Chase Edmonds may get a chance to lead the Cardinals backfield in 2021 if Kenyan Drake doesn't return

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Even though it feels like the football season just ended, the NFL Draft is next month, and if you're like me you're looking for a chance at redemption in your fantasy football league in 2021.

The trend in the NFL for more teams to lean on a pass heavy offensive attack has allowed for many fantasy managers to view top tier receivers as equally valuable assets as the top running backs available. This is good for opening up options in the first few rounds of drafts; but it places an increased importance on either hitting on your first RB taken, or finding some value later in drafts if you decide to go against the traditional strategy of coming out of the first four rounds with two starting running backs.

If you're someone looking to have a bounce back year in your fantasy league or just feel like being a maverick and switching up strategies, it's never too early to start your fantasy football league research. Let's take a look at a few backs that are trending up for 2021.


J.K. Dobbins Baltimore Ravens

This shouldn't be a surprise, and I must admit this is an obvious one. But it would be remiss of me to not lead off with Dobbins on this list. Unless the Ravens bring in competition either through the draft or free agency, Dobbins looks to have a clear path to being the lead back for the team in 2021.

Mark Ingram was released by Baltimore in January following a disappointing 2020 campaign which really served as a roadblock for Dobbins for the first half of his rookie season. Still with the team is Gus Edwards, who has been a solid backup in his three years with the team, and it's been rumored that he may be a target for an extension at some point before his contract expires at the end of the 2021 season.

We shouldn't expect to see the Ravens add any significant talent at that position, as we saw Dobbins excel down the stretch once given the opportunity to start. The biggest obstacle for Dobbins from a fantasy perspective moving forward will be consistency. In an offense that has Lamar Jackson at the helm, you never know when Lamar will take control of the rushing attack himself leaving scraps for his running backs.

Either way, you shouldn't be letting Dobbins slip past the second round in drafts this year. Baltimore should be adding some help at wide receiver this year in an effort to try to keep him in the pocket more. This should also translate to a more traditional rushing attack which will help the bottom line for J.K. Dobbins.

Ezekiel Elliott Dallas Cowboys

Doesn't it seem like Zeke has been around for a decade and it's right about that time for a bell cow running back's body to be breaking down? That must explain his down 2020 season, right?

Elliott did post a career-low 979 rushing yards last year, but the injury to Dak Prescott effectively disabled the entire Dallas offense. Also Zeke is only 25 years old; that's right: 25. Obviously running backs, especially ones that take on a workload like Elliott, have a shorter shelf life than most other position players based on the hits they're taking. But if other managers in your league want to let Zeke slip into the second, or even THIRD, round of drafts this summer please be the one to take advantage of that.

Believe me, it will happen.

It is important that either Dak Prescott returns next season or the team is able to bring in a viable replacement at QB. But Zeke just needs a little bit better play than what he got from Andy Dalton and Ben DiNucci last season to be better. Sure, we have seen guys take big dips in the prime of their careers in the past, but Elliott doesn't seem like a candidate to be one of those guys.

He comes with pedigree, a track record, and the Cowboys' offense is very good with Dak Prescott at QB. I would feel pretty comfortable with Elliott at the back end of the first round, but don't be surprised if you can target him into the early third round of drafts for 2021.

Chase Edmonds Arizona Cardinals

Remember all the hype surrounding Kenyan Drake before fantasy drafts last year? A do-it-all back in Kliff Kingsbury's high flying system with Kyler Murray under center to draw defenses attention to defending the pass. It worked out pretty well. Drake finished the 2020 season with 1,092 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. But Drake is a free agent, and up to this point hasn't worked out a new deal to return to the desert in 2021.

That would leave Chase Edmonds as the next man up for the Cards. In 2019 he broke out for a huge game against the Giants, rushing for 126 yards and three touchdowns. Last year Edmonds continued to serve as a solid backup and five double digit fantasy point games in a reserve role.

The prophecy of Arizona being a fantasy promised land for running backs appears to be true, and if that continues to be the case into 2021, then Edmonds could be THE steal of fantasy drafts this summer. This is also a contract year for Edmonds, so if he's given the opportunity to perform in a starting role this year, you're going to get the most out of him if he's on your squad.

