The fantasy football community can be unforgiving.
A player wrongs them just once, and that player spends the entire offseason sliding down draft boards, being blamed for costing fantasy managers a championship the previous year. Reasons for failure are irrelevant. Fantasy owners don’t want excuses, they want results. But those who truly understand the X’s and O’s of football know better and, as savvy fantasy owners, are ready to pounce on top players at discounted prices.
When Damien Williams opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, the fantasy masses took Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and bum-rushed him into the first round. Articles citing how Andy Reid’s system churns out top-tier fantasy running backs littered the internet, and when the coach put Edwards-Helaire’s name in the same sentence as Brian Westbrook, the price tag skyrocketed. Edwards-Helaire became a mid-to-late first round staple, and some even were so bold as to draft him in the top-five overall.
Edwards-Helaire had a fantastic Week 1 debut, but the rest of the season was considered a bust. He barely topped 800 rushing yards, fell short of 300 receiving yards and totaled just five touchdowns on the year. Everything about him, from his size to his role in the offense, came into question. As we head into the 2021 season, he is nothing more than a late-second round afterthought to those who missed out on this year’s top-tier running backs. As a fantasy player, you should be using this to your advantage.
In 2020, there was no training camp, there were no offseason workouts, and time spent with coaches and teammates was extremely limited. Do we not remember how underutilized the rookies were early on? Cam Akers, J.K. Dobbins and D’Andre Swift barely touched the ball through the first several games. All three turned it up late in the season, but Edwards-Helaire, who endured a full workload from Day 1, was beat up and he faded down the stretch. He learned one of the most complex offenses and did everything he could to succeed under the worst of conditions. Are you sure you don’t want to give him a pass?
Edwards-Helaire has now spent the entire offseason working under the tutelage of Andy Reid and the Chiefs’ coaching staff. He was a full participant in offseason workouts, OTAs and even voluntary mini-camp. His conditioning is better, his knowledge of the game has increased, and he is ready for action.
Don’t let him slip too far in drafts. His 2021 production could very well exceed 2020 expectations.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.
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