Clyde Edwards Helaire: An obvious RB1
1. With the 32nd pick in the NFL draft the KC Chiefs select LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
2. The fantasy community breaks twitter.
The world champion Chiefs' frustration in the run game during the regular season last year wasn't a problem for them reaching their ultimate goal. With that said, rectifying that RBBC debacle will be part of the solution to sustaining the league's most dangerous offense in 2020.
RB was an important position for Andy Reid in his most successful seasons with the Eagles. Now, with Shady McCoy and Andy Reid parting ways after their 2nd marriage, Kansas City ranks top 10 in vacated volume on the ground across the board. Over 30% of their rushing volume and over 40% of their goal line carries are available from last season. We can't always use vacated volume as an indicator of volume distribution, but in an offense that has just Clyde coming in and also underwhelmed on the ground last season, if anything, we can expect tangible improvements on the RB totals from 2019. And as their 1st round pick, Clyde Edwards-Helaire will command the majority of the work.
Big Red Reid made a larger statement by selecting a RB that early in the draft than he did in the punt, pass, kick competition back in the day... At least for fantasy owners. In the last decade Reid's produced the RB 8 or better in PPR points per game in 8 of 10 seasons. Across his entire coaching career we've seen a top 5 RB in his offense 9 times! Now, the man who's drafted supremely talented backs in the past just spent unprecedented draft capital on Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Don't hate me 'cause I'm popular!
In the pre-draft process we heard nothing but adoration for CEH and surrounding him was a palpable buzz. During the post-draft press conferences we heard beautiful music from GM Brett Veach. He went so far as to liken Clyde to Christian McCaffrey, and more realistically to Brian Westbrook. For the younger audience, Westbrook produced over 20 points per game in PPR during the half decade under Andy Reid in Philly before Shady McCoy was drafted. (Heads up for CEH owners in 5 years!!).
The Chiefs GM referred to Edwards-Helaire as a franchise back and when Veach was asked the million dollar question, is Clyde a bell cow and will he be used in a similar fashion to Jamaal Charles or Kareem Hunt? He said yes and and that in the Chiefs offense specifically, CEH will be able to handle to the load. Going into detail, Chiefs' brass also talked up his interior running ability, plus his change of speed and direction. The lateral movement is off the charts, but Clyde's vision and feel for the game is what stands out most. It was excellent to hear the team go through some of those traits and how they compliment Andy Reid's schemes. With the experience CEH gained in a pro style offense last year and the phenomenal fit in KC, the transition should be seamless to the NFL. For what it's worth, Clyde was one of only four RBs in this draft class to be in on over 65% of his team's snaps in 2019. He also fumbled only once on over 400 touches. Clyde can play the part.
What does Clyde bring and how will he be deployed?
Damien Williams has some fans but lets be real, if not for a couple 80+ yard TD runs, his season would have been even more dreadful. He was already Andy Reid's worst PPG RB in a decade...in a top 5 offense. D-Will can play the RB2 role, and he still brings a house call element to the offense which isn't necessarily Edwards-Helaire's game. Clyde comes to town to do literally everything else. What CEH will offer the offense can be summed up in a word, he'll create.
On top of his pass catching prowess, CEH offers what somebody like Joe Mixon or Josh Jacobs offer. Evaded tackles and broken ankles for defenders. The easiest way we can remove Clyde from the LSU offense to a degree is by creeping his yards after contact numbers. He averaged over 3.5 yards after contact per attempt, and over 50% of his rushing yards during his final season came after contact. He was one of the most elusive backs in CFB last year and in concert with the Chiefs schemes he should be that in the NFL as well.
The worst kept secret and best kept fantasy jewel is how Edwards-Helaire will be unleashed in the passing game. We saw Kareem Hunt excel in that facet in KC, and the Chiefs must see CEH in a similar light. At LSU we saw him used on wheel routes, we saw him adjust to the ball, and his experience running routes from the slot and to move around the formation is very exciting. According to Graham Barfield's Yards Created studies, Edwards-Helaire is 1 of just 3 backs to have run over 30% of his routes from the slot in the last 5 years. One of the others is Christian McCaffrey. That's not to directly compare him to CMC, but it highlights the profile of RB teams are seeking right now and the premium placed on versatility.
The glaring skepticism for Clyde at the next level was regarding how he would look detached from a top offense that provided super valuable touches like LSU did. Well now I guess we'll just never know! Any concerns that he can't transcend a difficult situation can be put to bed. The Chiefs should be the best team in show, they currently have the highest projected win total in the NFL. Furthermore, Clyde should enjoy what we saw with the Tigers, usage in the passing game and, particularly, creative route concepts and high leverage volume through the air and on the ground.
There's only one argument I'd unplug my ears for when debating Edwards-Helaire, and that's the idea that Damien Williams could begin the season as the starter. Contrary to how Williams himself performed last year, it's very hard to fail in a high powered Andy Reid offense. So in year one, not unlike we saw with Shady McCoy's rookie season in Philadelphia, a backfield committee isn't out of the question.
However, if you want to ignore the elite landing spot, running backs selected in the 1st round have a spectacular track record for volume in year one. In the last half decade there have been 9 running backs taken in the first round. 8 of them saw at least 197 touches as a rookie. Rashaad Penny is the Leper. Ultimately, the job should belong to the player with high draft capital. Clyde should be on full showcase by mid-season, just in time for matchups with the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons in the fantasy playoffs.
So, what is Clyde's value?
1.01 in all rookie formats, including Superflex. Joe Burrow is great, but an elite RB is harder to find. When it comes to the Jonathan Taylor scuffle, JT wins the overall talent debate and clearly has an elite run blocking unit in front of him. However, those are both overrated in fantasy football and everything else comes up Clyde. RB talent ranks far lower than people think on the fantasy success totem pole which (unfortunately) helps provide context to why the position is devalued by NFL teams.
Beyond playing in the best offense, for the finest fantasy RB coach, with ace QB play. Besides a terrific scheme fit, having the highest draft capital, elite receiving talent and opportunity. On top of the confluence of situation, CEH has next to no competition for touches as a runner or receiver. I'd contest that Taylor has Marlon Mack as the incumbent who could command the formation of a committee in 2020. Much like we saw from Frank Reich with the Chargers and first round pick Melvin Gordon. Nyheim Hines is also present and has monopolized the RB target share since coming to the Colts. There's less to speculate on for Edwards-Helaire in the long term, whereas Jonathan Taylor's pass catching is entirely speculative as far as volume and career arc. JT needs that work to be in the same fantasy universe as the RB seeing all the work in Kansas City.
For 2020 I have Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the RB 11 on TrueNorthFFB.com. Where I really rock the boat is by having him as my 17th overall player currently. On Fantasy Pros' Expert Consensus Rankings he's 35th overall but in real time drafts CEH is a 2nd or 3rd round pick...
I. Am. In!