Running back Chase Edmonds has become a valuable contributor to the Arizona Cardinals’ backfield since his rookie season in 2018. He’s played with former Arizona running backs David Johnson and Kenyan Drake. Now, he has an opportunity to have the spotlight squarely on him. Will Edmonds see enough opportunities to be prioritized in fantasy football drafts?
Chase Edmonds vs. James Conner
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury has spent the last two seasons surrounding franchise quarterback Kyler Murray with offensive weapons. This includes receivers DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, and Christian Kirk. Following the loss of Kenyan Drake to the Raiders this offseason, Kingsbury added James Conner to form a new RB tandem in Arizona.
Conner’s statistical body of work with the Steelers
Since 2018, Conner has averaged 18 opportunities (rushing attempts plus targets), 87 total yards, and 16.6 PPR fantasy points per game in 36 active games. He also averaged a solid 4.3 yards per carry and is a capable receiver out of the backfield.
Since 2018, Conner has recorded 4.2 targets and 3.4 receptions per game. The only thing holding him back has been his health. In each of the last three seasons, Conner has missed 3+ games due to injuries. It would be shocking for the Cardinals to deploy him as a bell-cow running back. I also don’t see Kingsbury riding the hot hand like he did last season. It will be a committee, but Edmonds is my choice for a high percentage of the opportunities.
Don’t underestimate Edmonds
Edmonds was drafted in Round 4 of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Fordham University. He closed out his career as the Patriot League all-time leading rusher and has the fifth-most rushing yards (5,862) in NCAA FCS history.
The Cardinals’ running back only played 25% of the offensive snaps from 2018 to 2019. During the 2019 season, with Johnson available only on an emergency basis due to a tender ankle, Edmonds filled the void against the Giants, rushing for a career-high 126 yards and 3 touchdowns on 27 attempts. Additionally, he caught 2 of 4 targets for 24 yards.
In 2020, Edmonds shared the backfield with Drake after Arizona traded Johnson to Houston. Yet, he was still able to prosper in a complementary role.
Edmonds averaged 6 rushing attempts and 4.2 targets per game. He excelled as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 53 of 68 targets. Edmonds thrived in the Cardinals’ uptempo offense, earning 1.02 fantasy points per opportunity. He finished third in total rushing yards behind Murray and Drake with 448 yards and 4 touchdowns.
The Cardinals have 239 rushing attempts and 156 targets available entering the 2021 season. It is worth mentioning that Conner signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract — an indication that Edmonds is the future and PFN’s very own NFL Insider Adam Beasley dropped this bombshell in his Five At 5 column earlier this summer.
“A source tells us that the Cardinals’ training camp battle at running back might be a battle in name only. Rather, [Chase] Edmonds is the favorite to be the team’s featured back after splitting time with Kenyan Drake in 2020.”
With this in mind, Edmonds is in a position to set career highs in multiple statistical areas and outperform his average draft position (ADP) in fantasy.
Should you draft Chase Edmonds for fantasy in 2021?
Yes. Edmonds is a solid RB2 for your fantasy football team with upside for more. The Cardinals have a steadily improving offensive line, a progressive play-caller in Kingsbury, and a dual-threat quarterback in Murray. As a result, Arizona has one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL.
According to Fleaflicker’s ADP, Edmonds is the RB27 with an ADP of 61. Don’t hesitate to draft him.
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