Monday, June 29, 2020

Making The Case For D.K. Metcalf



√ College Injuries Deflated Status
√ Freak Athlete
√ NFL Bloodline
√ Rookie Production
√ Target-Share
√ Elite QB
√ Long-Term Stability


         
          There was justification for skepticism about DK Metcalf when he came into the league as a rookie. His college career at Ole Miss went like this:

FR: 2/13/2 in 2 games (season-ending broken foot)

SO: 39/646/7 in 12 games

JR: 26/569/5 in 7 games (season-ending cervical neck fracture)

*early declare*

          Naturally, the focus was on other WR’s as we started the beginning of the 2019 pre-draft process…

& then this happened…


& the DK hype-train started to build steam – quickly…



√ Freak Athlete

          Just a couple weeks after that photo surfaced, DK scorched the combine with a 4.33 40 & 40.5” vertical while casually throwing up as many bench reps as offensive lineman (27)… at 6’3”/228…

At that point, the hype-train damn near ran off the tracks & we were all left wondering – who in the world is DK Metcalf?

          The inevitable effect was that we ended up seeing more than a few NFL mock drafts with DK being projected as high as the top-5…

So when he “slipped” all the way out of the first round & many of us were already in bed sleeping when he got picked by SEA with the last pick in the second round, it gave us reason for pause.

Questions about his injury history resurfaced.

& doubts about his statistical upside in a “run-first” offense crept in…

Then he went out & seized the starting job & put up oh you know just a cool 4 receptions for 89 yards in his first game as a pro…

At that point, anyone who’d been disregarding him was forced to face reality – DK Metcalf is here to stay.



√ NFL Bloodline
         
          If you didn’t know, D.K. is the son of former Bears OL Terrence Metcalf – a 7-year NFL vet & first-team All-American at Ole Miss himself.

You can read more about the influence Terrence had on DK as a kid here.

Apparently, Terrance had DK squatting 100 pounds when he was just 5 years old…

That rare combination of NFL bloodline + freakish athleticism can = marvelous results (see McCaffery & Mahomes)…

Could DK be next?

          We saw it in spurts at Ole Miss, on full display at the combine, & come full circle in his rookie year, which by the way, was historically good…



√ Rookie Production
    
          Here’s the list of rookie WR’s (since 1990) with at least 58 receptions, 900 yards, & 7 TD’s:


          Michael Clayton is the rare WR to disappear after that kind of rookie success & even the other 3 “busts” (Johnson, Williams, & Benjamin) had decent success for a few years.

The rest:

Juju
McLaurin
Colston
Galloway
Keenan
Evans
AJG
MT
OBJ
Moss
Boldin

Now go look at what Year 2 looked like for those players…

It’s glorious…

         
          DK produced from Day 1 as a rookie, but in the second-half of his rookie year particularly, he balled like a 75-reception/1,150-yard WR would…

Over the last 8 regular season games & 2 playoff games, he caught:

46/717/4

That’s a 16-game pace of:

73/1147/6

That pace is 100% replicable & should be considered his Year 2 floor with no new target competition added in 2020, & considering DK actually caught 7 TD’s last year & not 6, I’m willing to bet he hits double-digits in Year 2.

That’d give him 73/1147/10 going by his second-half-of-rookie-year receiving-pace.

73/1147/10 = WR10 last year.



√ Target Share

          Speaking of target competition – there is none.

Tyler Lockett had a career high 110 targets last year (21.3% market share)

DK had 100 (19.4% market share)

After that…

Jacob Hollister – 59 (11.4%)
Chris Carson – 47 (9.1%)
David Moore – 34 (6.6%)
Jaron Brown – 28 (5.4%)
Will Dissly – 27 (5.2%)

35-year-old Greg Olsen slots in over Hollister, Carson’s health is in question, & Dissly is coming off his second season-ending injury in two years (torn achilles)…

The only WR’s they brought in (Phillip Dorsett & 6th rounder Freddie Swain) are more likely to replace Moore or Brown than anything.

There’s no reason Lockett & DK can’t both see 125 targets apiece this year & finish with a 21-22% market share.

