By Chris Molina
Clyde Edwards-Helaire can be a top-five running back in PPR leagues next year. Am I the conductor of his hype train the day after him getting drafted? Yes. Do I care? No. The Kansas City Chiefs drafted him with the 32nd pick of the 2020 NFL draft. In draft class that included D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, JK Dobbins, Cam Akers, and Zack Moss, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (“CEH”) was the only running back to be selected in the first round. Last season CEH had 1,414 rushing yards, 55 receptions, 453 receiving yards, and 17 touchdowns for the LSU Tigers. He is joining a Kansas City Chiefs squad that gave the RB position 307 rush attempts and 87 receptions totaling 1,283 rushing yards, 626 receiving yards, and 17 touchdowns. Such numbers from one running back would have been good for the RB-2 in a PPR league. So, who are these stud running backs who amassed this total? There were five: Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, Old-Man Shady McCoy, and Spencer Ware. Can you see why the Chiefs used their only 1st round pick on CEH? He is now the most talented running back on the Chiefs roster.
People could say that Clyde Edwards-Helaire will only be in a timeshare with Damien Williams and any other RB that Kansas City pulls from the BBQ-line. Let’s say they’re right and Clyde Edwards-Helaire only gets 60% of the Chiefs market share for the RB position. That would have been 184 rush attempts and 50 completions last season. Old-man McCoy and Damien Williams averaged 4.5 and 4.6 yards per attempt. If CEH would have averaged 4.7 yards per attempt, despite averaging 6.6 yards per attempt in this previous season at LSU, he would have 865 yards rushing. And at 7 yards per reception, CEH would have had 350 yards receiving. Now give him 8 of the 17 touchdowns. That puts him at 219 fantasy points in a PPR league, 12 points shy of being a top-ten RB.
And that’s just his floor. CEH’s ceiling is the roof. Damien Williams was undrafted. Darrel Williams was undrafted. Darwin Thompson was a sixth-round pick. LeSean McCoy is 76 years old and will likely not return. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a first-round pick! Andy Reid loves to have a clear RB1. It would be tough to believe the Chiefs would spend that kind of capital on an RB and not give him 75%+ of the RB market-share of touches, especially since they won a Super Bowl with that rag tag group of running backs. A 75% market share of RB touches would have net CEH 230 rush attempts and 62 receptions. A still modest 4.7 yards per attempt, and 7 yards per reception, would have landed him 1,082 rushing yards and 414 receiving yards. Give him 10 touchdowns here, and he would have been the RB6 — and this isn’t even his highest ceiling.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a force to be reckoned with at LSU. Yes, LSU had likely the most dominant college football season of all time, however, now CEH gets to go from Joe Burrow and a dominant college offense, to Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl Champs. The Chiefs pass less but target the RB position way more than Burrow did at LSU. The Chiefs used a first-round pick on CEH. They had other needs. Andy Reid is their head coach and he has a long track record of a clear RB1. Therefore, it is safe to assume Edwards-Helaire’s potential will be closer to his ceiling described above, than his floor. His floor is still high enough to warrant the 1.01 in Dynasty Drafts and a 2nd round pick in redraft leagues. If you can get him for lower, then thank the individual(s) for not hopping on the Edwards-Helaire express. Top-5 RB next year. All Aboard!