What a disappointment.
The best offense in the NFL uses their first-round pick (1.31) on the first and best rookie running back in 2020. What’s not to like?
That’s good enough for a No. 22 finish, but he was drafted around the No. 12 running back selected. He opened the year by rushing for 138 yards on 25 carries versus the Texans (not as impressive as we later discovered). But his production would mostly be mediocre while sitting in the middle of the Chiefs offense. He only rushed in three more touchdowns after Week 1, and his role as a receiver dropped significantly after Week 3.
Drafters were hoping for a monster rookie year as we saw with Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley. Instead, we saw someone stuck between a badly fading David Johnson and the mostly stumbling Miles Sanders. It wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t anything close to a difference-maker. On a Super Bowl team no less.
The chance to reclaim the same luster that saw him tear up the SEC for 1,414 rushing yards and 55 catches for 453 yards and a total of 17 touchdowns on the way to a National Championship in 2019.
Edwards-Helaire opened his career during the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of practices and any preseason games meant the preparation for moving from college to the NFL was less than any other college class ever had. He was hardly alone in a slow start. D’Andre Swift, Cam Akers, and J.K. Dobbins all heated up at the end of their rookie seasons.
Only Jonathan Taylor hit the ground running as a rookie because Marlon Mack disappeared and forced Taylor to be a workhorse behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Plus, Philip Rivers was in his final season of “okay, so maybe I can’t do this anymore.”
The Chiefs’ offensive line was devastated by injuries, which in turn got Patrick Mahomes hurt and unable to hop away from any the Tampa Bay defensive pass rushers. They’ve rebuilt the offensive line in the offseason and should return to elite status.
Edwards-Helaire only managed the one glorious season at LSU, so he’s a bit more raw and yet not as used-up as many other elite rookies. He finally gets a full preseason to prepare this year.
A healthy Patrick Mahomes never hurts. And while Edwards-Helaire was limited to 181 rushes, the next best running back from 2020 is gone in Le’Veon Bell (63-254-2). Darrel Williams is the No. 2 and the undrafted back has never rushed for more than 41 times in his three seasons as backfield depth.
Edwards-Helaire is going around the No. 18 fantasy running back in reception-point leagues. That’s saying that the expectations are that he’ll roughly match his rookie year when he missed three games, had minimal preparation in the preseason, had an offensive line that broke down but has been rebuilt, and had to share with Le’Veon Bell who is now gone.
He deserves a mulligan on a wild 2020 season. Hopefully, on my fantasy team.