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Clyde Edwards-Helaire - Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight

Prior to the 2020 NFL Draft, most analysts and fantasy football fans were dying to see if the Kansas City Chiefs would take a running back. In a class with plenty of talent and depth, I wasn't expecting Clyde Edwards-Helaire to go as high as he did. Sure enough, the Chiefs and Andy Reid saw just how versatile the running back out of LSU is and they pulled the trigger on him with the last pick of the first round.

At 5'7" and 207 pounds, Edwards-Helaire is a bit undersized but is built very solid for his size. He finished his senior year at LSU with 215 carries for 1,414 yards on the ground with 17 total touchdowns and 6.6 YPC. In the passing game, he caught 55 of 58 targets for 453 receiving yards. His 16 rushing touchdowns were good enough to lead the SEC in that category. In a huge game against Alabama, he put up 180 yards and four touchdowns. In another game against Arizona, he took just six carries and turned them into 188 rushing yards.

Let's look at the rookie profile for Clyde Edwards-Helaire heading into the 2020 NFL season.

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Team: Clyde Edwards-Helaire
College: LSU
Height/Weight: 5'7", 207 lb
NFL Draft Selection: 1st Round, 32nd Overall


Scouting Report

When it comes to evaluating rookies, I stick to watching film. If you hadn't heard of Edwards-Helaire before LSU took down Clemson, there's a chance you probably don't like him as much as you should. Edwards-Helaire is quite easily the best pass-catching running back in this class. The upside that he brings in fantasy football in the passing game gives him a safe enough floor to lock him in as at least a top-24 running back for 2020 and beyond. Landing in Kansas City is a dream scenario come true for fantasy football purposes.

Edwards-Helaire is a decent runner between the tackles. He's got great contact balance and on film he looks very explosive, despite what his Combine numbers might say. He's also got some strength in his game and isn't afraid to put his head down and push the pile. One trait that is elite of his is his lateral agility. Edwards-Helaire makes quick cuts and doesn't lose a bit of his speed while doing so. He doesn't have the breakaway, home run type of speed, but he's fully capable on the ground and through the air. He catches the ball very naturally and what's really going to give him a safe floor for fantasy football is his ability in the passing game.


The Opportunity

In 2019, there were 11 teams who averaged less than 100 rushing yards per game, and the Chiefs were one of them. We've all see just how popular and productive running backs can be when they're on this explosive offense led by Patrick Mahomes. We've seen names like Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, and Damien Williams over the past few years, and the Chiefs finally have a running back that looks to be talented enough to really run away with the starting role in Kansas City.

The lead rusher last year for the Chiefs was Damien Williams who totaled 498 yards on 111 attempts. 189 of his yards came in Weeks 16 and 17, and most leagues don't even play into Week 17. LeSean McCoy had 465 rushing yards on 101 carries last year and was active in 13 games. Needless to say, the Chiefs had a very underwhelming rushing game and they've been in desperate need of a talented running back to take over this backfield. Williams has shown promise at times, but was more a product of the offense he has been in.

Edwards-Helaire will come into the 2020 season with a chance to immediately see the field and produce fantasy numbers. Even if Williams splits with him this year, I'm confident that with his skill set and the way it fits into this Chiefs offense, Edwards-Helaire will run away with the starting role. If you haven't read up on Andy Reid's comments about him, you should. Reid has openly talked about viewing Edwards-Helaire as one of his former running backs and future Hall of Famer, Brian Westbrook:

“Those kind of players like Brian, Brian is one of those future Hall of Fame players that could do everything for you, even though they weren’t the biggest guys, he just knew how to play the game. That’s how we felt about this kid. He just knows how to play the game. He can block for you. He can run routes. He’s got tremendous vision and lateral abilities with cuts and route running, all those things."

These are big words coming from your head coach, especially after they used their first-round draft pick on him, despite big names like Jonathan Taylor and D'Andre Swift still available. Our Pierre Camus dug deeper into this comparison shortly after the NFL Draft, drawing comparison to former running backs Westbrook and MJD.

Player Ht. Wt. 40 time Draft Pick NCAA Rush/G NCAA Rec/G NFL  Rush/G NFL Rec/G
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 5'7" 209 4.60 1.32 12.89* 2.3* ? ?
Brian Westbrook 5'10" 203 4.57 3.91 11.4 3.7 11.4 3.7
Maurice Jones-Drew 5'7" 210 4.39 2.60 13.3 1.7 14.7 2.7

Edwards-Helaire will split some time with Williams at first, but I fully expect him to take over this backfield. Given his upside in the passing game in this high-powered offense, he'll have a safe floor and could very well catch 60 or more passes this year. If Edwards-Helaire gets the rushing attempts as well, he easily has RB1 upside for fantasy purposes.


Fantasy Outlook

Dynasty Rookie Drafts

If you're a fan of dynasty football, you've probably got a rookie draft coming up or already have completed it. Edwards-Helaire has been going as the first or second player off the board in just about all formats, even in Superflex or 2QB leagues. Jonathan Taylor has been in play as the potential first overall running back as well, but more often than not it's been Edwards-Helaire from what I've seen.

The long-term upside that he brings is excellent, and with his PPR upside, he'll at the very least have a very safe floor moving forward. If the Chiefs utilize him as the workhorse running back, he could end up being as valuable as a guy like Alvin Kamara is for fantasy purposes.

Redraft Leagues

It wasn't too long ago that we saw Kareem Hunt quickly turn into a second-round draft pick or even first-rounder in some redraft leagues as a rookie. Hunt was a nice prospect, but the biggest appeal there was landing in the Chiefs offense with an excellent opportunity ahead of him. Edwards-Helaire is a much more exciting prospect and with his specialty being in the passing game, he'll easily have the upside that we saw out of Hunt when he led the Chiefs backfield.

Expect Edwards-Helaire's ADP to continue to rise as the 2020 NFL season rolls around. At this rate, he may very well end up being over-drafted, but it's hard not to buy in. Between the talent and the perfect situation, this is exactly what we as fantasy owners like to see. Don't be surprised when he ends up being damn near a first-round draft pick in your redraft leagues in 2020.

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