- Veteran Kansas City Chiefs RB Damien Williams has opted out of the 2020 season
- The NFL OROY odds on rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire immediately improved from +700 to +450
- Does the decision by Williams to opt out of this season ensure Helaire as the go-to back in KC?
Debating over whether to invest in Clyde Edwards-Helaire futures was a popular offseason refrain of NFL bettors. Suddenly, though, putting some money down on the Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back out of LSU might be right up there with having bought Amazon.com as a penny stock.
Wednesday, veteran Chiefs running back Damien Williams informed the team that he was going to opt out of the 2020 NFL season over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. That is positioning Edwards-Helaire with the opportunity to run right into a role of prominence with the defending Super Bowl champions, and sportsbooks are taking notice.
The news ended up causing DraftKings to shorten the 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds on Edwards-Helaire from +700 to +450. Meanwhile, FanDuel moved their NFL OROY betting line on the first-year back from +500 to +360.
Both online betting sites list Edwards-Helaire as the second-favorite in the 2020 NFL OROY odds behind his former LSU teammate, quarterback Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals.
2020 NFL OROY Odds
|Player (Team)||Odds at DraftKings||Odds at FanDuel|
|Joe Burrow (Bengals)||+225||+230|
|Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs)||+450||+360|
|Tu Tagovailoa (Dolphins)||+800||+800|
|Jonathan Taylor (Colts)||+800||+1000|
|Cam Akers (Rams)||+1600||+2000|
|Justin Herbert (Chargers)||+1600||+2000|
|Jerry Jeudy (Broncos)||+1600||+1500|
|CeeDee Lamb (Cowboys)||+1600||+1500|
|D’Andre Swift (Lions)||+1600||+1500|
|Henry Ruggs III (Raiders)||+2000||+2000|
|Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Buccaneers)||+2200||+1500|
|Denzel Mims (Jets)||+5000||+2000|
|Jalen Reagor (Eagles)||+2500||+2000|
|Justin Jefferson (Vikings)||+2500||+2000|
Odds taken July 29th.
Edwards-Helaire was KC’s first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Williams Decision
Williams is the second KC starter to opt out. Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out previously. Once a player opts out of the season, they can’t opt back in.
Injuries hampered Williams last season. He appeared in 11 regular-season games, making six starts.
Statement from GM Brett Veach
“Damien Williams informed the club of his decision to opt out of the 2020 season." pic.twitter.com/dEQ2sUs9u2
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) July 29, 2020
However, his value soared in the postseason. Williams scored six playoff touchdowns. That included the last two during the Chiefs’ fourth-quarter rally to defeat the San Francisco 49ers.
Williams rushed for 104 yards in the Super Bowl victory.
Edwards-Helaire Value Increasing
Even before Williams made his decision, there was already a marked uptick in Edwards-Helaire value. Simply by being drafted to Kansas City, his NFL OROY odds immediately shortened from +1900 to +800.
If last year at LSU is any indication Clyde Edwards-Helaire will make the most of his opportunity with the Chiefs!
Last Season with LSU – (SEC Rank)
270 Touches (1st)
1,867 Scrimmage Yards (1st)
17 Scrimmage TDs (4th) pic.twitter.com/08Myic1UGa
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) July 29, 2020
No wonder. Looking at what the running back achieved last season with the national champion Tigers, he could put up some numbers. Edwards-Helaire finished first in the SEC in scrimmage yards (1,867) and touches (270). He rated fourth in the conference with 17 TDs from scrimmage.
There was a seismic shift in all of the betting odds on the Chiefs’ rookie runner. He dropped from +2500 to +750 to win NFL MVP. His odds of winning the NFL rushing title improved from +750 to +200.
Chiefs Backfield Depth
Kansas City probably won’t make a move to add another veteran running back. The Chiefs already signed veteran runner DeAndre Washington as a free agent.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire now has a clear path to a workhorse role as a runner and receiver in the most explosive offense in the NFL.
A reminder: he is the only player in SEC history to have 1,000+ rushing yards and 50+ catches in a single season.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 29, 2020
Last season with the Oakland Raiders, Washington made three starts replacing an injured Josh Jacobs. In those three games, Washington produced 334 yards from scrimmage and scored two TDs.
As well, KC also returns veterans Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson. That duo found the end zone five times in 2019.
Running With Clyde
Should you rush to get on the Edwards-Helaire bandwagon? Well, that depends.
Last season, the Chiefs tended to run just enough to keep defenses honest and allow QB Pat Mahomes to decimate them through the air.
Kansas City finished 23rd in the NFL with 1,569 yards gained on the ground. Williams led the team in rushing, rambling for a paltry 498 yards. KC’s 375 rush attempts rated 27th in the league.
In light of the Damien Williams opt out, here’s something interesting.
The Chiefs while in shotgun ran between the tackles for an NFL low 2.9 ypc.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire last season averaged 6.9 ypc on runs between the tackles in shotgun
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) July 29, 2020
Does the presence of an A-list back like Edwards-Helaire change that philosophy? Let’s not forget that KC’s already-thin offensive line is missing Duvernay-Tardif.
Don’t jump on this hype train. Go down the board and take a price on a back that figures to get every opportunity to shine in an offense that’s designed to highlight a runner.
That would be Cam Akers of the Los Angeles Rams.
Pick: Cam Akers (Rams) +2000
Let's have fun and keep it civil.