The masses have always recognized the fact that Kenyan Drake is an uber-talented football player. However, for whatever reason, the Miami Dolphins did their best to limit his production over the running back’s three and a half year tenure in the 305.
When Drake was shipped out of town and sent to the Arizona Cardinals prior to the trade deadline, we all expected an uptick in statistical output, however, none of us could have predicted the type of performance he would put up in his inaugural start with his new team.
Yet, with David Johnson set to return to the Cards lineup on Sunday, is Drake’s run as a viable starting fantasy option coming to an end after just one week of play? Let’s discuss.
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Kenyan Drake’s Fantasy Outlook vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kenyan Drake played in his first game with the Cardinals in Week 9, just three days after joining his new team. Due to the plethora of injuries up and down Arizona’s running back depth chart, not only did Drake play on a short week, he started and shined in what was supposed to be a demoralizing matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.
Drake absolutely torched a ‘9ers defense that had allowed opposing starting running backs to an average of just 50.1 rushing yards and zero touchdowns in six of their first seven games on the season. Drake finished the game with 162 total yards, one touchdown, and 24.2 fantasy points, the second-highest total by any player at his position for that given week.
While Drake’s performance was a welcomed sight for a Cardinals team decimated by injuries, that type of production has become almost expected within Arizona’s new Kliff Kingsbury-led offense. If you combine Drake’s Week 9 performance with Chase Edmonds’ lone start of 2019, along with David Johnson’s six week run prior to sustaining an injury, you would have yourself the third highest-scoring fantasy running back in football, and the fifth-highest scoring fantasy player overall this season.
Does this mean that a now healthy David Johnson will once again take majority ownership of the Cardinals backfield starting this Sunday? While he’s certainly capable, I believe there are two factors that work in Drake’s favor. For one, the team would have not traded for him had they not foreseen a role for the running back moving forward. Secondly, I think Arizona knew that DJ would return in a timely manner, meaning Drake was brought in to serve in more of a Chase Edmonds-type role, rather than to serve as a single-game replacement for Johnson. From Week 5 through Week 6, Edmonds was still able to produce an average of 16.15 fantasy points despite Johnson racking up 23.4 points per game of his own, showing that the Cardinals offense can produce more than one viable fantasy option from within their backfield.
Unfortunately, both runners may have a difficult time accumulating much of a statistical output this week against a stout Tampa Bay Buccaneers run defense. Tampa Bay ranks as the league’s best-run defense in football, allowing fewer than 79 total rushing yards per game to opposing teams this year. In return, the Bucs allow the third-fewest fantasy points to the running back position. To further pad their resume, they’ve put up those numbers despite facing off with the likes of Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and Christian McCaffrey (twice).
Should You Start or Sit Kenyan Drake in Week 10?
Drake will have a role within the Cardinals offense, as he is arguably the team’s second-best playmaker behind David Johnson amongst all the team’s skill positions. Both running backs possess the ability to be spread out wide as a receiver, allowing the team to toy with the possibility of deploying both players out on the field at the same time.
That being said, the matchup is horrendous, especially for someone that will likely have a decent-sized chunk of touches withdrawn from their usage. Drake is more of an RB4 on Sunday, with RB3 upside if he manages to hit paydirt.