For years, fantasy football fans around the league wondered just how good Kenyan Drake could be if he earned a full three-down workload. The Miami Dolphin running back was clearly a talented player, but Adam Gase never gave him the opportunity for a full workload. That changed in the back half of 2019, as Drake turned into one of fantasy’s most valuable assets with the Arizona Cardinals. Can he continue that success in 2020 as the top running back in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, or was this a small-sample fluke?
Note: All fantasy numbers are given for PPR scoring formats.
2020 Fantasy Football Outlook: Kenyan Drake
After starting the season with the Miami Dolphins, Drake joined the Arizona Cardinals midway through the 2020 season. Acquired at the trade deadline, the former third-round pick immediately earned the starting job in Arizona’s high-speed offense. The results speak for themselves, as Drake recorded 643 rushing yards, 171 receiving yards, and eight combined touchdowns during his eight games as Arizona’s starter. He was the RB13 on a points-per-game basis and only improved as the season progressed.
Perhaps what’s most impressive about Drake’s finish is the consistency. Drake scored double-digit fantasy points in six of his eight games (and 9.7 in another) while still providing the big week-winning performances down the stretch. Drake seemingly improved every week in Kingsbury’s offense, going off for a combined 90.3 fantasy points over the final three weeks of the season. While he obviously won’t sustain that pace over a full 16-game season, this shows just how dangerous he can be in this offense.
Additionally, Drake managed to put together these numbers in a fairly sustainable manner. While his rushing touchdown rate could slightly decrease, his snap counts show that he wasn’t producing in an unsustainable manner. Drake never played in fewer than 64% of the offensive snaps in any given game with the Cardinals, and usually saw his snap percentage in the high 70’s to low 90’s. Considering Arizona’s fast-paced offense, there really is no understating how valuable this snap percentage is for fantasy.
Kenyan Drake had a fantastic finish to 2019, and he should build on his success in the upcoming season. Drake had a clear hold on the starting job last year, and he should maintain that role heading into 2020. The Cardinals used the transition tag to retain his services, didn’t add anyone of note to compete, and traded away David Johnson and his massive salary. The only other noteworthy running back is Chase Edmonds, and he won’t challenge for playing time.
Running back production has just as much to do with the scheme/situation as it does the actual runner. Last year, Kliff Kingsbury proved that his scheme can translate to the NFL and turn running backs into productive fantasy assets. David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, and Kenyan Drake all had their chances as the starter, and each player ended up being a valuable fantasy asset. If “Arizona Cardinals Starting Running Back” was one player, they would have easily finished as a RB1. Drake will be the starter and, barring health, should finish as an RB1.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s plenty of reason to believe in Arizona’s offense being even better in 2020. Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray were both new to the NFL last year and underwent some growing pains. With a full season under both of their belts, they should more consistent and even more dangerous moving forward. Additionally, the team also acquired DeAndre Hopkins, which will lead to even more scoring opportunities for Drake.
Kenyan Drake Average Draft Position
As of this posting, Fantasy Football Calculator currently has Kenyan Drake as the RB7 in average draft position. This puts him in the same tier as guys like Dalvin Cook, Josh Jacobs, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, and Davante Adams.
Truthfully, this is a pretty accurate reflection of Drake’s value heading into the season. While I personally have him as the RB6, all of these players should have similar finishes to Drake. Ultimately, Kenyan Drake is a talented player with full control of the backfield in what should be a fantasy-friendly offense. He’s a worthy first-round pick and should be a key piece of your fantasy team throughout the year.
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