Game-By-Game Projections: Kenyan Drake (2020 Fantasy Football)
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Kenyan Drake is one of the hardest players to evaluate as we approach next season. On the one hand, the Cardinals parted ways with David Johnson and signed Drake to a one-year, $8.483-million contract. On the other, Drake’s RB17 finish depended upon his seven touchdowns between Week 15 and 17, a rate that doesn’t seem sustainable.
Also, head coach Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t usually feature a single rusher, and he doesn’t run the ball a ton. Sure, his running backs are often involved in the passing game. But a single running back earned more than half the carries in only two of his seven seasons as a head coach, which doesn’t bode well for Drake’s prospects as a workhorse.
Doing a dive on Kenyan Drake and Kliff Kingsbury's coaching tendencies.
In Kingsbury's entire coaching career, only one RB has gotten >50% of the carries. Who?
DeAndre Washington in 2014 (54.4%) & 2015 (52.9%). https://t.co/K1XWYDzxjK
— Isaiah Sirois (@is_sirois) June 8, 2020
So what can we expect from Drake heading into next season? Solid numbers, but not enough to justify his RB9 expert consensus ranking (ECR). Here’s a week-by-week preview of what to expect.
Week 1: at 49ers
The Cardinals kick off their 2020 season in San Francisco. Unfortunately, that means the Kyler Murray breakout party may have to wait. The Cardinals played well against the 49ers last year, and I think they’ve got a shot to win, but it’ll probably be more of a messy, defensive game than an elite passing performance. Drake played much better against the 49ers at home than away, so my expectations for his Week 1 showing are tepid.
Predicted Stat Line: 15 attempts, 62 yards; 4 receptions, 20 yards (12.2 fantasy points).
Week 2: vs. Washington
Murray and the Cards draw Washington next. Football Outsiders ranked the ‘Skins 24th against the run last season, but new head coach Ron Rivera should be able to get more out of a loaded defensive front. That said, I doubt they’ll have gelled by Week 2, and the game script should break in Drake’s favor.
Predicted Stat Line: 24 attempts, 114 yards; 2 receptions, 8 yards, 1 TD (20.2 fantasy points).
Week 3: vs. Lions
They’ll get another weak opponent at home in this one. Matt Patricia’s Lions ranked 17th against the run last season, and the losses of big men Damon Harrison and A’Shawn Robinson don’t bode well for their performance in the trenches. Drake should be able to post another good game here, although I expect Chase Edmonds to take some of the garbage-time work.
Predicted Stat Line: 17 attempts, 89 yards; 3 receptions, 25 yards (14.4 fantasy points).
Week 4: at Panthers
Carolina’s abysmal rushing defense ranked 32nd in 2019. I’m cautiously optimistic that Matt Rhule and his defensive-heavy draft class can turn things around, and things should start to click for them by Week 4. Drake won’t get shut out, but he won’t post top-tier numbers, either.
Predicted Stat Line: 13 attempts, 57 yards; 2 receptions, 10 yards, 1 TD (14.7 fantasy points).
Week 5: at Jets
New York ranked second against the run last season. Also, Drake has never run for more than 60 yards against the Jets — his best game came in 2018, when he ran for 53 yards, added 17 more through the air, and scored a touchdown. While I don’t have a lot of faith in Adam Gase, I’m not going to project Drake for a lot more than what he’s shown against this squad.
Predicted Stat Line: 11 attempts, 44 yards; 3 receptions, 21 yards (9.5 fantasy points).
Week 6: at Cowboys
The away game against Dallas on Monday Night Football will be a big chance for Murray to prove himself. It figures to be a high-scoring affair, as both Dallas and Arizona should feature mid-pack defenses next season. Drake’s fantasy production will depend on how the game script plays out, but I’m overall optimistic that he can post strong fantasy numbers here.
Predicted Stat Line: 17 attempts, 92 yards; 2 receptions, 10 yards, 1 TD (18.2 fantasy points).
Week 7: vs. Seahawks
Gone are the days of Seattle hosting a top-five defense. Last season, Drake torched the Seahawks for 184 total yards and two scores — in Seattle! He should do much of the same at home, although he may lose some snaps to Edmonds or Eno Benjamin.
Predicted Stat Line: 19 attempts, 127 yards; 2 receptions, 12 yards, 1 TD (21.9 fantasy points).