Leaving all other roles the same, it’d take Russ going from 516 attempts to 556 to get DK & Lockett those 40 extra targets.

With the best WR duo he’s ever had, a RB corps that has more RB’s in the rehab room than on the field, & the fact that he’s in his prime as a passer, I expect Russ to very likely surpass 553 for a new career high.

Even if he doesn’t, for all the concerns about DK’s statistical upside in a “run-first” offense, Russ was 6th in the NFL in passing yards last year & 3rd in TD’s on “just” his 516 attempts. He’s also thrown for 30+ TD’s in 3 straight seasons.



√ Elite QB

          Being tethered to Russell Wilson is perhaps the biggest selling point for DK in dynasty formats – besides the freakish athleticism, youth, NFL bloodline, & historically great rookie production…

Because Russ is 31 & DK is 22…

& based on the team’s history of paying their cornerstone players (Russ, Marshawn, Wagner, Sherman, Chancellor…) we can expect DK to sign an extension before ever even sniffing the FA market.

That = a legitimate shot at Russ-to-DK magic for the next decade.

         
          There’s only one answer here, and it’s:

BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY BUY.

Today, tomorrow, here, or there, in a train or on a plane, buy DK Metcalf wherever you can. Best-ball, redraft, or dynasty, the freak that is DK Metcalf is about to be set free.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Making The Case Against Investing Heavily In Todd Gurley




          Is anyone else getting major Steven Jackson-to-Atlanta vibes from Todd Gurley this year??

Or is it just me?

*HYPE through the roof
*Comes to ATL w/ mileage
*Downward trending
*Injuries
*WR's & TE's to limit receiving work
*Reality ≠ HYPE


          Jackson was a soon-to be 30-year old former STUD RB coming off a year in which he rushed for 258/1045/4 & caught 38/321 for the Rams.

He landed in a high-scoring ATL offense & we drooled over the workhorse POTENTIAL.

The hope was - with little competition on the ATL depth chart, Jackson might be able to recreate the 3-down production that we'd seen in previous years with receiving lines like:

43/320/2
90/806/3
or 51/322

There was reason to believe he'd see enough VOLUME to do it.

So we overlooked his mileage, a downward trend, injuries, and the WR's & TE's (Roddy White, Young Julio, Old Tony G) limiting his potential receiving upside...

All because we looked at the ATL RB depth chart, saw nobody behind Jackson, & thought to ourselves:

"WORKHORSE"

This led to a lot of us sinking 2nd & 3rd RD picks into Jackson.

I can't find ADP data, but in my 12-team home redraft league, he went at 2.11

He played 12 games with ATL that year, finishing with:

157/543/6
33/191/1

He was RB22 in PPG

A low-end RB2 who missed time.


          Now, Todd Gurley is going into his age-26 season & not his age 30-season, but part of you has got to worry about whether he's got a 30 year old's knees.

Because literally every other factor we ignored with Jackson is present:


*Mileage

Not quite the same mileage as a 30-year old Jackson, but Gurley comes to ATL with 1,265 NFL carries on his tires & 5 straight years of 223+ carries...


*Downward trending

Gurley started off 2018 with a fantasy-MVP level bang & that's what we all like to remember, but he had a noticeable drop-off the second half of the year, missed the final 2 regular season game with knee "soreness," and had a Super Bowl line of 10/35.

It was reported after the Super Bowl that Gurley was dealing with "an arthritic component" in his knee... and in 2019, he did nothing to quell those concerns.

His YPC dropped from 4.9 in 2018 to 3.8 last year.

For those who don't give a damn about YPC, his yards after-contact dropped from 2.4 YAC in 2018 to 1.7 YAC last year.

& his coach actively refused to utilize him in receiving situations, which maybe sorta kinda indicates his coach didn't view him as the same threat he once was?

Gurley's yards per-catch dropping from 9.8 YPC in 2018 to 6.7 YPC last year & his catch percentage (of targets) dropping from 72.8% to 63.3% would indicate his coach might have been onto something.

