers go out in coverage. That leaves the middle of the field open since there's not a spy there, and Jackson quickly recognizes that, pulls the ball down, and runs for the first down.

With five minutes to go in the first, the Ravens go with an empty set and then motion Alex Collins back into the backfield. But that's just another layer of misdirection, and this ends up being a designed pass play for Jackson, who rolls out to the right. But when there's not an open receiver on that side, he tucks it in and runs for another first down.

As for Jackson as a passer, it was a mixed bag. There's a play with about 3:20 left in the first where Jackson uses his legs to avoid a sack and extend the play, but he winds up tossing a ball that gets knocked down by a Bengals linebacker and almost picked. Whereas some other young quarterbacks -- Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes -- maybe take a play like that and use the extra time as an excuse/reason to throw it deep, Jackson isn't yet there with this offense.

Jackson makes a lot of safe passes behind the first down marker, checking down to Nick Boyle, throwing short to Willie Snead, etc. These safe plays are good because there's a low chance that he turns the ball over while also it forces the defense to do more than just defend against the run.

With about 6:50 to go in the second, Jackson does another good job of escaping pressure and extending the play, just to ultimately throw it deep and incomplete to Michael Crabtree. Jackson needs to improve his ball placement still, though he's got the arm strength already.

There's a really good play at the end of the first half, where Jackson once again buys a ton of time before finding John Brown on a long play to get the Ravens in field goal range. Jackson holds the ball so long that the Bengals defense ends up losing track of Brown, who is open over the middle.

Finally, let's talk about his interception, because it shows the downside of holding the ball too long. Jackson has a fairly open Nick Boyle on a play that probably nets you four or five yards. Instead, he keeps it longer, and when he does throw it that direction, Boyle has reached where the defenders are, turning an easy short play into a turnover. It's a bad decision by Jackson, and one that he'll have to move past if he wants to be effective. Don't throw to tight ends in tight coverage when your tight ends aren't that good.

Okay, on to Gus Edwards:

Every run for Edwards comes out of either the pistol or the shotgun, and he takes them right into the heart of the Bengals defense. Ordinarily, a running back who essentially runs the same play over and over -- hand-off on a slight delay from the quarterback and then runs right into the defense -- winds up failing at some point, and there were a few times in the fourth quarter where Edwards was stopped almost immediately.

But as long as Lamar Jackson is there and as long as the Ravens are running these delayed hand-offs with a quarterback who is highly capable of pulling the ball down and running, there will be a lighter defensive front for the opposing team as they devote energy to guarding against Jackson on the outside. It's almost like you have two players occupying the role of one player here -- Edwards for inside runs, Jackson for outside runs, and by putting that one player in two separate bodies you demand that the defense split up how they defend that player. So the linebackers can't collapse towards the line to defend against an Edwards run, because Jackson can keep it and go outside. You can't blitz from the edges as much, because he can hand it to Edwards and the middle of field is likely to be softer. It's a catch-22 for the Bengals defense here as they have to pick their poison. On Sunday, though, both poisons piled up the yardage.

I want to talk specifically real quick about Edwards' touchdown run, starting at 1:29 in the video. You get another layer of misdirection here by running Willie Snead across the formation pre-snap, because you create another running lane (or, I guess, a passing lane since one of those forward flipping jet sweeps is technically a passing play. So what you do is here is force the defense to defend all three areas of the field where a run play can go -- against Jackson heading left, Snead heading right, and Edwards going up the middle. That opens up lanes for all three players, and Edwards takes advantage with the touchdown run.


The Fantasy Impact

So, again -- everything hinges on Jackson actually being the starter against the Raiders in Week 12.

If he is, the Ravens face a pretty bad Raiders defense. Oakland has allowed more rushing yards to running backs than any other team this season and it's gotten worse since the bye week. While Jackson's run-first play from Week 11 likely isn't sustainable without a little more threat as a thrower, the Raiders are an incredibly good matchup -- a team that hemorrhages yards to running backs and is essentially facing an offense with two running backs in the backfield.

