Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins' season is likely over after just one game, as he exited Week 1 with what head coach John Harbaugh confirmed was a ruptured Achilles. Dobbins caught a pass inside the 10-yard line in the third quarter and went down at the 2-yard line. However, as he was tackled, he suffered an injury and required help to get off the field and then to the locker room. And that's how Dobbins' season will end.
That comes at an especially bad time for Dobbins, who tried to get a contract extension from the Ravens before the season and will now head into free agency while recovering from one of the toughest injuries a running back can suffer. It puts Dobbins in a very difficult spot with free agency looming, and also obviously has huge ramifications for the Ravens offense in 2023.
And the problem is, it's not clear there will be one back the Ravens lean on in Dobbins' absence. Justice Hill was the immediate beneficiary of Dobbins' injury, scoring two touchdowns Sunday, but I'm not sure that means Hill is going to be the lead back moving forward. He scored one of those touchdowns the play after Dobbins' injury, and then Gus Edwards started the next drive, with Hill only coming into the game again when the Ravens were down near the goal line – he scored from 2 yards out again.
That kind of usage in high-value areas of the field is promising if he can keep it, but it's not like the Ravens turned to him as a bell cow from that point on. After his second touchdown, Hill had exactly one career on each of the Ravens' final four drives, while Edwards had six, including starting each of the final three drives.
Which makes sense, as Hill is a smaller back who has historically been used as a change-of-pace back, with only one game in three prior NFL seasons with even 10 carries – 10 is his career high, by the way. Edwards has been a very efficient runner in the Ravens offense, including at times as a lead rusher, with 11 games of 15 carries or more. I'd expect Edwards to be the No. 1 back moving forward, despite Hill's two scores Sunday.
That could push Edwards in the low-end RB2 range. In those 11 games with 15 or more carries, Edwards has rushed for an average of 87.5 yards per game, which is impressive, though it has also come with just 12.6 PPR points per game, because he has just six catches in those games. Because he doesn't factor into the passing game, Edwards wouldn't be a must-start Fantasy option even if you could project double-digit carries for him moving forward.
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And I'm not 100% convinced we should project double-digit carries for Edwards anyway. This will likely be a legitimate committee, and both Edwards and Hill should be added in most leagues. It should be a very good offense, especially for running backs, but they'll likely take a hot hand approach to things, and Edwards will need to find the end zone to be worth starting most weeks – which is where Hill getting the two short touchdowns this week especially hurts.
And, of course, there are still free agents like Leonard Fournette or Kareem Hunt lingering out there who the Ravens could bring in – or, even Melvin Gordon, who is on the team's practice squad and already knows the offense. Gordon especially would be a pretty underwhelming option, as the 30-year-old was pretty much useless for Fantasy last season despite having an opportunity to start for the Broncos for several weeks after Javonte Williams' injury. He ended up signing with the Chiefs but didn't appear in any of the team's final six games or their playoff run. He's probably too washed up to matter, but if he's on the active roster next week, he could just add to the confusion in the backfield.
Heading into Week 2, Edwards and Hill probably look like the top waiver-wire targets at running back, but neither should be viewed as someone you break the bank for. I would guess I'll rank Edwards in the 35-ish range for Week 2, with Hill more like an RB4 in PPR scoring. It's possible new offensive coordinator Todd Monken will be willing to use one of them as the kind of workhorse back the Ravens haven't had in a long time, but I'd be surprised if that was the case. You won't find a replacement for Dobbins' upside here, unfortunately.