Normally you think of fireworks as an early-July thing, but the fantasy football landscape had some glitter and boom on Wednesday. Light up the sky.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire was already one of the buzziest names on the 2020 fantasy football draft board. He was a star at a high-profile college, and a first-round draft choice by the most explosive team in the league. Anyone tied to Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes is already spotted for success, and when you consider the gifts that Edwards-Helaire possesses (especially in the passing game), the mind races and the imagination explodes.
But when KC veteran Damien Williams announced Wednesday that he’s opting out of the 2020 season, the Edwards-Helaire conversation really took off. The initial plan had Williams and Edwards-Helaire sharing the primary work, but Wednesday’s news nixes that. How high of a pick does CEH’s upside command in 2020 fantasy leagues? We have about six weeks to marinate.
Edwards-Helaire was already highly coveted in fantasy circles. His current Yahoo ADP is a lofty 24.6, and he’s been going about three picks earlier in NFFC formats this summer. But that ADP tag is out the window now. CEH is in line to be Kansas City’s featured back (and surely their best pass-catching back), and that means he’ll probably take up residence in the first round of most leagues going forward. I’m just spitballing here, but I’d guess that Yahoo ADP will at least cut in half.
Kansas City has other backs, of course, not that anyone is special. Darrel Williams has a splashy moment now and again. DeAndre Washington came over from Oakland, where he was an ordinary player. Darwin Thompson was mostly a bystander during KC’s championship run.
It’s possible Kansas City will add a veteran, not that the current free-agent pool is enticing. And remember, the team drafted CEH in the first round, at a time when the league is starting to move away from using draft capital on running backs. No one prioritizes this type of rookie back unless he’s prominent in the immediate plans. Reid hasn’t been shy talking Edwards-Helaire up, either.
Ultimately Edwards-Hilaire becomes a bit of a fantasy conundrum for me. I like talented players, too, who doesn’t? I adore Mahomes, I love Reid, I know the KC offense could go to the moon. But none of these obvious things are lost on the rest of the fantasy public. You might have to draft CEH at the top of his range this year — perhaps as early as the middle of the first round — and that’s a tricky way to do business. Buzzy picks are rarely fantasy value plays.
I’m still mulling over my post-Williams rank for Edwards-Hilaire. The placeholder spot is RB9, but I could feel differently in 24 hours. He’s the type of back I’d consider in the late-first round, and eager to snap up in Round 2. But I also realize it’s highly possible the common drafter will be more drawn to this comet than I will be. I can’t help it, I’m a pragmatist and a value-seeker at heart.
Looking at the league more broadly, it’s a tricky moment for fantasy players. There will be more opt-outs to come, of course. The Patriots have already lost a ton of players, albeit not major offensive skill talent. The fantasy star you draft today could be the next player to opt out tomorrow.
If you prefer to draft later in the summer, I can’t blame you. There is no playbook to get us ready for 2020. This crazy year makes up its own rules.
But let’s end the night on a high note. Run those Edwards-Helaire highlights one more time, please.