Entering the final weekend of preseason action, all we really want to see from a Fantasy Football perspective is for everyone to get through it healthy. Unfortunately for the Ravens, that didn't happen this year, as running back J.K. Dobbins suffered a knee injury against Washington Saturday.
Dobbins had to be carried off the field and carted to the locker room after getting hit low on a screen pass, and early indications are that the injury will cost him a significant amount of time, if not the whole season. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that going into Dobbins' Sunday MRI, the injury was expected to in fact be a season-ender.
Which makes drafting Dobbins a real risk this weekend. He was a third-round pick in most drafts prior to the injury, but you obviously can't take him there now. He should still be drafted unless we find out for sure this is a long-term injury, but I can't say I would take him inside of the first 140 right now. Once you get past that point, you're talking about relatively low hit rates for most picks, and few of them have the kind of upside that Dobbins would if he is able to come back from this injury relatively quickly.
Dobbins' backup, Gus Edwards, should be going well ahead of him at this point. I think that goes without saying, so the real question is how early Edwards should be going. First, let's establish what the baseline expectation would be for Edwards if he was going into the season as the No. 1 back with Dobbins out for good. In that instance, Dobbins would rank 28th at running back for me -- Dobbins was RB21 before the injury for me, and I don't expect Edwards to be as good on a per-carry basis or to have as many catches as Dobbins would have.
Obviously, Edwards would still be in a pretty good spot in a high-volume rushing attack with plenty of goal-line opportunities. However, the lack of realistic passing game upside means there will always be a relatively low ceiling for Edwards' fantasy value. Edwards could rush for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns and still end up in the RB20 range in per-game scoring if he doesn't have much of a receiving role, as expected.
And I'm not convinced Edwards would just replace Dobbins' workload in the offense. The Ravens want to use multiple backs -- along with Lamar Jackson, naturally -- so I would expect Justice Hill, Ty'Son Williams, or even a back not currently not on the roster to have a solid role. Probably not enough to be much more than a bench option for Fantasy, but enough to probably keep Edwards under 15 carries per game.
Which is all to say, you should be careful not to push Edwards too far up your draft boards in reaction to this news. I would put him in the same range as Damien Harris if he was the projected full-time starter, but until we get some clarity as to Dobbins availability, I wouldn't be willing to take him until the eighth-ninth round.
Hopefully we'll get some news in the coming hours or days saying Dobbins avoided a serious injury, but right now we're stuck in the awkward in-between zone where we don't have enough information to make an informed decision. Edwards could have a bigger role as a result of this injury, but don't push him too high in your rankings just yet, because he may not be a must-start player even if he does get that kind of role.