Damien Williams took the prudent path for himself and his family and opted out of the 2020 fantasy football season. I will put aside my long-bubbling feud with Damien William in order to sort out what this means for the Kansas City Chiefs and fantasy football writ large.
The Damien Williams Opt-Out and Kansas City
Damien Williams was one of two starters for the reigning Super Bowl champions to opt out this week. Both came on the offensive side of the ball, as well, as Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, KC’s starting Right Guard and a literal doctor opted out of the 2020 season to continue fighting COVID-19. While this is good for fantasy football, Damien Williams opting out is a big problem for Kansas City.
It looked they planned to platoon Damien Williams with rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a potential superstar in his own right. Without Damien Williams there, the Chiefs must now turn to one of Darwin Thompson (lord help us), DeAndre Washington (ehh), or Darrel Williams (…maybe…). It’s an uninspiring list whose exploits are short. Darwin Thompson probably had more hype pieces in 2019 than yards from scrimmage, DeAndre Washington is a not-great pass-catching back with a 3.4 yards per carry over the last three seasons. Darrel Williams might be the best of the bunch because he’s an okayish pass-catching back (though he carries his own 3.4 YPC). That’s… that’s a huge mess.
Last year’s third-string RB, LeSean McCoy, is a Buccaneer. That leaves the Chiefs with one real option in free agency: Spencer Ware. Ware has three seasons with the Chiefs and had 1,368 total yards with them (in 14 games) in 2016. If you remember, Kareem Hunt broke out after Ware tore his ACL on the eve of the 2017 season. Ware is only 28, and the only other real options are Lamar Miller (is 29 and missed 2019) and Devonta Freeman (is 28 and played like he missed the season in 2019).
There are no two ways around it: losing Damien Williams leaves the Chiefs in a lurch, though nobody can blame the man for thinking of his family first.
The Damien Williams Opt-Out and Fantasy Football
Okay, now that we got all that out of the way, click this so we can get the appropriate mood around fantasy football for 2020. If that’s not your speed, try this, or maybe this. Needless to say, Damien Williams leaving Kansas City for the year clears up a huge question mark in fantasy football circles.
Damien Williams ended 2019 on a tear, averaging 97 yards per game in the playoffs, including the game-sealing touchdown run. He did the same thing in 2018, but injuries limited and hobbled him this year (because he’s not suited to be a full-time back). This made it really awkward when the Chiefs took LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire with their first pick, making him the only RB any team drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. And as far as CEH goes, we are all here for it.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s 2020 Fantasy Football Value
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is an exceptional all-around back who is built, and plays, just like Maurice Jones-Drew. He even has a hyphen! By FantasyPros’ average draft position, the fantasy football community thought of him as a top-fifteen running back, going as the #30 overall pick. And that was with Damien Williams. The allure of CEH, who caught 55 passes at LSU in 2019, in the Chiefs’ offense, had everyone hot and bothered, even in a timeshare.
Now, the backfield is all CEH’s in 2020. He’s a first-round pick, and if you believe in a rookie in the Chiefs offense, go ahead and take him there. Personally, I want to move him up to the Josh Jacobs/Joe Mixon/Nick Chubb tier on this news, but I don’t think that’s enough. By the time I’m taking teams that I will for-real hang onto, CEH likely ends up with the likes of Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry, for me. He’s an exceptional talent in an exceptional offense.
I’m not the only one who thinks that as Andy Reid was the one who told us all that he’s better than Brian Westbrook. I trust Andy Reid to make the most of CEH, as he brought us not only Brian Westbrook, but great fantasy production out of Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, and even Damien Williams.
Damien Williams opting out leaves the Chiefs in a bit of a lurch, but it’s all systems go for Clyde Edwards-Helaire, so the fantasy football community could not be happier.