With Adam Gase out town, Kenyan Drake is ready to shine. Now is the time to buy-low.
Coming off a strong finish to 2017, Kenyan Drake was a frustrating player to own in 2018. Despite leading the team in touches through the first three games, Drake took a back seat to Frank Gore in the season’s fourth week. From there he had only one game where he tallied more than 100 total yards and just three games where he was given more than 10 carries. Despite catching 53 passes, he was generally seen as a bust given his ADP in redraft and sticker price in dynasty.
The Gase Effect
So why should you be looking to buy Kenyan Drake? For starters, Adam Gase is gone. During his time in Miami, Gase was never able to capitalize on the talent he had, mostly due to his own ego. Despite his reputation as an offensive whiz kid, Gase’s Miami offenses consistently ranked in the bottom third of the league. Almost every offensive weapon the Dolphins had underachieved and the one who didn’t (Jarvis Landry) was traded away.
Offensively the Dolphins were a mishmash of a coach who wanted to lean on the passing game but a team whose best players were their running backs. This is exemplified by the fact that Drake does not even have enough career rushes to qualify among active leaders in yards per carry. It was a criminal mismanagement of a talented football player as Drake would be tied with Ezekiel Elliott in YPC if he qualified. Essentially, Gase’s departure means the arrow is pointing up.
The New QB
Gase Effect aside, the Dolphins added Ryan Fitzpatrick which should mean good things for Drake as a receiver. Over the past five seasons, Fitzpatrick has targeted running backs on 19.1% of his throws. That is a healthy number and encouraging for a player with Drake’s skill set. The numbers running backs have put up playing alongside Fitzpatrick pop off the page too:
- Fred Jackson (2010): 222 Carries/927 Yards/5 TDs with 31 Receptions/215 Yards/2 TDs
- Jackson (2011): 170/934/6 with 39/442
- CJ Spiller (2012): 207/1244/6 with 43/459/2
- Arian Foster (2014): 260/1246/8 with 38/327/5
- Chris Ivory (2015): 247/1070/7 with 30/217/1
- Bilal Powell (2016): 131/722/3 with 58/388/2
Fitzpatrick made Chris Ivory relevant in the pass game so this is a good sign. In PPR, those backs had weekly RB2 floors which is what I envision for Drake this fall. Add in the fact Drake has 4.45 speed to go with a sturdy 210-pound frame and you have an open field threat in space with the ball in his hands.
As far as opportunity, the Dolphins backfield will be far less crowded as Gore signed with Buffalo as a free agent. His departure frees up almost 170 touches and 850 yards, most of which should go to Drake. Even if he only picks up 50% of Gore’s production, you could be looking at a player who will smash his price tag.
Aside from re-signing Devante Parker and bringing in Dwayne Allen, the Dolphins did nothing to improve the offense. Drake will come into 2019 as the best skill player on the team so it makes sense to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. I don’t think it’s out of the question he has a Rex Burkhead/James White type of role playing in the slot when he isn’t in the backfield.
As his passing game role blossoms, Drake could fulfill his promise as a true RB2. On a team that will be playing from behind almost exclusively, Drake should flourish in the passing game, adding PPR value and far exceed his 2018 production.
Kenyan Drake carries some risk, minimal though it may be. The presence of Kalen Ballage lingers and there are some who believe he is the superior receiver of the two backs. If new head coach Brian Flores agrees, it would be Ballage who will get most of the receiving work.
Speaking of Flores, he didn’t exactly commit to Drake as his lead back when pressed about it. He offered praise of Drake’s explosiveness and pass catching ability but followed that up by saying the player who worked the hardest and followed their assignments would play. This could be off-season coach-speak or it could be Flores leaving the door open for a committee. Still, with the lack of weapons in the Dolphins’ offense Drake should be featured on a weekly basis.
Drake is an easy buy for me right now. He just turned 25 and despite a disappointing year in 2018, he still had 1,000 combined yards and 9 TDs. He also ranked 14th among running backs with the 53 receptions so there is room to grow. If you buy into the ceiling, he could potentially jump into RB1 territory but he is being viewed right now as an RB3. This is exactly the type of player I want to invest in: Underpriced, talented, and coming off a down year.
Its a winning strategy to target running backs who can contribute in the passing game and Drake fits that bill. There are a lot of factors that are pointing the arrow in the right direction and he shouldn’t be cost prohibitive. In three career games where he received 20+ touches, he has averaged over 22 fantasy PPG. I have already acquired one dynasty share and will begin actively targeting him in startups over the next month. You should be looking to get in on him now before he flashes in OTA’s and the price starts to jump.
You can follow me on Twitter @JasonKamlowsky to talk about anything with fantasy football or fantasy baseball. Also, be sure to follow @DynastyFBDigest and @IDPGuys and check out the content on dynastyfootballdigest.com for everything fantasy football related.