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Le’Veon Bell Joins Chiefs, Giving Clyde Edwards-Helaire a Potential Fantasy Football Headache




Le’Veon Bell wasted no time finding a new home after being released by the Jets, but Fantasy players won’t be happy with where he chose. Bell will sign with the Chiefs, raising a lot of questions about both Bell’s and Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s appeal in the future.

Bell was reportedly motivated to choose the Chiefs by a desire to win, and given that he chose the Chiefs when the Dolphins reportedly offered a multi-year deal, he says he wasn’t as concerned about game time or money . Bell’s motivations for coming to KC make sense if you believe that, but it’s harder to see why the Chiefs would make Bell a priority after adding Edwards-Helaire with a first round pick in this year’s version, and which makes this such a worrisome move for Edwards-Helaire’s Fantasy value.

The Chiefs may see this as an opportunity to add some premium talent at a discount similar to how the Browns added Kareem Hunt after Nick Chubb last settled off-season. If so, the Edwards-Helaire role should be pretty safe. The Chiefs like to use multiple running backs, and the combination of Darrell Williams and Darwin Thompson didn’t do much with their odds, so this could be an opportunity to upgrade the reserve RB spot. Especially since, while Edwards-Helaire was active in the passing game, it was only used eight times in blocking passes; any upgrade out there is likely to help the Chiefs. In that case, Edwards-Helaire remains a must-start running back.

It’s also possible for Bell to come in and just flop for whatever reason. Perhaps his struggles over the past year weren’t just the result of a bad situation; maybe he really just lost a few steps. Or maybe he won’t like to play a minor role. If Bell isn’t the right choice, Edwards-Helaire will be fine too.

We discussed these possibilities in an emergency episode of the Fantasy Football Today podcast in response to Bell’s signing. Listen below and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts:

More week 6 help: Start ‘Em & Sit’ Em | QB | RB | WR | Starts and sits, sleeps and busts | PPR Cheat Sheet | Cheat sheet without PPR

But Edwards-Helaire has seen 77% of the team’s returns (goals plus carries) so far and is ranked 20th in PPR score per game. With the way the rookie has played so far, there isn’t much room for error in his fantasy value. Bell complained about his lack of touches in the last game with the Jets before his release, so it’s hard to believe he would be satisfied with the 6.2 touches per game that Williams and Thompson combined.

The first question, then, is how much of Edwards-Helaire’s role is Bell for? My guess would be about 10 touches per game for Bell to start, and about 17 for Edwards-Helaire remains. If so, you probably still consider Edwards-Helaire a top-20 running back, while Bell would be a solid flex, with more value in PPR formats, ironically, not unlike the situation Hunt found himself in with the Browns over the last year.

Edwards-Helaire is probably ahead of the game better than he has so far, if only because he has not yet to score on any of his 10 carries within the 10-yard line. It’s entirely possible he’ll lose those touches, but not lose much fantasy value as he’s generally becoming a more efficient player, while Bell gets enough work to be in the discussion for most weeks. That might limit Edwards-Helaire’s ultimate ceiling, who dreams that he would be a top five, perhaps forever in the past, but it wouldn’t make him irrelevant.

The problem comes when Bell starts to take more work than that, especially in the passing game or at the goal line. And given Bell’s track record, the passing game seems like the most obvious place for him to replace Edwards-Helaire. Even last season, Bell was pretty much an all-down back and rarely came off the field for any reason. If the Chiefs trust Bell more as a blocker, which seems like a reasonable assumption, he could become the favorite back in the passing game pretty quickly, a valuable role for any back.

And that would really put Edwards-Helaire on the job of improving as a runner, especially near the goal line. 45% of his Fantasy points have come from the passing game so far. If the Chiefs consider Edwards-Helaire’s struggles to be a problem in close range situations as well, things can get pretty unpredictable pretty quickly, and it’s not entirely out of the reach of the possibility that Bell could have a renaissance and Edwards-Helaire if the primary could take over. option here.

But none of that is predestined. There’s not much to suggest that the Chiefs are unhappy with Edwards-Helaire, so Bell could come to be strictly a role-player. Perhaps after a year of interacting with Adam Gase, Bell will be content to contribute to a winning team, play well in some big moments and restore his image in the league.

One thing is clear, though: the addition of Bell makes Edwards-Helaire much more risky to Fantasy’s advancement. Whether it ultimately costs him enough to push him to Fantasy couches remains to be seen. You shouldn’t panic and trade Edwards-Helaire for anything you can get, but you should prepare for the possibility that he just won’t be as good as you hoped.

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