Fantasy Reaction: Kenyan Drake Signs with the Las Vegas Raiders

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There was a growing sentiment in the fantasy community last season that maybe Jon Gruden hated Josh Jacobs. They both certainly seemed to hate his fantasy managers, Gruden based on usage and Jacobs based on cruel Instagram games. That sentiment may go from a groan to a roar after the Raiders inked Kenyan Drake to a 2-year, $11 million deal. It may not be the end of the world, but very few people are going to be happy about the fantasy outlook of this addition.

Will the Real Kenyan Drake Please Stand Up

The tale of Kenyan Drake is a rollercoaster. After years of underutilization in Miami, it seemed that he had finally broken free when he was traded to Arizona. In the eight games that he played with the Cardinals in 2019, he basically matched his fantasy output of any season he’d played to that point. He was the RB4 in all of fantasy during that half-season and the future looked bright.

The first red flag was when Arizona put him on a one-year transition deal instead of signing him to something more substantial after they traded David Johnson. After the work he put out in those eight games, he certainly looked like he fit their system like a glove. Maybe they knew something we didn’t.

From a pure numbers standpoint, 2020 was not terrible for Drake. He finished with 955 yards and 10 TDs, both career highs. If you watched the games, it was clear that something wasn’t right. The 955 yards were on 239 carries, giving him a 3.99 YPC, the worst of his career. He wasn’t hitting holes and getting free as he did in 2019. To make matters worse, his involvement in the passing game, a key to his fantasy success, plummeted.

From 2017-2019, Drake averaged 63 targets and a 45/353/2 stat line. In 2020, he was targetted just 31 times, catching 25 balls for 137 yards and no TDs. If Drake is going to succeed, it is likely to be on the back of his receiving work and that has been a frustration for Josh Jacobs managers for two seasons now. With them in the same backfield, it certainly presents more questions than answers at this point.

Drake & Josh

The immediate reaction from most, myself included, was that this signing was terrible for fantasy football. In reality, it’s probably not that bad, it just depends on your expectations. If you were expecting Josh Jacobs the be a three-down, weekly RB1, you are going to be disappointed…and I might question how much Raiders football you watched in 2020. Jacobs’ usage last year was already frustrating for fantasy managers. The addition of Drake just replaces Devontae Booker as the RB stealing carries. Drake is probably a better RB than Booker but, in Gruden’s system, both RBs will see work.

In 2020, Jacobs handled 273 of the Raiders 397 RB carries or about 68%. He only received 45 of the 112 RB targets in the passing game. He did all of this while playing just 56% of the Raiders’ snaps. With the addition of Drake, he is going to cede carries but not as many as you might think. This is likely to be a two-man show and Drake is already inheriting 124 carries, if Jacobs gives up 50, we’re talking a 225-175 split, not bad for either back. Drake has been the better receiving back to this point, outside of 2020, and the team also re-signed Theo Riddick, so it seems unlikely that Jacobs’ targets go up. All in all, while this might mean slightly less work for both Jacobs and Drake from their 2020 totals, both are still looking at 200+ opportunities in 2021.

Dynasty Outlook: 2021 & Beyond

In redraft, 200+ touches will make it hard for Jacob to repeat his top-10 season from last year but he still has RB2 in his sights. Drake is slightly riskier but should also come at a discount after his disappointing 2020. In dynasty, putting in bluntly, this is all bad. The players themselves should be solid but if you are in an established dynasty, you probably acquired them with far different expectations than “solid RB2.” Jacobs was a hype machine last year and was coming off the board early in all drafts with a high price tag in the trade market. The trade value for Drake plummeted throughout 2020 so, if you didn’t sell, you’re probably stuck with him at a price you paid after his stellar finish to 2019. Running back is a “high-churn” position in dynasty, so don’t fret too much. Just make sure you make use of the new Dynasty Pass in the UDK+ to help bolster your stable of RBs and plan for a new future.

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