2020 NFL Draft: Clyde Edwards-Helaire lands in perfect spot to make a Fantasy impact with Chiefs

The rich got richer at the end of the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, as the Chiefs added LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to an already-stacked offense with the No. 32 pick Thursday night. 

Edwards-Helaire was a trendy match with the Chiefs in pre-draft speculation, and why not? The Chiefs have the best tight end in football, an elite wide receiver and plenty of speed beside him, and … a bunch of undrafted free agents and castoffs in the backfield next to Patrick Mahomes. Now, Mahomes adds a proven playmaker who just contributed to a record-breaking offense in college. He could do the same in the NFL, which should make Fantasy players very excited. 

Edwards-Helaire was a dynamic playmaker at LSU, and that has plenty of value in a Chiefs offense that saw Kareem Hunt lead the NFL in rushing yards as a rookie. However, what should make Fantasy players especially excited with Edwards-Helaire is his skill in the passing game. Edwards-Helaire caught 55 passes for 453 yards, and was just as efficient in the whopping seven games he played against top-10 teams in 2019. 

Edwards has three-down ability, and he lands in an Andy Reid offense that churns out elite Fantasy running backs. We didn’t see that from the Chiefs’ motley crew in 2019, though Damien Williams did tease us by going off for 537 total yards and nine touchdowns in his final five games after getting healthy. Williams had that run and his dominant end to 2018 in Hunt’s place, and he did all that as an undrafted free agent who could barely see the field for the Dolphins. 

Now, the Chiefs have a running back they invested a first-round pick in, with proven three-down skills. Edwards-Helaire didn’t light the Combine on fire, something he shares with Hunt. Something else he shares with Hunt as a prospect? A propensity for making defenders miss — Edwards-Helaire had the most broken tackles among all draft-eligible backs in 2019. 

Edwards-Helaire is joining a crowded running back room, but the collective cap hit of the group before the draft was just over $6 million. I’m sure the Chiefs will make Edwards-Helaire earn the job, but they aren’t pot committed to anyone on the roster, so if he shows up to training camp and impresses, expect him to have a significant role from Day One.

You might note that this all sounds awfully optimistic for a running back who had just 2,103 rushing yards in three seasons, fewer than Jonathan Taylor, a likely second-round pick, had in his sophomore season alone. However, this is as much about the landing spot for Edwards-Helaire as anything else. The Chiefs will find creative ways to get the ball in his hands. He’ll see plenty of targets — including of the downfield variety — and he’ll have a ton of scoring opportunities if the Chiefs trust him at the goal line. 

There’s a chance the Chiefs won’t trust Edwards-Helaire right away, but he really is in a perfect spot to run away with one of the most lucrative running back jobs in the league. The Chiefs have almost nothing invested in any other backs on the roster, and despite looming cap questions around Mahomes’ eventual extension, they opted to go grab a running back in the first round. 

As long as Edwards-Helaire doesn’t trip and fall on his face in the lead up to the season, he should have a significant role on the best offense in football. He should be the first rookie off the board in all redraft leagues, and you can make a compelling case he should be the first pick in all rookie-only drafts, too. 

There might be more impressive running back prospects out there, but guess what? They don’t get to play with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. Edwards-Helaire does, which should make him a contributor as a rookie, worthy of at least a fifth-round pick. And a good camp could push him into the third round pretty easily. 

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