After finishing up our initial 2019 projections and writing my Rankings Breakdown series, I began to enter best ball drafts and participated in a few industry mock drafts. One player who continues to jump out as a value in the fifth round of 12-team drafts is Kenyan Drake.
Even though Drake’s 2018 campaign is considered a disappointment the fantasy community at large, he finished 14th at his position in PPR scoring (17th in half-PPR) after ending the summer 17th in average draft position.
The most common complaint I’ve heard about Drake is that he wasn’t consistent enough, and there is some truth to that. He scored fewer than 10 points in PPR formats in half of his games and scored 12+ in the other eight games. Looking ahead to 2019, though, I’m not really worried about his previous lack of consistency. Much of that was due to his irregular usage under head coach Adam Gase, who is now in New York coaching up the Jets. Meanwhile, the Dolphins tabbed Patriots’ linebackers coach Brian Flores to lead the team, and he, in turn, hired Chad O’Shea to run the offense. O’Shea previously served as the Patriots wide receivers coach from 2009 to 2018.
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What does this all mean? Well, Gase is gone, so Drake at least has a chance to earn a larger role in the offense. O’Shea comes from a highly effective offensive system that typically utilizes a committee in the backfield. However, talent generally wins out and the system is built around the players’ strengths.
From a usage standpoint, the other big thing working in Drake’s favor is the departure of Frank Gore. Gase favored Gore as a runner because he had fewer negative plays, and he ran pretty well last year, turning 156 carries into 722 yards (4.6 YPC). Kalen Ballage figures to get some of those carries, but there is plenty of opportunity for Drake to build on his 120 carries from last year.
Let’s take a look at how he has fared when he receives nine or more carries over the past two seasons.
Kenyan Drake Game Logs w/9+ Carries
In 12 such games, Drake has turned an average of 17.8 touches into 96 total yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game, while compiling a stellar 4.66 yards per carry. (Lest you think I’m cherry-picking his most effective games, I’d like to point out that he averaged the exact same YPC—4.66—in his other 83 carries.) The resulting 230.5 fantasy points in half-PPR formats would have been good enough for a No. 9 finish at his position in 2018.
I’m currently projecting Drake at No. 14 in half-PPR leagues, with 213 carries for 935 yards and 54 catches for 448 yards. Notice that those numbers are all lower than his prorated 16-game pace in the table above.
Considering James White’s 4.4 catches per game over the last three seasons, Drake has 70-catch upside now that he’s playing for O’Shea, who will presumably bring much of New England’s playbook to Miami.
Flores, for his part, has been complimentary of both Drake and Ballage, so this is certainly a camp battle to watch this summer. Given the price of each player, it wouldn’t be difficult to get both and let the process play itself out. As it stands, I think Drake will serve as the lead back and post a solid RB2 season, which makes him a tremendous value as the 28th running back off the board. He has shown he could even post RB1 numbers if given a true lead back workload.