Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, or Derrick Gore: Who should you start on Thursday Night Football?

    Clyde Edwards-Helaire's fantasy value has been all over the place, but Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore may also be starting options on TNF.

    Week 15 means we’re officially into the fantasy football playoffs. If your team survived this far, don’t give up now. With the way things have gone, plugging someone into your lineup on Thursday can be a great plan. Before you do that, let’s look at Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s fantasy value — along with that of his teammates Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore — to see what makes the most sense.

    Which Chiefs running back should you start on Thursday Night Football?

    Honestly, the question is probably easier than it sounds, but with all of the chaos happening, all three could end up being start-worthy depending on the situation. Let’s dive in.

    Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the Chiefs’ clear RB1 when healthy

    The obvious choice for the Chiefs on Thursday is the second-year back Edwards-Helaire. CEH has been pretty hot and cold this season. He missed five games from Weeks 6 through 10 due to a sprained MCL. Prior to that, he wasn’t exactly a stud.

    Edwards-Helaire’s best week came in Week 4 against the Eagles when he scored 19.4 PPR points. He ran 14 times for 104 yards and caught 2 of 3 passes for a TD. CEH only scored 3.4 PPR points in Week 5 due to his injury, but he also only scored 2.6 PPR points in Week 2. He had a low floor and an average ceiling. But his season hasn’t been all that bad.

    Other than the game in which he was injured, CEH has rushed at least 10 times in each game he’s played. He’s RB43 overall on the year with 98.5 PPR points, but he jumps up to RB27 in points per game with 12.3. He hasn’t exactly been RB2-worthy most weeks, but he’s been great for fantasy since returning from injury due to scoring touchdowns.

    Darrel Williams picked up the slack in CEH’s absence

    With or without CEH in the lineup, Darrel Williams has been a solid backup RB for the Chiefs this year. In his first game as the starter, Williams scored 23.9 PPR points. This made him a terrific backup RB for fantasy as well. Williams has 149.9 PPR points on the year, 22nd among RBs. His 11.5 points per game average is still solid (RB33).

    Williams hasn’t missed a game this year. He has 6 more carries than CEH on the year, 22 more catches, and 1 additional touchdown. Williams has been used a lot more in the receiving game, getting almost a whole catch per game more than CEH has on the year. In PPR leagues, that means Williams has both a higher floor and a higher ceiling. This makes him tough to sit if you’re in your fantasy playoffs, even with CEH playing.

    Derrick Gore comes on late

    I won’t spend much space on running back Derrick Gore, but he is worth discussing in deeper leagues. Last week, in Kansas City’s 48-9 win over Las Vegas, Gore got a lot of work as the Chiefs’ third running back in the rotation. He scored the most fantasy points of the three with 16.9 PPR points. This alone puts him on the radar for fantasy managers who are desperate for points this week.

    The Chiefs face the Chargers on Thursday night

    Now that we know a little more about the three-headed monster that lives in Kansas City’s backfield, let’s turn our attention to Thursday’s matchup.

    The Chargers are weak against the run

    One of the main reasons that all three of these running backs are in play this week is because of the matchup. The Chiefs are only 16th in the NFL in terms of rushing yards, but the Chargers are 31st in defending the run. This could very well be a bloodbath for the running game with the Chiefs hitting on all cylinders.

    On top of that, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes will be playing in prime time. He loves playing in the spotlight and should very easily be able to pick apart the Chargers’ defense as he sees fit. With all of the PPR points that Kansas City’s backs have been scoring, it’s hard to sit any of them right now.

    Which Chiefs RB should you start?

    Like I said before, deciding whether to start these guys requires a little more context. I would have a really hard time sitting CEH in almost any situation. He’s healthy and playing, and that could be all that matters this week with everything going on. Granted, if you have better options and aren’t required to start that many players, I could understand sitting him. Outside of that, CEH should see your lineup.

    I could also see Williams as a solid flex/RB3 play in PPR leagues. In a season ravaged by injuries, he might be a team’s second-best running back on the roster at the moment. He should see plenty of action against a weak defense on Thursday. This makes him a good option with solid upside in a week when upside is key.

    Similarly, if your team is just beat down to almost nothing, you squeaked into the playoffs, and you need a moon shot to survive, you could do worse than Gore. I’m not recommending anyone start him in a vacuum, but given the right situation, I could see it.

    This is the rare case where the answer to “which one should I start?” could really be a simple “yes.” Hit me up on Twitter if you have some decisions to make around these three and I’ll be glad to answer regarding your specific situation. As I always say, context is key, but you really can’t go wrong here.

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