Should You Start Either RB Against the Steelers?

The AFC North hasn’t looked the way we might’ve expected at the beginning of the year, but it’s proven to be a competitive division nonetheless. Fantasy football managers are hoping they can squeeze one more big performance from their stars in the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers matchup. The last time they played, Baltimore won 16-14.

Two Ravens playmakers in the spotlight to produce are running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. We’re on top of all angles in this matchup for fantasy managers and bettors alike — let’s dive into whether you should start Dobbins or Edwards against Pittsburgh.

Should You Start J.K. Dobbins vs. the Steelers?

After totaling 245 rushing yards and one touchdown on his first 28 carries upon returning from his knee injury, Dobbins looked ready to blast off against the Atlanta Falcons’ weak defense in Week 16. Dobbins had a letdown game, though, totaling 59 yards on 12 carries while playing on 42% of snaps.

It was the third straight week Dobbins has played 43% of snaps or less. In fact, he’s only played one game all season with 50% of the Ravens’ offensive snaps, meaning he’s a part-time player who has to excel with explosive plays.

Considering he just put up 120 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against Pittsburgh three weeks ago, Dobbins certainly has the upside to be a great part-time player. With this in mind, take part in an Underdog Fantasy Best Ball league and throw Dobbins into your lineup to help separate yourself from the pack!

MORE: Rachaad White and Leonard Fournette Start/Sit Week 17

Dobbins’ explosion against the Steelers was uncharacteristic for Pittsburgh’s defense, as they’re allowing 90 yards and 0.47 touchdowns on the ground this season. Baltimore totaled 215 rushing yards on the day, capping off a bad three-game stretch for the Steelers. But Mike Tomlin’s defense has self-corrected over the last two games, stifling the Panthers and Raiders to a combined 79 yards.

Dobbins is currently ranked as the RB16 in our Week 17 PPR fantasy football rankings. He’s a solid RB2 or Flex option with this ranking. I feel more confident than not that Dobbins will live up to or outperform his ranking.

My prediction is Dobbins ends up between last week’s showing against Atlanta and his outbreak against Pittsburgh. That could look like 80 yards and a rushing touchdown, which is certainly good enough to start. However, the touchdown isn’t a guarantee, so consider your other lineup options if they have a more favorable matchup.

Should You Start Gus Edwards vs. the Steelers?

After taking a backseat to Dobbins in Weeks 14 and 15, Edwards was the hot hand last week against Atlanta. He played in only 40% of snaps but racked up 99 yards on 11 carries. His 37-yard scamper helped make the rest of his day easier to put up numbers.

Averaging an impressive 5.2 yards per carry, Edwards is still a stud as a complementary back. But he’s not a receiving threat at all, with only 18 receptions over four seasons and zero this year. He also hasn’t reached the end zone since Week 12, with all three of his scores coming across two games.

It’s possible that Edwards gets more rushing volume than Dobbins in Week 17, but it’s unlikely, and we can’t predict that outcome based on a blown assignment by Pittsburgh. Dobbins gets more snaps and touches each week, and Edwards isn’t a red-zone threat or receiving option.

I’d opt against starting Edwards against a solid defense at all costs this week.

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