We have all played it. We have also been subjects of the game, even if it was unbeknownst to us. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the game is simple and fun. You spot someone who looks like someone famous, or someone you know, and tell your friend to look at that person. You both have a laugh, and no one is the wiser.

Restaurant workers play the game religiously. In fact, you may have had very few meals where an employee did not use you as the victim. In most cases, it is used to increase efficiency. Instead of a bartender asking a server to deliver a drink to “the guy with the beard” or “the dude with the dreads,” he might instead say “give this to Ryan Fitzpatrick” or “take this to Larry Fitzgerald,” There might be three guys in beards, and four with dreads, but the guy with the biggest beard and the 6’3” guy in the dreads will get their drink and get it expeditiously.

The same game can be applied to fantasy football. We all love to figure out what a rookie or young rising player projects to be. It is in a fantasy player’s best interest to have a proper comparison for a player, if for no other reason than to have the advantage on the same friends they play the doppelganger game with in different settings. In 2019, when rookie quarterback Kyler Murray was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals, his doppelganger was a no-brainer, Russell Wilson. The height and build were similar. Both played baseball in college, and both moved exceptionally well in and outside of the pocket. While there are subtle differences in their effectiveness on the field, the similarities are apparent. If you were able to make the comparison and drafted accordingly, Murray was a good player for you last year and a cornerstone of your dynasty team.

Occasionally the game needs a bit of a rule adjustment. If a player has some of the traits of another, but one characteristic is far off, you may need to make the subject a spawn of two players. For instance, Saquon Barkley appeared unprecedented and was a difficult subject for whom to find a direct doppelgänger. When the draft process took place, there was no denying the talent and production. What teams had trouble with was pinning down his value. The Giants probably saw what yours truly saw: Barkley is the spawn of Bo Jackson and Barry Sanders. He has the straight speed and power of Jackson, genetically spliced with the low center of gravity, suddenness, and jump juking ability of Sanders. Oh, and he might have some Marshall Faulk receiving skills mixed in there too. 

To start the 2020 season, there are a few players whose doppelganger may be challenging to find. To properly gauge the fantasy value and potential upside of a rookie let’s play the doppelganger game.

CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE, RUNNING BACK KCC 

Due to his diminutive stature, rookie Edwards-Helaire is compared to other running backs who were listed at 5’9 or shorter during their career. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is listed at 5’8 and 209 pounds. While he may not be as tall as the prototypical backs, he’s a bowling ball on wheels, with slot receiver route-running and natural receiving skills. When making their decision heading into the draft, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was asked by a scout to watch tape of a player who the scout compared to Brian Westbrook. Reid’s response was Edwards-Helaire is better than Westbrook. If you consider that Westbrook averaged double-digit touchdowns from 2003-2008, this was high enough praise. At 5’10 and 203 pounds, Westbrook seems like a good match as a doppelganger. However, as can often happen when a bartender calls a server over for a quick game, the server can do them one better. In this case, Andy Reid is the bartender, who says the doppelganger is Westbrook. He’s a bit off: Maurice Jones-Drew is the natural doppelganger. Reid has been served.

At only 5’7 and 210 pounds, Jones-Drew was a fantasy superstar right out of the gate. In his rookie year, he gained 941 yards rushing on just 166 carries. He added 46 catches for 436 additional yards, finding the end zone 15 times in total. In 2019 at LSU, Edwards-Helaire caught 55 passes for 453 yards, to go along with 1,414 yards on the ground on 215 carries. This equals an eye-popping 6.6 yards per carry. His 17 total touchdowns would lead one to deduce he will find the end zone at the next level. 

The two running backs’ physical dimensions are almost identical, yet Jones-Drew seems like a lofty standard for Edwards-Helaire to meet. Aside from Edwards-Helaire’s collegiate production, another major contributing factor for optimism is the fact he landed in one of the best offenses we’ve ever seen. Despite concerns about incumbent Chiefs running back Damien Williams cutting into Edwards-Helaire’s immediate opportunities, there should be enough touches to go around. Edwards-Helaire could see similar usage rates to those of Jones-Drew as a rookie of 212 total touches. If Edwards-Helaire gets anywhere close to 200 touches, he will almost certainly provide instant fantasy value.

Featuring similar physical traits to Jones and a dream opportunity, Edwards-Helaire will have a chance to be elite from day one. His draft stock is currently 1.01 to 1.05 in rookie drafts, as it well should be. In a dynasty start-up, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a player in a rookie draft with more upside, and he should be taken before the third round in redraft.


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