Jackson seeing 15 or more carries wouldn't be a shock at all, and neither would him taking to the air a little more. Meanwhile, Edwards feels like more of a risk to me, especially if the Ravens use Ty Montgomery more out of the backfield to provide another receiving option.

But think about how effective this offensive scheme was this week, and about how bad the Raiders defense has been. Why not run things mostly the same, with a few variations thrown in? That leaves Edwards as the lead back again (and also has him taking more of Alex Collins' carries, as Collins doesn't quite fit this style of play as well as Baltimore would like), and puts another strong game in his sights.

Jackson would be a good bye week replacement for Patrick Mahomes or Jared Goff, while Edwards has flex value in standard scoring leagues. There's risk with both, especially if Oakland can figure out a way to stop this rushing attack...but let's be real here: no one is confident the Raiders can actually do that.

More Fantasy Football Analysis

More Recent Articles


Week 11 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis

Welcome back to Mexico City. Last season, the Chiefs were supposed to take on the Rams in this game before field conditions moved the game to Los Angeles. Even though the game was moved, the fantasy output was amazing as both teams scored over 50 points and there was not an unhappy fan among us.... Read More

Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 11 Marlon Mack has been diagnosed with a broken hand and may be out several weeks. Emmanuel Sanders (ribs)... Read More

Week 12 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

This could be the most exciting installment of waiver wire adds in a while. Not that any of these choices are necessarily league-winners but at least we have a bunch of new names to ponder. Bye weeks are nearly over but this one will be particularly tough with the high-scoring Chiefs, Vikings, Chargers, and Cardinals... Read More

Waiver Wire Express - Week 12 Lightning Round

We're onto Week 12, which means the last of the bye weeks approaches. The Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs and Vikings hit the hammocks as we can finally start to look at players without worrying about future offweeks. To help you look towards those precious playoff weeks, here is the waiver wire lightning round heading into Week... Read More

Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 12

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered the planning process for Week 12. Some of you are concentrating on building lineups that will commandeer a spot in the fantasy playoffs, while others are making slight adjustments to teams that have already secured their place in the postseason.... Read More

Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 12

Week 11 is behind us and we're getting closer and closer to the end of the fantasy regular season. For some of us, Week 12 represents the final chance to get into the postseason, while for others we have another week or two left. Here, to help you get ready for the playoffs, is a... Read More

Week 12 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

With fantasy football leagues only a couple weeks away from their playoffs, this is not the time for teams to be short a tight end. Not only do fantasy footballers have no Travis Kelce or Hunter Henry during this crucial week in their fantasy seasons, they do not get to take advantage of using a... Read More

Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 12

We saw some monster weeks at the quarterbacks position, with four quarterbacks topping 37 points, and ten scoring over 25 points. These weren't all big names putting up these points either, as low-owned quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and even Jeff Driskel had some big numbers in Week 11. That means we've got plenty... Read More

Week 11 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More

NFL Matchup Ratings Tool - Weekly Player Projections

  If you see the red "Upgrade" button below, then you are not a Premium subscriber, or have not yet logged in. Learn more about our NFL Matchup Ratings and projections system. Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of... Read More

Week 11 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 11... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More

Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 11

Welcome to our Week 11 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More

Wide Receiver / Cornerback Matchups To Target in Week 11

In Week 10, the Buccaneers defeated the Cardinals in a game that featured a whopping 57 points scored between the two teams. Christian Kirk was expected to exploit the Buccaneers weak secondary, and he exceeded all expectations by catching three touchdowns, finishing as the No. 1 wide receiver on the week. On the other side... Read More

Holiday Shopping - Who To Buy For The Playoffs Run

As the fantasy football season nears the home stretch, most owners should begin turning their eyes towards the remaining six weeks of the fantasy schedule. Either you're comfortably in the playoffs and need to see who you should be rostering in order to get the best matchups or you need that extra boost to qualify... Read More

Updated Week 11 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 11 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 11 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: Emmanuel Sanders is officially active. George Kittle (ankle, knee) has officially been ruled out. Matt Breida will not play in Week 11. Jay Ajayi was signed by the... Read More