Kenyan Drake himself would probably admit that the 2017 season turned out to be an unexpected one, in a good way that is. Listed third on the depth chart behind Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams, little was expected from the second year running back. Even with the ongoing rumors that Ajayi and the Miami Dolphins were both unhappy with each other, Drake could have never predicted that 2017 would be his breakout. Now the question for both Drake and fantasy owners remains, “Can he do it again?”. We pull this “fish out of the sea” in the next installment of the Fantasy Spotlight.
2018 Fantasy Spotlight: Kenyan Drake
One Goes Out, Two Come in
The turmoil between the Dolphins organization and Ajayi reached its climax when Ajayi was traded to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles mid-season. Despite having a break out of his own in 2016, Ajayi struggled to find success with Miami early in 2017. Enter the duo of Drake and Williams, or at least that’s what we thought. Williams was injured five weeks after the pair began platooning in the Dolphins backfield. This injury would leave Drake as the team’s primary running back for the final five games giving him the opportunity to prove he could play at the NFL level.
Hello, My Name is Kenyan
During five weeks platooning with Williams, Drake averaged ten touches per game and scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving). Drake gave a glimpse of his ability during weeks nine and ten. In two games, home against the Oakland Raiders and at the Carolina Panthers Drake averaged 9.4 yards per carry on 16 rushes. Once Williams was injured Drake exploded onto the fantasy scene. Week 13 against a strong Denver Broncos defensive front Drake rattled off 120 yards on 23 carries and scored a touchdown. He added three catches as well, showing the potential to be a dual threat. He followed that performance with a 25 carry, 114-yard effort in a 27-20 week 14 win against the New England Patriots. More impressive than his rushing line was the five catches he had for 79 yards. Ultimately for the ten weeks he was on the field Drake averaged five yards per carry, rushing for 641 yards on 129 rushes. During his last five weeks as a starter, Drake exceeded weekly fantasy projections three times.
A Fishy Situation
Drake was one of the most impactful waiver wire pickups down the stretch of the fantasy season. He also seemed well on his way to being the lead back for the Dolphins in 2018. However there were some concerns. Drake ranked 9th in drops with five, and according to Player Profile he struggled against a stacked front, ranking 35th amongst running backs averaging only 1.2 yards per carry. His two fumbles in limited action was also alarming. For greater depth the Dolphins signed veteran running back Frank Gore and drafted Kalen Ballage. Both have the potential to significantly cut into Drake’s playing time. Gore is not getting any younger, but no one can debate his consistency and durability. Now 35 years old, Gore started all 16 games for the Indianapolis Colts last season rushing for 961 yards. Certainly it is tough to expect 20 touches a game for Gore, but eight to ten could hinder Drake’s production. Ballage wasn’t a standout in college, though he showed great ability to catch the ball. Also, he has drawn physical comparisons to Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson, two of the league’s elite running backs.
Fantasypros.com gives Drake an ECR (expert consensus ranking) of 33rd in PPR leagues. He is currently ranked as the RB17 in re-draft and RB24 in dynasty. Gore is targeted as the RB56 in draft leagues. Based off strength of schedule, Miami has the sixth easiest for running backs in 2018.
Temper the expectations on Kenyan Drake. He will likely open the season in a platoon with Gore. His production and Gore’s durability will determine the length of the platoon.
RUSH ATT RUSH YDS RUSH TDS RECS REC YDS REC TD
173 712 4 38 296 2
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