David Johnson Ruled Out: Kenyan Drake Fantasy Start or Sit on Thursday Night Football?

Getty Kenyan Drake, now of the Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals running back position has been a fantasy football goldmine for much of the 2019 season. However, the player at the helm of that position group has been a revolving door over the past few weeks, as injuries have rid the Cards of talented playmakers in their backfield.

With Chase Edmonds likely to miss the next few weeks with a hamstring injury, and former All-Pro David Johnson on track to miss his second consecutive game, Arizona decided to ship a late-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for Kenyan Drake prior to the trade deadline.

While Drake has only resided in the desert for less than a week, the team may have no other choice than to lean heavily on their newly acquired running back. Will Drake make a splash in his first game as a Cardinal under the bright lights on Thursday night? Let’s discuss.

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Kenyan Drake’s Fantasy Outlook vs. San Francisco 49ers

Kliff Kingsbury’s ability to be a successful head coach in this league is still up for debate. However, there is no questioning the positive impact his Air Raid offense has had on the Cardinals running back group. If you combine both David Johnson and Chase Edmonds’ fantasy outputs through the first eight weeks of the 2019 season, their 203.5 fantasy points would put them a meager 5.3 points behind Christian McCaffrey for the second-highest fantasy scorer, not only at the running back position but league-wide, regardless of position.

Unfortunately, Kingsbury and the Cardinals will likely be without the services of David Johnson and Chase Edmonds on Thursday night. Edmonds is in line to miss multiple weeks, while Johnson has yet to practice in what is a short week of preparation.

To ease the suffering of losing their top two playmakers for a divisional bout with the undefeated 49ers in Week 9, the Cardinals opted to trade for the ultra-talented, yet criminally under-utilized Kenyan Drake from the Dolphins. To get a better feel for the type of player Drake can be in this league, check out these forced miss tackles statistics laid out below via Pro Football Focus.

While Drake’s skill-level is unquestioned, he will have his hands full on Thursday night. For starters, getting acquainted within a new city and foreign offensive schematics in a few day span is a little to handle on its own. Secondly, he will be facing off with the vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense. The ‘9ers have held all but two runners this season below double-digit fantasy points and didn’t surrender their first touchdown to the position until last week in a matchup with Christian McCaffrey.

For all the praise we heaped on Drake in the paragraph prior, he’s certainly no Run CMC. His game is, however, built in a similar fashion. Drake’s receiving abilities are as good, if not superior to his rushing prowess. The running back has had 15 games over the past two and a half seasons where he’s racked up four-plus receptions. A Cardinals running back has hauled in six-plus receptions in four separate outings in 2019.

Should You Start or Sit Kenyan Drake in Week 9?

If you’ve ridden the Kenyan Drake rollercoaster as I have these past few years, your likely clamoring to insert him into your starting lineup now that he’s finally escaped the blood-sucking Dolphins.

However, don’t let that excitement cloud you from the fact that the matchup presented for Drake on Thursday night is horrendous. Drake does see a slight bump in PPR-formats, and though reports are that he is set to carry the load in Arizona, you have to wonder how much of that is true. Especially from a team that has steered us wrong in the past when it comes to the running back position.

I do believe Drake has some fantasy startability, as he could rack up some garbage time receptions to pad his stats with, but he’s still nothing more than a low-end RB3 at best on Thursday night.

READ NEXT: Fantasy Week 9: Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Running Backs

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