Is Kenyan Drake a Fantasy RB1 in 2020?

May 28, 2020
Is Kenyan Drake a Fantasy RB1 in 2020?

It’s safe to say that Kenyan Drake’s career was saved by the Dolphins’ decision to trade him to the Cardinals in the middle of last season.


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His debut came in Week 9 with both David Johnson and Chase Edmonds sidelined. Drake turned 19 carries into 162 total yards and a touchdown against the league’s No. 6 rush defense (San Francisco). Not bad.

His next four games were mediocre. He averaged 60 total yards on 16.8 touches per game but didn’t find the endzone. Johnson was active for those four weeks (4.3 touches per game) but the Cardinals stuck with Drake despite the so-so production.

In the final three games, Drake exploded, racking up 413 yards and seven touchdowns against the Browns, Seahawks and Rams. He had back-to-back 30+ point games in Week 15 and Week 16, so he literally won fantasy leagues for those owners who started him in the playoffs.

Now David Johnson has been shipped to Houston and the Cardinals used the transition tag to retain Drake’s services. And why not? After the trade, Drake accounted for 60.7% of the team's rushing yards, an impressive share considering Kyler Murray ran for 265 yards in the same span. He also averaged 3.5 catches per game and 21 yards receiving while rushing for 5.23 yards per carry. (Johnson and Edmonds combined for 4.20 YPC behind the same offensive line.)

Drake’s production, while impressive, wasn’t a fluke. Prior to his arrival, Johnson (four) and Edmonds (one) combined to have five games with at least 102 total yards. If we only look at the best Arizona running back each week through the first eight weeks, they would have combined to be the No. 5 fantasy running back at that point in the season. So the Arizona offense was producing fantasy points at the position even before Drake’s arrival.

And it’s not like we haven’t seen this sort of production before from Drake. In the final five games of the 2017 season, when the Dolphins finally handed him the keys to the backfield, he averaged 119 total yards and 0.40 touchdowns per game.

Conclusion

After the Cardinals’ decision to retain him with the transition tag, and the subsequent trade of David Johnson, Drake’s ADP is on the rise. He’s currently going off the board as the No. 11 running back in the early second round in 12-team best ball drafts. I have him a few spots higher, as my No. 8 back in our official 2020 projections.

Chase Edmonds will be a valuable attrition stash, but I don’t think he’s going to have weekly value with the way the Cardinals were using Drake late last year.

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