Fantasy: Edwards-Helaire's stock booming after Williams opts out
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Damien Williams wasn't the first player to opt out of the 2020 NFL season, but his decision was the first to send shock waves across the fantasy landscape.

Let's take a look at how the Kansas City Chiefs' backfield will be impacted with Williams sitting out, complete with updated projections for each back.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Rk Fantasy Pts Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Tgt Rec. Rec. Yds Rec. TD
RB7 275.46 229 1124 9 69 51 399 3

Edwards-Helaire is now poised for a massive debut season as a first-round pick in an explosive offense with limited competition for touches. That's not to say the rookie won't share some of the workload with his veteran teammates, but he'll now enter Week 1 as Kansas City's unquestioned lead back.

As shown in the tweet below from Ian Hartitz of Pro Football Focus, Andy Reid's starting running back has delivered a top-12 fantasy result in 13 of the last 16 seasons.

It's also hard not to draw the connection between Kareem Hunt's breakout campaign as a rookie runner in 2017 and the opportunity that awaits Edwards-Helaire this year. After all, the plan was for Hunt to share touches in Year 1, but a preseason injury to teammate Spencer Ware opened the door for him to ultimately lead the league with 1,327 rushing yards.

Edwards-Helaire possesses similar upside. The LSU product is a three-down back who can grind out yards on the ground while also excelling as a pass-catcher. His new coaching staff will look to take advantage of his skills as a route-runner, which led multiple members of the Chiefs' front office to compare him with Brian Westbrook - Reid suggested his new rusher might turn out to be even better.

The only thing that might prevent the 21-year-old from challenging for a spot among the top five fantasy backs is the Chiefs' low-volume rushing attack. Kansas City hasn't had more than 400 rushing attempts in either of Patrick Mahomes' two seasons as starter - ranking 24th in 2018 and 27th in 2019. Don't take that as a reason to shy away from CEH, just don't think he'll overtake some of the established names near the top of the RB ranks ... at least not yet.

Prior to Wednesday's news, the rookie was being selected in the third round of July best ball drafts as the RB14. If the last 24 hours are any indication, Edwards-Helaire will move into the first round and his ADP could rise as high as RB6 in the coming weeks.

The excitement is well deserved and his star won't be dimmed even if the team elects to bring in a free agent. At this point in their professional lives, Devonta Freeman and Lamar Miller would merely be depth pieces.

DeAndre Washington

Rk Fantasy Pts Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Tgt Rec. Rec. Yds Rec. TD
RB66 71.58 55 221 2 23 18 131 1

As long as the Chiefs roll with their current depth chart, Washington is a sneaky winner since he'll slide into the No. 2 spot as Edwards-Helaire's immediate backup. Given his experience, he's also best suited to take over if CEH misses time at any point in the year.

Washington was underrated during his four-year stint with the Raiders, and averaged 111 yards from scrimmage during three December starts when Josh Jacobs was sidelined. He's a capable pass-catcher as well, hauling in 16 receptions during that small stretch.

Unless Kansas City takes a chance on one of the older runners left on the market, Washington is the handcuff to own in this backfield and should be on your list of late-round players to stash.

Darwin Thompson

Rk Fantasy Pts Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Tgt Rec. Rec. Yds Rec. TD
RB81 33.15 12 46 1 12 10 68 1

Any hope Thompson would be a significant weapon in the Chiefs' offense went away when the franchise selected Edwards-Helaire. Even if injuries strike, it's unlikely the former sixth-rounder would receive a sizeable workload after he failed to step up when the team was dealing with ailments and searching for a spark in 2019. He'll provide depth and would only see a bump in targets if Edwards-Helaire gets hurt. Thompson remains off the fantasy radar for now and is nothing more than a deep stash in dynasty leagues.

Darrel Williams

Rk Fantasy Pts Rush Att. Rush Yds Rush TD Tgt Rec. Rec. Yds Rec. TD
RB92 18.86 16 55 1 6 4 30 0

Though he's flashed with a couple big plays, Williams is an average talent who would - at best - form half of a committee if asked to start. As the biggest of the Chiefs' backs at 224 pounds, Darrel might earn a goal-line carry or two, especially in games where the team is coasting to victory in the fourth quarter. Like Thompson, he's only worth consideration as a deep stash in dynasty formats.

Fantasy: Edwards-Helaire's stock booming after Williams opts out
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