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Booms

Kyle Anderson Forward Memphis Grizzlies

The former UCLA star might have taken the tale of the tortoise and the hare a little too seriously, but the "slow and steady" mantra has given him a successful NBA career and impressive fantasy numbers. For the past week, Slow Mo has averaged 16.3 points on 48.9 percent shooting, seven rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.3 made threes, two steals and one turnover a game.

Anderson has been a consistent contributor throughout the season and it's tough to see his numbers take a hit even when Jaren Jackson Jr. returns at the end of the month. If you haven't rostered him yet, it would be a huge mistake.

Jalen McDaniels Forward/Center Charlotte Hornets

Staying on the court has been a problem for McDaniels this season, but the absence of Gordon Hayward has forced the Hornets to look for other options on the court and the second-year player has been one of the beneficiaries. In the last three games, the San Diego State product averaged 16.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting, two made threes, five rebounds and 3.3 assists. He even threw in 1.3 steals and one block per game.

Hayward is expected to be out for at least three more weeks. Until he's back, expect McDaniels to continue his more proactive approach on this team.

Miles Bridges Forward Charlotte Hornets

McDaniels isn't the only one who has taken advantage of Hayward's injury. Bridges has cranked his game up a notch, averaging 21.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting, three made threes, six rebounds and one steal in the last three games. He may have even had the dunk of the year, posterizing Clint Capela on Sunday.

Until Hayward is back, Bridges will get a lot more freedom to operate and that means more fantasy contribution in the coming weeks.

Reggie Jackson Guard Los Angeles Clippers

Depth has not been a problem for the Clippers the last few seasons, but it has been trouble for fantasy managers looking for consistent contributors on that team. Rest and injuries haven't slowed the Clippers' winning ways this week because Reggie Jackson stepped up for them and gives fantasy participants a short-term high performer to lean on for the week.

In a week where Patrick Beverley, Rajon Rondo and Paul George missed time, Jackson thrived, averaging 17.3 points on 61 percent shooting, three made threes, 4.8 assists, and 1.3 turnovers in four games.

With Beverley out with a fractured hand and Rondo/George/Kawhi undoubtedly taking games off to save themselves for the playoffs, Jackson may not be a bad desperation option in standard fantasy and worth tracking in daily fantasy formats.

Busts

Tim Hardwaway Jr Guard/Forward Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks' recent success has not translated into numbers for all players. Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of them.

The Michigan product averaged 12 points on 37.5 percent shooting, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in four games last week. He did make two three-pointers per game in that span, but that is like threading a silver lining on a used rag.

Hardaway is still the third scoring option on the team, so he will get more chances to increase his production, but this week was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of fantasy managers.

Derrick Rose Guard New York Knicks

Rose has found a home with the New York Knicks, but his role has not been kind to fantasy managers. We all know the former MVP can still score, but head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't asked him to do much else.

In the last four games, Rose has averaged 14.3 points on 43.1 percent shooting, 0.8 made threes, 1.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. That kind of one-dimensional play is a killer of many fantasy teams looking for a more diverse portfolio of contributions.

If you need a boost in scoring, Rose isn't a terrible option to consider, but if you need anything else, you should leave him on the waiver.

Lou Williams Guard Atlanta Hawks

Like Rose, Williams isn't asked to do anything other than score at this point in his career. But even in the past week, he can't even do that at an elite fantasy level. Only averaging 11.8 points per game, 1.8 made threes, 2.8 assists and basically non-existent in every other category in fantasy sports.

It's safe to say that Lemon Pepper Lou's effectiveness as a fantasy star is gone.

Jusuf Nurkic Center Portland Trail Blazers

Okay, I know Trail Blazers have been trying to ease Nurkic back into the lineup and giving him restricted minutes. However, with the fantasy managers looking for that final push to the postseason, there might have to be an executive decision on whether Nurkic needs to be played or pitched.

Teams firmly in playoff position can hold out for him to be used properly again, but other managers won't be able to stomach another week of missed games and low-end production.

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