Fantasy War of Words: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (2020 Fantasy Football)
Welcome to our Fantasy War of Words series, in which two of our analysts go head-to-head via email to defend their rankings position on a notable player ahead of the 2020 fantasy football season. In this edition, Kyle Yates and Bobby Sylvester lock horns over their respective rankings of Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kyle has CEH as the No. 11 running back in half-PPR scoring, while Bobby ranks Edwards-Helaire as the RB18.)
Kyle Yates: It has come to my attention that you have Clyde Edwards-Helaire ranked significantly lower than where I do. My understanding is that you have him in your 20s at the RB position, while ECR sits at RB15. I currently have Edwards-Helaire at RB11 and I feel like I may be ranking him at his floor. As of right now, I have CEH projected for a 56 percent RB carry split and a 13 percent overall target share. This equates to 187 carries, 805 rushing yards, and six rushing TDs. Additionally, the target share breakdown equates to 74 targets, 57 receptions, 514 receiving yards, and three receiving TDs.
These honestly feel like moderate projections for the dynamic rookie RB and the Chiefs clearly have a plan for him after investing a first-round NFL draft pick in him. What gives? Why do you have him so low?
Bobby Sylvester: Kyle, you’ll find this funny but my projections also have CEH above his ECR. But for me, rankings and projections are quite different. Sure, it’s true that Cooper Kupp was the No. 4 wide receiver last season, Jason Witten was the No. 12 fantasy tight end and Jared Goff was the No. 13 fantasy quarterback but if you ask anyone if those players helped fantasy teams as much as their final ranking indicates, their answer would surely be no. Kupp was a trainwreck in the second half, Witten was borderline streamable for just a handful of weeks and Goff was extremely volatile.
There is something to be said about the path to production and in CEH’s case, it doesn’t warrant a second-round pick to me. I cannot imagine starting him at any point in the first month because much like Miles Sanders last season (who mind you, finished as the RB15), he probably won’t get more than 15 touches in any game until around mid-season. For example, Sanders was the RB32 through 7 weeks, only scoring over seven half-PPR points once in that time. It got so frustrating for fantasy owners that he was widely available on waiver wires despite a fifth-round re-draft ADP. It seems you believe he will be a bell-cow right away?
KY: That’s a great point regarding the projections/rankings differential. With that being said, I believe that there’s a balance to be found here specifically with CEH. While I’m projecting CEH to receive an average of 11 carries and five targets per game right away, there’s room for him to receive even more than that amount as the coaching staff sees how he adjusts to the NFL.
Damien Williams is his biggest competition for work and CEH is insanely more talented. So, the first few weeks of the season, we could see Williams receive more work, but I believe that will eventually fade away and CEH could see close to 20 touches per game in the most dynamic offense in the NFL. They clearly have a plan for the dynamic RB and I just don’t see a way that he finishes lower than RB18 on the season. He’s the perfect RB2 for your Dynasty roster to pair with one of the top-tier guys and I’m going to be getting him everywhere that I can.
BS: If he does receive a workload that large right away then I’d agree that we are undervaluing him, and frankly, it makes sense from a talent standpoint as you mentioned, but that just isn’t how things tend to work in the NFL. Miles Sanders was far and away the most talented back on the Eagles last year, but wasn’t a main part of the offense until the second half. The same was true of David Johnson, Nick Chubb, Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara and Derrick Henry.
I don’t mind taking an upside player but I just can’t do it with this much risk in the second or third round. I suppose it isn’t so much that I dislike CEH, but I won’t be drafting him over guaranteed workhorses like Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette or Melvin Gordon at running back or low-end WR1s like Adam Thielen, Odell Beckham Jr. or Allen Robinson. It seems you’d prefer CEH over all of them at the 2/3 turn?
KY: Those are great examples to bring up. I would prefer CEH over Gurley due to the injury unknowns. I would prefer CEH to Leonard Fournette because I believe the Jaguars aren’t going to be a dynamic offense in 2020 and Fournette could lose his involvement in the passing game to Chris Thompson. As for Melvin Gordon, we don’t know how much Phillip Lindsay is going to be involved and it’s not going to be anywhere near as high-powered of an offense as the one that they have in Kansas City.
Allen Robinson or OBJ are the only receivers I would be considering at that spot, but it depends on what my draft looked like the first two rounds. This isn’t me saying that I’m drafting CEH literally everywhere I can though, so don’t misunderstand me. I just believe he’s in line for a huge season and is being critically undervalued at this point of the offseason.