Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the first running off the board in April’s draft, 32nd overall to the Kansas City Chiefs. He had a big season for the national champion LSU Tigers in 2019, with over 1,400 rushing yards, 453 receiving yards (55 receptions) and 17 total touchdowns (16 rushing). Patrick Mahomes hand-picked him, as if the Chiefs weren’t already a prime spot for a running back.
Damien Williams led the Chiefs in rushing last year with 498 yards (on 111 carries), along with 30 receptions. It has always felt like only a matter of time before Edwards-Helaire took the reigns as the lead back. Now that roadblock is completely gone, with Williams’ decision on Wednesday to opt out of the 2020 season.
Edwards-Helaire’s NFL comps start with Brian Westbrook (rooted in the Andy Reid tie to some degree). Maurice Jones-Drew is also a good one, with Barry Sanders at a very high end. Now that he’s the clear No.1 back for the Chiefs, parallels to Kareem Hunt’s 2017 rookie season for the Chiefs are easily drawn. Hunt led the league in rushing as a rookie, with nearly 1,800 total yards and 11 total touchdowns.
Edwards-Helaire was already a second-round pick in PPR leagues, stretching into overhyped/overvlaued territory just outside the top-12 running backs. Fantasy Football Calculator had him in the low-end RB2 range in standard scoring, as a fourth-round pick. Now a majority share of 111 carries and 48 targets from last year awaits Edwards-Helaire.
Edwards-Helaire Now A Surefire Top-10 Fantasy Back?
It’s now natural to push Edwards-Helaire into the top-10 fantasy running backs. The upside is substantial, even without a typical offseason to work.
A push to 1,300 total yards and double-digit total touchdowns is now well in Edward’s Helaire’s sights for 2020, where it was a lower percentage high-end outcome before Williams opted out. I’m not quite projecting 250 touches for CEH, but that’s well within reach too.
I still have some hesitation. But Edwards-Helaire is now not getting out of the first round in PPR league drafts. He’s worthy of a second-round choice in standard leagues, based purely on the unlocked yardage/touchdown upside.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 2020 Projection: 185 carries for 865 yards, 7 TD; 55 receptions for 450 yards, 3 TD