Raise your hand if you were a frustrated Kenyan Drake owner in the 2018 season. I know you can’t see me, but I am stretching my finger tips so high, I can almost touch the ceiling and I’m only 5 feet 6 inches tall. Drake was up-and-down the fantasy points spectrum, scoring 6.6 points Week 1, 13 points in Week 2, then amassing a whopping 1 and 1.6 points in Weeks 3 through 4. It seemed the code that was Drake’s fantasy production was uncrackable.
A large part of last year’s problem was the “ageless wonder” Frank Gore swallowing all of Drake’s rush attempts like Gatorade on a hot day and head coach Adam Gase who refused to acknowledge that Drake was actually a running back for the Miami Dolphins.
Now, here we are, standing on the precipice of the 2019 season and Drake looks to be poised to finally become the workhorse for the Dolphins. Gore is in Buffalo (sorry, LeSean McCoy) and Adam Gase is now in charge of the Jets (sorry, Le’Veon Bell). New head coach, Brian Flores, as well as new offensive coordinator, Chad O’Shea, have sung Drake praises in the offseason. After all, they had a front row seat to not one, but two incredible Dolphins victories over their New England Patriots.
So, Flores should obviously recognize that Drake owns this backfield, right? Eh, well…
What We Know About Brian Flores
Flores entered into the NFL as a scouting assistant for the New England Patriots in 2004 after graduating from Boston College as a linebacker. He was promoted in 2006 to a pro scout, then became the special teams coaching assistant for New England in 2008. That title upgraded to assistant coach offense/special teams in 2010 only to be promoted yet again to defensive assistant the following year in 2011. Next, he became the safeties coach in 2012, only to be bumped up to linebackers coach prior to the 2016 season. Last year, Flores assumed playcalling duties in the absence of Matt Patricia, but alas, was never officially named defensive coordinator for New England.
Of course, all of this Bill Belichick-ian knowledge is golden in the NFL. However, there were ZERO offensive coaching positions, no offensive playcalling experience, or even history as an offensive player that I could find. It seems impossible to foresee how Flores will choose to run his new offense.
I want to point out two critical games that may shine a light on Drake’s future under Flores and O’Shea. Those games were December 11, 2017 and December 9, 2018 against the Patriots. Drake finished those two weeks with 21.6 and 14.4 fantasy points in half PPR, the Ballers preferred scoring method. In fact, Drake finished as the RB5 in Week 13 of 2017. He had his highest rush attempts for the year at 25, for 114 yards. He also tacked on an additional 5 receptions on 6 targets for a season-high 79 yards. The Dolphins went on to win that game 27-20.
Harken back to last year’s Week 14 against those same Patriots. It was that razzle-dazzle, scramble play that was eventually juggled off to Drake for the game-winning touchdown.
Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea had a front row seat to both winning performances.
Will Coaching Give Drake the Workhorse load?
In a recent Miami Herald interview, Flores was quoted as saying “I think Drake is an explosive player. I’ve seen it firsthand, unfortunately. He catches the ball well. He’s a good runner. He runs hard. He does a lot of really good things.”
If it sounds like a “but” is coming, that’s because there is.
“But I think, and I’ll say this to all of the players, they’re going to make most of their … The opportunities they get on the field will be up to them.” He further went on to say, “If they practice well, if they’re smart, they work hard, they’re tough, they block, they catch the ball consistently, they hit the hole correctly, then they’re going to play. That’s all of the backs. That’s [Kalen] Ballage, that’s Drake, that’s period. By committee or workhorse… those are the guys that are going to be out there.”
Not exactly the vote of confidence fantasy owners are looking for out of the head coach. As noted above, there is very little evidence or history of how Flores will choose to run his offense. Plus, offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea has been given the reins for playcalling in 2019. Guess what? Barely any history there, either.
When asked if Flores thought Drake could handle a “workhorse” kind of load, he vaguely responded with, “I think if that’s what’s best for the team, then that’s what we do. That will always be kind of my thought process on it.”
Can Drake Handle Being the Lead Back?
While nondescript regarding Drake’s role as a lead back or back by committee, there is one thing Flores made very clear. He is going to give Drake a chance to take the lead and he must succeed in that role in order to keep it. Obviously, this is professional sports we’re talking about here, so that should make perfect sense. Here is what stands out to me. Flores is actually going to give Drake a CHANCE. (Cough, cough, Adam Gase)
Kenyan Drake: 2013 and 2015 College Stats
Kenyan Drake: 2017 – 2018 NFL Stats
So, it’s pretty clear that Drake has yet to overshadow his running back counterparts like Yeldon, Henry, or Gore… yet. However, take a look at the 2017 numbers when compared to Jay Ajayi. These numbers allow me to believe that given the opportunity, Drake has the skill and a chip on his shoulder the size of Montana to motivate him to fight for that starting, workhorse role.
So, Do You Draft Kenyan Drake?
Yes! As of this article date, Drake’s ADP is 5.06 in half PPR. Being able to draft a potential points machine in the 5th round has tremendous value. There is very little competition for Drake this year and his head coach has made it clear that he will still have to work for it. Ergo, in order to stay on the field, Drake must productive, which means fantasy points for all of us. Plus, he has the explosive ability as a pass-catching back. These skills give Drake the potential to be dynamite in PPR formats as well as offering safety and value to your roster in all scoring formats.
Unless Brian Flores decides he is going to do his best impression of Adam Gase in the 2019 season, you can get Kenyan Drake relatively cheap with high upside in both standard and PPR formats.
Remember to do yourself a HUGE favor and check out The Ultimate Draft Kit for more in-depth research to dominate your draft. For more information on strategies to draft running backs, check out 5 Ways to Draft RBs by our own Ryan Weisse.