Each Friday during the 2022 NFL and fantasy football season, Eric Karabell will bring his always-reasonable perspective to highlight the biggest fantasy football storylines heading into the weekend's games.
As soon as the Kansas City Chiefs, coming off a Super Bowl championship led by Patrick Mahomes and featuring an unconventional running game, selected LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd pick in the 2020 draft, fantasy managers salivated over the possibilities. Edwards-Helaire was an instant hit, though rather inconsistent as a rookie, and big things were expected in his second season as well. Injury stopped him, but, in general, Edwards-Helaire figured to again be a valuable fantasy flex asset in this his third season.
This Sunday night's home game with the Tennessee Titans is a rather important one for those aiming to pinpoint what Edwards-Helaire is really worth in the fantasy world. In Kansas City's most recent game two weeks ago, CEH didn't start in what became a blowout victory over the supposedly defensive-minded San Francisco 49ers. Former Rutgers star, rookie Isiah Pacheco, started instead. It may be time for fantasy managers to re-evaluate whether Edwards-Helaire remains a safe flex option, putting him on the proverbial hot seat this week.
Edwards-Helaire scored on a cool 16-yard run in the third quarter of the 49ers rout, but if he hadn't, he may not have been presented with a goal-line touch. Who knows? Pacheco looked good, turning a modest (for a starter) eight rushes into 43 yards, including a 17-yard run. CEH was no less effective on his six rushes, scoring a TD. Wide receiver Mecole Hardman, incredibly, rushed for the first two touchdowns of his disappointing career, further clouding the running back picture here, at least a little bit. Few will rely on Pacheco or Hardman this weekend. Edwards-Helaire may not have his normal ESPN low-20s ranking at running back, but he's not far off.
The concern with Edwards-Helaire is not only that it sure looks like a timeshare is happening with Pacheco, who averages nearly 5 yards per carry, but also at how the original expectation was that there would be significant volume in the passing game. Edwards-Helaire is 5-foot-7, 207 pounds, built low to the ground, and he relies on vision and agility in the open field to accrue yards. He caught 36 passes on 54 targets over 13 games his first season. This season, Edwards-Helaire has 16 catches in seven games, and only one target in the past two games. Single-digit touches in consecutive games, with no action when Mahomes throws, is a new problem.