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: vs. Dolphins
Drake gets a revenge game against Miami in Week 9. While I expect Drake to torch Miami’s unremarkable rushing defense, I doubt Kingsbury will leave him in for the full blowout.
Predicted Stat Line: 15 attempts, 83 yards; 5 receptions, 34 yards (16.7 fantasy points).
Week 10: vs. Bills
The Bills are the AFC East frontrunners at this point, and their strong rushing defense is a vital part of their success. Young stars like Ed Oliver and Tremaine Edmunds should continue to prove themselves in 2020, and I’m expecting them to limit Drake’s effectiveness — after all, they held Drake to 3.5 YPC last season.
Predicted Stat Line: 8 attempts, 28 yards; 3 receptions, 25 yards (8.3 fantasy points).
Week 11: at Seahawks
Drake will have a chance to get right against Seattle in Week 11. As the playoff race heats up, the Cardinals will have little margin for error, and this will be a must-win game for them. As long as the game script falls his way, expect Drake to post RB1 numbers.
Predicted Stat Line: 16 attempts, 91 yards; 5 receptions, 21 yards (16.2 fantasy points).
Week 12: at Patriots
This game is a hard one to call. I’m not sure what to think of the Jarrett Stidham-led Patriots, but I know that head coach Darth Hoodie is not someone to bet against. While I doubt that the Patriots will lead the league in defensive efficiency like last year, they have enough talent to remain competitive — and that doesn’t bode well for Drake. The Pats bottled him up for just 3.2 YPC in 2019.
Predicted Stat Line: 9 attempts, 31 yards; 3 receptions, 25 yards (8.6 fantasy points).
Week 13: vs. Rams
Half of the Cardinals’ six divisional games fall in the final five weeks of the year. Their first game against the Rams isn’t until this one — Week 13 — and I’m unsure of what the matchup means for Drake. He ran for 2.4 YPC in his first game against them in 2019, but then he ran for 5.0 YPC in Week 17. He’ll probably put up numbers somewhere in between those two marks.
Predicted Stat Line: 14 attempts, 53 yards; 4 receptions, 30 yards, 1 TD, 1 FUM (16.3 fantasy points).
Week 14: at Giants
Daniel Jones vs. Kyler Murray. The top two quarterbacks from the 2019 draft class will square off against each other in what should be a high-scoring affair. The Giants’ rushing defense ranked 24th last season, and the physical brand of football that new head coach Joe Judge promises may not manifest in Year One.
Predicted Stat Line: 18 attempts, 85 yards; 2 receptions, 10 yards, 1 TD (17.5 fantasy points).
Week 15: vs. Eagles
The Eagles ranked fourth against the run last year, and that doesn’t bode well for Drake. Sure, Tim Jernigan might be gone, but Fletcher Cox should be able to keep Philly’s defensive front near the top of the charts.
Predicted Stat Line: 10 attempts, 35 yards; 5 receptions, 23 yards (10.8 fantasy points).
Week 16: vs. 49ers
The Cardinals play their penultimate game at home against San Francisco. If Kyler Murray has the season that everyone expects of him, this game should have playoff implications. I expect Drake to rise to the occasion in this one, and he’ll get some redemption after a mediocre Week 1 performance.
Predicted Stat Line: 17 attempts, 102 yards; 3 receptions, 34 yards, 1 TD (22.6 fantasy points).
Week 17: at Rams
I hope your league ends before Week 17. Whether or not these teams remain in playoff contention will determine the game script, and that could mean either heavy usage or rest for Drake. If we assume that both teams still have a fighting chance, you can expect respectable numbers from Drake.
Predicted Stat Line: 15 attempts, 56 yards; 6 receptions, 42 yards (15.8 fantasy points).
Final 2020 Projections
Final Stat Line: 238 attempts, 1,148 yards; 54 receptions, 350 yards, 7 TDs, 1 FUM (243.8 fantasy points).
Overall, I’m expecting a solid year from Drake. While there’s always a chance that he gets hurt, there’s no point in guessing when that occurs or how many games he might miss. As a result, these projections paint a sunny best-case scenario.
In 2019, 243.8 points would have put Drake at RB10, sandwiched between Saquon Barkley (244.1) and Mark Ingram (242.5). His 15.2 average points per game would’ve been 13th among running backs, .1 below the mark of 15.3 he posted last year. Realistically, Drake plays enough games to finish as a high-end RB2, not a low-end RB1.