Clyde Edwards-Helaire's Fantasy Outlook
News recently broke that Damien Williams, the leading rusher of last year’s Superbowl Champion, Kansas City Chiefs, will opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to Covid-19 concerns.
Now, it is presumed that first round pick (32nd overall) Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be the lead back in Kansas City with Williams still getting a decent share of the touches.
With Williams now opting out, this leaves just Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams on the roster behind Edwards-Helaire that were on the roster a season ago.
The team did add veterans Elijah McQuire and DeAndre Washington to help fill out their backfield.
If we look at the numbers from a year ago, Williams, who played 11 games, saw 54-percent of offensive snaps during those 11 games.
The Chiefs’ second back during those same 11 games saw 25-percent of the snaps.
Now with Williams opting out, the 54-percent snap figure for the lead back will absorb some of that 25-percent from the second back.
Let’s give 10-percent to the top back, in this scenario Edwards-Helaire, and keep 15-percent for the second back.
This would give Edwards-Helaire 64-percent of the offensive snaps at running back.
The Chiefs ran the ball 23.8 times per game last season. Using the same figures, this would give Edwards-Helaire 15 carriers per game.
Williams’ recorded 4.5 yards-per-carry a season ago. It’s safe to assume that the first running-back selected in the 2020 draft running behind one of the best offensive lines in the game would rush for a similar figure. Even if we bring him closer to four yards-per-carry, he’d run for 60 yards per game, or 960 yards on the season.
Let’s also give Edwards-Helaire six rushing touchdowns on the season, one more than Williams had a season ago.
If we had to pick something to take Edwards-Helaire’s value and production down a notch, it would be that the Chiefs averaged 2.7 yards-per-carry up the middle, worst in the NFL.
Edwards-Helaire averaged 6.7 yards-per-carry up the middle in college.
He excels up the middle but if the Chiefs’ skillset isn’t adequate there, there’s only so much he can do.
In terms of receiving, where Edwards-Helaire caught 55 passes for 453 yards and a touchdown last season with LSU, the Chiefs love to use their runningbacks in the passing game.
Williams averaged 3.3 targets-per-game and 2.7 receptions. Edwards-Helaire is easily a better receiver than Williams.
The Chiefs’ secondary back averaged 1.8 targets-per-game and 1.7 receptions-per-game.
Say Edwards-Helaire catches three passes a game at seven yards-per-reception (Williams’ average in two years with the Chiefs) he would collect 21 receiving-yards-per-game or 336 receiving yards for the season on 48 receptions. Let’s give him two receiving touchdowns.
If we total these projections we came up with in terms of PPR fantasy points, he would finish with 225.6 points, good enough for a RB13 finish a year ago.
Historically speaking, a rookie running back has finished in the top five of fantasy runningbacks in four of the past eight seasons. One also finished in the top 10 of six of the last eight seasons. The two outliers finished 11th (2014) and 15th (2019.)
So although we minimally projected Edwards-Helaire to be around the RB13 range, he will definitely finish in the top 10 of fantasy running backs.
Dare I say it, now without Damien Williams, he can finish as a top five fantasy runningback in 2020.