The rich just keep getting richer, as the Kansas City Chiefs signed running back Le’Veon Bell to a one-year deal. As far as fantasy football is concerned, this move drastically affects the value of both Bell and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Edwards-Helaire enjoyed complete control of the backfield up until this point and was the RB12 heading into Week 6. Bell will obviously affect Edwards-Helaire, but who will see the majority of the touches?
Fantasy Football Outlook: Le’Veon Bell, Clyde Edwards-Helaire With Kansas City Chiefs
Chasing the Talent
Needless to say, the more talented running back will eventually see more opportunities and be more valuable on a per-touch basis. Both of these players are talented in their own right – Bell has an incredible track record, while Edwards-Helaire has the draft pedigree and youth on his side. Let’s take a look at the film and numbers to see which back is more likely to make the most of their opportunities.
Traditional stats would tell you that Edwards-Helaire is better, but those can be misleading. Rushing production has more to do with the blocking and scheme than the actual back, and Edwards-Helaire was in an immeasurably better situation than Le’Veon Bell. Because of this, the best resource available is probably Pro Football Focus.
According to PFF, Le’Veon Bell has actually been the better running back this year. While he’s a far cry from his former self, his current 73.7 overall grade would be good for 14th in the league, if he had enough snaps to qualify. Edwards-Helaire, meanwhile, is down at RB22. A deeper dive in their grades shows that Bell is the better runner and pass-blocker, while Edwards-Helaire has better hands. There isn’t much of a difference, but Bell holds the slight edge here.
Bell still has the talent to be a good fantasy back, but is he a good scheme fit? Bell’s patient running style can be absolutely lethal behind a good offensive line, but it doesn’t work if the line cannot win at the point of attack. This isn’t great news for Bell, as Kansas City ranks 17th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards, just two spots ahead of the New York Jets. Edwards-Helaire’s more aggressive run style is probably a better fit for the blocking, although both guys should find some type of success.
Le’Veon Bell, Clyde Edwards-Helaire Projected Workload
Ultimately, the difference in talent between these two is negligible. It’s highly unlikely that one back makes the other completely irrelevant, so let’s take a look at how Kansas City will use their new committee. Entering the season, Kansas City planned on using a committee approach with Edwards-Helaire and Damien Williams. However, Williams opted out, allowing Edwards-Helaire to become the de-facto workhorse by default.
Chances are, Bell is going to play the Williams role in the offense. Both players can make plays in all three phases of the game and will probably see a pretty even split in touches, with the slight overall edge going to Edwards-Helaire. However, Bell will probably be the primary goal line back. So far in his short career, Edwards-Helaire has not been able to get the job done on the goal line. According to Pro Football Reference, Edwards-Helaire has seven carries within the five-yard line. Those carries have gone for a collective negative three yards and no touchdowns, which is hilariously bad. Bell can’t possibly be worse than that, and should earn most of that valuable work.
Right now, this backfield projects as a poor mans’ version of the Nick Chubb – Kareem Hunt duo in Cleveland. Kansas City’s offense is probably the best in football, and should be able to keep Edwards-Helaire and Bell as mid-tier RB2’s with RB1 touchdown upside. The presumed red zone work should make Bell the more valuable commodity, but both players will remain fantasy-relevant the rest of the way.