I have a set of rules that I go by when deciding which players classify as a priority dynasty buy, and which players don't--regardless of league format:
1) The player is in a situation that isn't allotting them much or any usage
2) The player has the talent to produce almost immediately if given more opportunities
3) The player has yet to show anything close to their ceiling
These three rules help highlight talented young players who, for whatever reason, just aren't seeing the field much, but if they did, they could make a significant impact. These three rules define Bryan Edwards' current situation with the Raiders.
Born in Conway, South Carolina, Edwards has been showcasing his talents since his teenage days at Conway High School. In his high school career, he earned 188 receptions, 2,562 receiving yards (13.6 yards/rec), and a whopping 32 touchdowns. 17.0% of his receptions in high school resulted in a touchdown. That's pretty good, and it was good enough to make him the No. 3 prospect in South Carolina in 2015, as well as the 44th overall wideout and 217th-best prospect in the country per 247Sports' composite rankings. Entering his freshman year at the University of South Carolina, Edwards was listed at 6-foot-3, 208 lbs, so he already had the physique to make an immediate impact. During his career as a Gamecock, Edwards earned 234 receptions, 3,045 receiving yards (13.0 yards/rec) and 22 touchdowns. He earned 75 or more receiving yards in 33.3% (16/48) of the games he played in and earned double digit receptions in just one of those games--his second-to-last career game as a college player where he earned 14 receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown. In short, Edwards is an efficient wide receiver in regards to his production per touch. He doesn't need a lot of looks to have a big day and that ability will only improve as he garners more experience and confidence.
The Raiders liked what they saw enough to draft Edwards 81st overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Edwards did not participate in the 2020 NFL Combine due to a broken foot that he suffered while preparing for the combine. He also missed the final few games of his senior season due to a knee injury, so there were some setbacks that likely contributed to his draft stock slipping. Nonetheless, back in 2015, Edwards recorded a 4.53 40-yard-dash time and 37.7 inch vertical jump. Both these marks are around the averages for wide receivers, with his vertical jump being slightly above average, highlighting his contested catch potential.
However, as aforementioned, Edward's does have an injury history and it's arguably the biggest concern surrounding his future outlook. In 2015, he tore his meniscus in his right knee, ending his high school career early. He managed to fully recover by the Spring before his freshman year at South Carolina. In his freshman year, he suffered a hamstring injury in a loss to Kentucky but the injury didn't result in him missing much time that season. It was revealed in the Spring before his sophomore season that he had played through the hamstring injury suffered in his freshman year and that he was also dealing with a sports hernia that he suffered towards the end of the season. These are a lot of soft tissue injuries, but fortunately Edwards managed to complete his sophomore and junior seasons with no significant injury related setbacks. In his senior season, as aforementioned, he suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee. So far in his first NFL season, Edwards has missed about six weeks due to an ankle injury suffered in a Week 3 loss to the Patriots. In all, Edwards has suffered injuries allover his body dating back to his high school days and while that's usually an ominous sign, the fact that he did not suffer any recurrences of the same injury points towards the possibility of better health in the future.
As a wide receiver, Edwards is a big-bodied, physical player. Entering his first NFL season, Edwards weighed in at 212 lbs and remained 6-foot-3. He plays physically at the point of the catch and especially after the catch. Per Pro Football Focus, both his 7.6 yards after the catch and 15 forced missed tackles marks ranked inside the top 45 among wide receivers in 2019. When Edwards has the ball in his hands, he is not easy to bring down. He does not possess blazing speed, but he's fast and physical enough to make guys miss in the open field, highlighting his big-play ability. As a route-runner, Edwards isn't top tier, but he is able to create just enough separation on short or intermediate routes. It helps that Edwards has demonstrated the ability to make catches with a defender draped all over him. So while his route-running is somewhat limited, he makes up for it with the ability to make contested catches. Per Pro Football Focus, he dropped just 4.0% of his catchable targets in 2019. In short, Edwards is not a blazer who'll make big play after big play downfield. Rather he is a compact, physical receiver who'll grab those short slants or dig routes almost every time. If he manages to create enough separation, he can make defenders miss after the catch, potentially turning what should be a short gain into a large gain.
Allen Robinson (6-foot-2, 220 lbs) or Michael Thomas (6-foot-3, 212 lbs) are receivers that can be compared to Bryan Edwards. Both those receivers do not possess elite speed, but rather they use their physique, strong hands, and athleticism to produce. These types of receivers have the upside to be a WR1 regardless of a team's QB situation because all they need is the ball in their vicinity and they'll make a play on it. And seeing how successful Thomas and Robinson have been as fantasy players should only help your intrigue in Edwards grow.
So far in his NFL career, Edwards has seen 12 targets, catching 8 of them for 131 receiving yards (16.4 yards/rec). He's seen over 40% of offensive snaps three times so far, all coming in his first three games of the season before his ankle injury. In those first three games, he earned 6 targets and 5 receptions for 99 receiving yards. Since returning from injury, it appears the Raiders are limiting his usage, maybe to simply keep him fresh and healthy given his injury history. Whatever the reason is for his limited usage, Edwards is an elite talent who is not being used much and has not had a his breakout game yet. If someone were to look at Edwards' stat line with zero context or understanding of who he is as a player, they would not be impressed. There are fantasy owners out there who have Edwards rostered but don't fully understand the upside they have. All these reasons help emphasize why Bryan Edwards is a priority dynasty buy.
Surprise 2020 producer Nelson Agholor is an unrestricted free agent in 2021, so his contract likely won't be extended despite his efficient production this season. Currently injured Tyrell Williams is signed through 2022 but given the fact that Edwards and Henry Ruggs III are being considered key pieces for the future of the Raiders offense, it is likely the Raiders see that they have very little need for Williams moving forward. Zay Jones is also an unrestricted free agent in 2021 and while they could extend him just for the depth, it isn't hard to foresee the Raiders parting ways with him as well. If all these situations come into fruition, assuming the Raiders don't draft any high-end wide receivers in the 2021 NFL Draft, that leaves Henry Ruggs III as their WR1 and Bryan Edwards as their WR2, with Hunter Renfrow situated as their slot receiver.
At that point, Edwards' fantasy price would be that of a WR2/3, or maybe better. This is why today is the time to buy Edwards, for his value will never be lower.
If the stars remain aligned for Edwards perceived 2021 usage, he has the talent to be a top-30, or better, wide receiver in 2021 and going forward. In dynasty, it is paramount that you are actively searching to acquire players who are talented but don't have a direct path to opportunities as of today, and Bryan Edwards' situation fits that description perfectly. Every owner will value Edwards differently, so go see how the Edwards owner in your league values him, and if it's less than he probably should, jump on it. Edwards has the talent and ideal future team situation to be an annual top fantasy producer for years to come. Every year, some new talent emerges and some old talent appears to take a step back. Take advantage of Bryan Edwards current value; he is one of the best dynasty buys in fantasy right now and you'll look like a genius of you buy him for the low today. Building a lasting dynasty requires patience and execution, and securing a discounted Bryan Edwards is just one of the ways you can ensure you're on a direct path to competing on an annual basis.
In this piece, I broke down why Bryan Edwards is a priority dynasty buy. Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know! You can find me on Twitter @FantasyCentral1
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Thank you for reading and God bless.