One of fantasy football’s most prized newcomers, Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was routinely drafted atop the list of rookies prior to veteran Damien Williams opting out of the 2020 NFL season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Williams, who will be placed on the season-ending opt-out list after informing the team Wednesday, July 29, of his intentions, was the only rusher standing in the way of the LSU rookie having a stellar first season in the pros.
Now, Kansas City will have two of its better offensive players out of the fray as it attempts to win consecutive Super Bowls. Star right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has chosen to skip the season, too. Not ideal, but the Chiefs will survive. Williams’ decision is more important for the fantasy football value of Edwards-Helaire, of course.
As it stands, Darrel Williams, DeAndre Washington, Darwin Thompson, Elijah McGuire will vie for scraps as the change-up to the versatile rookie. Edwards-Helaire landed 55 passes last season for the Tigers, so as long as he holds up on pass protection, expect him to see three downs of action more often than not. Williams, on the other hand, doesn’t profile as durable or capable in all scenarios as the squatty rook.
Fantasy football outlook
The offense is as explosive as any, stocked with talent among the receivers and at tight end, meaning there certainly will be games in which Edwards-Helaire is asked to be part of the answer and not the solution himself. When Patrick Mahomes is your starting quarterback and Andy Reid is the coach, there’s a strong possibility of an aerial assault any given week.
Looking around the league, there are few other rookies in as good of a situation as Edwards-Helaire, and there’s really no strong argument for another back to be chosen ahead of him from this year’s draft class. Barring an injury or bizarre turn of events, we’re likely looking at the 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year.
With a current average draft placement (ADP) of 2:11 in PPR as the 15th back chosen, on average, Edwards-Helaire is likely to vault into the late first or early second rounds in many leagues. He’s more exciting than Austin Ekeler (12th), more dynamic than Aaron Jones (13th), and surely safer than Todd Gurley (14th), all currently going immediately before him.
It would be a big ask to expect Edwards-Helaire to outperform Josh Jacobs (9th), Nick Chubb (10th) and Miles Sanders (11th). Should CEH end up on your roster, Washington is the most reasonable target for a handcuff of this backfield.