Chase Edmonds’ fantasy outlook and projection for 2021

With reportedly the inside track for the RB1 role, should fantasy managers draft Chase Edmonds at his ADP and fantasy outlook for 2021?

Although no longer the undisputed RB1 many were hoping for, Arizona Cardinals RB Chase Edmonds still enters 2021 with a positive fantasy outlook as a featured back on an explosive offense. As he competes for touches with fellow running backs and one of the best dual-threat QBs, how should fantasy football managers view Edmonds, and should he be considered at his current ADP?

Chase Edmonds’ fantasy outlook for 2021

Early in the offseason, the talk surrounding Edmonds was at an all-time high. He was coming off a solid season where, despite being in a committee, he was the more efficient rusher over Kenyan Drake, averaging 1.12 fantasy points per touch to Drake’s 0.71, ranking fifth overall (min. 100 touches).

A fourth-round pick in 2018, Edmonds accounted for 850 yards from scrimmage in 2020. He rushed 97 times for 448 yards with 1 touchdown and recorded 53 receptions (68 targets) for 402 and 4 more scores.

While Edmonds has had success (RB2 or better in 43% of games in 2020), his lack of snaps stifled his fantasy value. In 2020, he played on 47% of the snaps with 29% of the RB attempts. With Drake leaving in free agency, many hoped that Edmonds would have the backfield to himself. Instead, the Cardinals brought in former Steelers RB James Conner on a one-year contract.

Conner has had success but also a well-documented history of nagging injuries. Since taking over the Steelers’ backfield as the Le’Veon Bell saga played out, Conner averaged 16.6 ppg across his 36 games, finishing as an RB2 or better in 69% of his contests. However, he was inactive for 25% of possible games.

Because of his success, many believe Conner to be the lead dog in Arizona, leaving Edmonds to resume his role as a change-of-pace back and receiving duties (67% of RB targets in 2020). Yet, this might not be the case.

Edmonds has the inside track for starting role

PFN’s NFL Insider Adam Beasley reported on July 7: “The Cardinals’ training camp battle at running back might be a battle in name only.” The expectation is that Edmonds handles the 1A part of the Cardinals’ running back committee. 

If this is the case, Edmonds could be a significant value in fantasy with the seventh-highest amount of gained touches at 239 (49.8%). Furthermore, the Cardinals enter 2021 with 72.4% of the red-zone carries up for grabs. For someone like Edmonds, all he needs is volume, and really, not that much of it. In his 13 career games where he saw 9+ touches, Edmonds has averaged 14.5 points per game.

I don’t expect either RB to be volume monsters. Not only do they have each other to deal with, but they also have Kyler Murray, one of the best dual-threat QBs in the NFL and a lock for 100-plus carries himself. What will be critical for determining the fantasy outlook for both Edmonds and Conner is who gets the lion’s share of the targets and red-zone looks. Drake actually led the NFL in goal-to-go carries last season and had the second-most in carries from inside the five-yard line with 21.

This offense will put up points. If Edmonds were to get a slight bump in carries, he could make his way into the RB2 conversation. However, he is best drafted as an RB3/flex who brings upside to your fantasy lineup.

Fantasy projection

Although the Cardinals did bring in Conner to pair with Edmonds, I don’t think this means they will run more in 2021. If anything, they likely will throw more — the additions of A.J. Green and Rondale Moore should prove more impactful. 

For as pass-happy as we think Kingsbury is, the Cardinals ran the ball on 44% of their plays (479), the seventh-highest percentage in 2020. For comparison, the league average was a 42% rush rate last season. But Arizona’s pace jumped from 11th-quickest in 2019 to No. 2 in 2020. They ran a play every 25.06 seconds, which led to the fourth-highest number of plays run overall (1,083).

Combining the offseason moves and the need to keep up in a loaded NFC West, it’s more likely we see the Cardinals jump in passing volume closer to the 60% range. Moreover, just because they have Conner doesn’t mean Murray will be phased out of the red zone. He saw 24 attempts inside the 20-yard line last season, which he converted into 9 touchdowns. 

As a whole, I am very bullish on the Cardinals’ offense for 2021. I also believe this is Edmonds’ job to lose. Add in the potential factor of Conner missing 2-3 games along the way, and Edmonds is a solid value. My current projections have Edmonds slated for around 180 carries for roughly 810 yards with 5 touchdowns. He could also add 50-55 receptions for 390-400 yards and 4 more scores.

Chase Edmonds’ ADP

According to Sleeper, Edmonds is currently the RB30 with an ADP of 73.7 in PPR formats. In superflex leagues, where quarterbacks have increased value, he has an 83.1 ADP. Similarly, on Fantasy Calculator, Edmonds is the RB28 with a 60.3 ADP. On Underdog Fantasy, a best ball site, he is the RB28 with an ADP of 78.7.

Should you draft Edmonds for fantasy in 2021?

Based on where he is going in drafts, I believe Edmonds is a relatively solid value. He is just past the guys with locked-in roles and is one of the first RBs in that next group filled with more RB2s and committee backs. I have no issue selecting him as my RB3 or flex this season.

The one caveat is that it all comes down to how you build your roster. This part of the draft is loaded with high-upside talents such as Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, D.J. Moore, Tyler Lockett, Ja’Marr Chase, Brandon Aiyuk, Odell Beckham Jr., and even Chase Claypool — all of those players have a higher ceiling. But if you had a receiver-heavy strategy early on, Edmonds is a good fallback plan at RB. 

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