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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The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

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The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.


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Julio Jones is trying to force his way out of Atlanta

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The NFL's all-time leader in receiving yardage per game is looking for a new home.

Five time all-pro, Julio Jones, stated on FS1's Undisputed earlier this week that he was "out" of Atlanta and that his only focus on where he wants to play next year includes winning. This corroborates with reports back in April as Ian Rapoport indicated the Falcons were receiving calls for their star receiver prior to the NFL Draft.

It's no surprise that Jones wants out considering the Falcons have only made the playoffs once since their Super Bowl appearance in 2016. Jones is 32 now and coming off a season where nagging injuries kept him off the field for all but nine games in 2020. In those games Jones caught 51 balls for 771 yards while adding three touchdowns. Having only reached double-digit touchdowns once in his career in 2012, the volume and yardage have always been Julio's strengths. A lack of availability would certainly hurt his chances to be a major contributor for any title-contender.

According to SportsLine, the teams with the best odds to land Jones are as follows as of May 28, 2021.

  • Patriots +200
  • 49ers +300
  • Titans +400
  • Raiders +600
  • Ravens +700
  • Chargers +900
  • Colts +1000
  • Packers +1200
  • Dolphins +1400
  • Jaguars +1500
  • Cowboys +2000

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The Nets big 3 are set for a finals run.

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The play-ins have been a short, but wild rollercoaster and the playoffs are getting ready to set off.

The seeds are finally set, and the first-round matchups are 76ers(1) vs Wizards(8), Nets(2) vs Celtics(7), Bucks(3) vs Heat(6), and Knicks(4) vs Hawks(5).



76ers vs Wizards:

The Russell Westbrook-Joel Embiid rivalry will continue during this year's playoffs and fans cannot wait. The Wizards finished the season with a 16-6 record, and after a lackluster start this season, they have made themselves a dangerous 8th seed. While the 76ers didn't finish the season hot, I'm sure with a team-full of veterans, rest was more of a priority. The 76ers beat the Wizards three times during the season, but two of those games were very close and came early in the season.

The Wizards can definitely make this series a challenging one for the 76ers. The Wizards have shooters all around with Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans. But the 76ers have a much deeper team with guys like Danny Green, Seth Curry, and Dwight Howard providing good veteran leadership. The Wizards are riding on the health of Bradley Beal, who has dealt with hamstring tightness in the past two weeks.



Nets vs Celtics:

The Nets finally seem to be healthy just in time for the playoffs, which is dangerous for Boston. Although the Nets big three only played eight games together, the Nets still finished with a 48-24. The Nets also have a great mix of reliable veterans like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jeff Green, and Joe Harris. These two teams meet three times during the regular season with Brooklyn taking all three games.

The Celtics have not lived up to expectations this year. After making a conference finals last year, it was expected to carry through the regular season, but they never found their stride. Jaylen Brown will continue to be sidelined with a broken wrist, so most of the load will be carried by Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. I see this series being an easy one for the Nets.



Bucks vs Heat:

A rematch of the heated second-round matchup last year, where the Heat upset Milwaukee, who had Giannis dealing with injuries. Interestingly enough, both of these come to the playoffs on the right side with an 8-2 record in their last 10 regular-season games. Giannis is back with more weapons on his sides like Jrue Holiday, PJ Tucker, and Jeff Teague, while also keeping their core from last year. Giannis had had another MVP-type season averaging 28 points and 11 rebounds.

The Miami Heat started the season off slow, probably because of the NBA finals hangover, but got hot after the all-star break. Miami also acquired many new weapons like Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon. The Jimmy Butler-Giannis Antetokounmpo matchup will be the most important aspect of this series.

Knicks vs Hawks

After what seems like a lifetime drought, the Knicks are finally back in the playoffs! We can all agree that when the Knicks are good, the league is in better spirits. Tom Thibodeau has turned this team around, and you can't forget about how Julius Randle has been playing this season. Possibly the most improved player, Julius Randle has proved all his doubters wrong and has taken the keys to this Knicks franchise. The Knicks have great veteran leadership with guys like Derrick Rose, and Taj Gibson who are familiar with Thibodeau. They also have great young talent with guys like RJ Barret, and Obi Toppin.

The Hawks on the other hand have turned it around since firing Lloyd Pierce and having Nate McMillan made this team do a complete 180. Trae Young and John Collins are one of the best duos in the league. With guys like Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and Bogdan Bogdanovic who can get hot at any point of the game. This series can definitely go to 7 games, with last-second shots determining the outcome.