Kenyan Drake: A Decent Value Bet in Vegas
The fantasy value of Josh Jacobs was already in question heading into this season, as the fantasy community realized the Raiders just weren’t that into him. Now we get to pontificate and speculate even more, as they signed Kenyan Drake to a two-year contract worth $11 million on March 18th.
Let’s take a look at how the addition of Drake impacts the fantasy value of the Raiders’ offensive pieces and what his departure means for the backfield he leaves behind in Arizona.
The Roller Coaster that is Kenyan Drake
After three seasons of underutilization by Adam Gase in Miami, Drake was finally free after a mid-season trade in 2019 brought him to Arizona. In only eight contests with the Cardinals, the then fourth-year back found the end zone more than any other season thus far (8), and nearly matched his output from any prior full 16-game season.
In that eight-game span, Drake put up fantasy RB4 numbers, posting 17.9 half-PPR points per tilt. In the offseason prior to 2020, Arizona traded away David Johnson, clearing the way for Drake to shine. Or so we thought.
Drake served as the team’s early-down back and wasn’t used as much in the passing game as in previous years. This didn't seem to suit his strengths, as he was asked to carry the ball 239 times and only produced 955 yards, averaging just 4.0 yards per attempt, the lowest of his career. Drake had never eclipsed more than 170 carries in a season and served as more of a receiver out of the backfield.
From 2017-2019, the new Raider averaged 63 targets per season and finished 20th, 13th and 12th respectively in total targets among running backs. However, in 2020 Arizona chose to give Chase Edmunds double the targets as Drake, and switch up his main type of usage in the backfield. If the 27-year old is going to succeed for fantasy purposes in the Las Vegas offense, getting him more involved in the passing game has to be a thing in 2021.
Raiders Backfield with Drake - “Nothing Was the Same”
Last year Josh Jacobs was sixth among RBs in touches per game with 20.4 and ended the year as the RB12 in half-PPR points per game. Considering how much money LV paid Drake—he’s now the NFL’s 15-highest paid RB—the ceiling for Jacobs is no taller than that 20ish touch window. It’s highly likely that Jacobs will be more of a lead-back rather than a bell-cow, putting him in fantasy RB2 territory with little upside.
According to Ian Rapoport, “Jon Gruden sees Kenyan Drake as a jack-of-all-trades—a joker, as they say. He’ll figure prominently in the passing game.” With Jacobs most likely maintaining his role in early downs, Drake should be counted on as a receiving back and in third-down situations. There is also the possibility that Drake sees some goal-line work as well, as he had 22 carries inside the five-yard line in 2020, which was one more than Jacobs.
Last year Drake’s fantasy points per opportunity, a metric that divides total fantasy points by carries and targets, was a dismal .71, which ranked 101st. In a more appropriate role for his skillset, (which it seems to be leaning that way), Drake could improve his efficiency in 2021 with less wear and tear on his body overall.
Drake’s presence will be a good thing for the Raiders, but not so much for those with Jacobs on their dynasty rosters, or managers who have already drafted him as an RB1 in best-ball formats. It will be difficult to justify Jacobs as a second or even third-rounder with this signing, but Drake several rounds later is intriguing and presents cunning value, especially in PPR formats.
Fire up Chase Edmonds (For Now)
With Drake out of the picture in Arizona, those invested in Chase Edmonds should be pretty excited about his fantasy potential in 2021. Last year with Drake sidelined in Week 9, the 24-year old saw 28 touches and was in for 96% of the offensive snaps for the Cardinals. Even with Drake in the mix for 15 contests, Edmunds ended the year just outside RB2 territory in half-PPR points per game, as RB28.
If Edmonds assumes a three-down role in 2021, he could be looking at fantasy RB1 numbers and is currently being drafted as RB34 in the seventh round in BB10 leagues, the sixth in Underdog best balls and in the ninth round in FFPC drafts.
However, there is still plenty of offseason to go, and the Cardinals could choose to bring in another free agent RB or select one of significance in the upcoming NFL Draft. For now, consider Edmonds as an RB2 with upside and grab him in those middle rounds while you still can.
- With Kenyan Drake in town and his expected passing-game usage, Jacobs won’t warrant a second or possibly third-round pick in 2021. Consider him a fantasy RB2 and if he falls, could be a decent value for those considering a modified Zero-RB strategy.
- With his receiving prowess and potential goal-line work, Drake could be a sneaky value in those mid-to-late rounds, especially in PPR formats. Consider him an RB3 with RB2 upside.
- If Arizona doesn’t add anyone of significance to their rushing stable, Chase Edmonds has RB1 potential and is currently being drafted as an RB3.