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Making the Case to Draft Clyde Edwards-Helaire

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With the 32nd pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the running back from LSU. The Chiefs bypassed much bigger needs at cornerback, defensive line, and offensive line to secure the most versatile running back in the draft. The rich got richer.

Make sure to check out all of our other Making the Case articles.

During Edwards-Helaire’s last season at LSU, he had 215 carries for 1,414 yards (6.6 yards per attempt) and 16 touchdowns while adding 55 receptions for 453 yards and a touchdown. He was a valuable asset in an explosive offense led by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Edwards-Helaire’s versatility in both the running and passing game proved crucial to LSU winning the National Championship against Clemson last season.

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There was a ton of hype surrounding Edwards-Helaire in the fantasy community shortly after being selected by the Chiefs. Despite Damien Williams still on the roster and coming off an MVP-type Super Bowl performance earlier in the year, it seemed Edwards-Helaire was already pegged as the workhorse running back. It all seemed premature until we received breaking news on Wednesday, July 29.

Wow! The news of Williams opting out of the 2020 season nearly broke the internet. The hype train for Edwards-Helaire being the lead back was in full force! The premature chatter about Edwards-Helaire being a first or second-round draft pick in fantasy football redraft leagues was now plausible.

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After the draft and before Williams opted out, Andy Reid publicly stated he believes Edwards-Helaire is better than his former Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook.

Reid drafted Westbrook in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft and quickly molded him into one of the league’s most dynamic dual-threat running backs from 2003 to 2008. His best season came in 2007 when Westbrook totaled 2,104 yards while scoring 12 touchdowns. For Reid to proclaim that his rookie running back is better than his former Pro Bowl running back should tell you all you need to know about how he and the entire Chiefs organization view CEH.

There has been little consistency in the Chiefs’ backfield ever since they released Kareem Hunt in 2018. Since Hunt’s release, the Chiefs have started Spencer Ware, Williams, and LeSean McCoy. In 2019, McCoy led the backfield with nine starts, followed closely behind by Williams with six. Looking back at Reid’s history with running backs, it was apparent that Reid was desperate for a do-it-all workhorse running back.

Since 2013, Reid has had offensive success operating with workhorse running backs Jamaal Charles and Hunt. His offense excels when he has a do-it-all running back who can catch and block on top of running between the tackles. Selecting Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the draft signaled his desire to get back to giving one running back all the work. All stats are based on a per game basis.

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Name

Games

Attempts

Rush Yards

Rush TD

Rec/Tgts

Rec Yards

Rec TD

FPPG

Jamaal Charles

35

15.3

76.7

0.5

3.7/5.5

32.2

0.4

20.8

Kareem Hunt

27

16.8

79.7

0.6

2.9/3.6

30.9

0.4

19.5

All Other RBs

67

9.5

40.1

0.3

02/02/06

18.1

0.1

10.2

Charcandrick West, Ware, McCoy, and Williams make up the “All Other RBs” section of the chart, all of whom did not have the dual-threat versatility of Charles and Hunt. Edwards-Helaire’s versatility skillset mirrors Reid’s former workhorse running backs, which bodes well for his short-term and long-term value on this team. Reid won’t waste any time integrating his versatile first-round draft pick in the offensive game plan.

Edwards-Helaire is a bonafide RB1 and top-10 pick in redraft leagues. He was already being drafted in the second/third round range before Williams opted out. With Williams gone along with his high draft capital, versatile skill set, and confidence from Reid; there’s no way he should slip past the 10th pick. In PPR leagues, consider taking him right after Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara. He should be the first running back taken in dynasty rookie drafts.

My 2020 projections for Edwards-Helaire: 220 attempts for 1,008 rushing yards, five touchdowns, 72 receptions for 624 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.

Follow Jacob Dunne on Twitter @AintDunneYet

Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images

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