His 34.8 PFF grade confirms it, & doesn't even compare to Devonta Freeman's 2019 receiving grade (69.5)


*Injuries

Jackson didn't come to ATL with any major injury concerns, but he had missed time in 4 of the last 6 seasons prior with the Rams.

Gurley comes to ATL with a known arthritic knee that – from all indications – played a role in his slow finish to 2018 & even poorer 2019.

So, just like Jackson, Gurley has a high potential of missing time with Atlanta.


*WR’s & TE's Limiting Receiving Work

We thought S-Jax would get a lot of receiving work because there were no other RB's in ATL, but he caught just 33/191 in 12 games because Matt Ryan had Roddy, Julio (who only played 5 games that year), and Old man Tony G to throw to.

Now, we assume Gurley is gonna get a lot of receiving work because of a lack of another 3rd down back on the roster, but Matt Ryan has Julio, Calvin Ridley, and a young Hayden Hurst to throw to, not to mention, I've heard Russell Gage isn't terrible.

It feels like we’re talking ourselves into Gurley having a lot of receiving upside this year based on his previous receiving lines of:

64/788/6
& 59/580/4

While ignoring the more recent lack of usage in that department – exactly the mistake we made with Jackson…



          Look, I get it. It’s easy to fall in love with Gurley’s 2020 upside. He’s in probably the best position he could be in to somehow re-capture his early-2018 magic...

But, if we’re being honest with ourselves, the potential for him to:

-Be inefficient with limited rushing volume (ATL led the league in passing attempts per-game last year)

-Be relatively uninvolved as a receiver

- & possibly miss games...

is probably just as likely, if not more so than him becoming a STUD RB again.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Making the Case for TE-Early AND Late In Your 2020 Redrafts



          The most compelling case for TE-early & late is the simple fact that it is BY FAR the scarcest position to find production at, even scarcer than RB. Even though TE is deeper than ever, it’s still nowhere near a deep market.

In every tier, supply ≠ demand.
Last year:

114 players scored 150+ fantasy points:

29 QB’s
31 RB’s
45 WR’s
9 TE’s

In 12-team leagues, that’s:

2 QB’s apiece & a 3rd for every other team.
Nearly 3 RB’s apiece.
Nearly 4 WR’s apiece.
But not enough TE’s for everyone to get one…


85 players scored 190+ fantasy points:

28 QB’s
21 RB’s
30 WR’s
6 TE’s

In 12-team leagues, that’s:

More than enough QB’s & WR’s for 2 per-team
Almost enough RB’s for 2 per-team
But only enough TE’s for half the league to get one…


59 players scored 220+ fantasy points:

24 QB’s
13 RB’s
19 WR’s
3 TE’s (!!)

(Kelce/Kittle/Waller)

Do you see where this is going??

(TE EARLY!)

By going RB in RD1 (and possibly also RD2), you can secure one (or two) of those 13 RB’s, be one of the few teams to set themselves apart at TE with one of their first 3 picks, & “settle” for gobbling up the sturdy mid-round WR’s & late-round QB’s.

This strategy is ideal because it allows you to have the most important assets in the smallest (& most valuable) markets (RB & TE), with the deepest & easiest markets to trade up in (WR & QB) being your weakest positions going into the season.


You can trade up the QB & WR ladders in-season for a half-eaten bagel & your loose pocket change.

Trading up the RB & TE ladder will cost you an arm, a leg, & the shirt off your back.

Which position would you rather find yourself in??


This year, whether it’s:

Kelce/Kittle RD2
Andrews RD3
Waller RD4
Ertz RD5
Or Henry/Engram RD6

You should be prioritizing getting one of the clear top-7 TE’s who are projected to give you a legitimate advantage at the position.

Getting one of these TE’s gives you a legit chance at cornering the trade market if you hit on your TE-late target/a waiver addition early in the year.


Kelce/Kittle make sense in RD2 if you’re comfortable getting your RB2 & RB3 in RD3 or later.

Mark Andrews makes sense in RD3 if you don’t see a huge gap between him & Kelce/Kittle and/or if you’re intent on starting off RB/RB.

Waller makes sense in RD4 if a solid RB/WR falls to you in RD3, or if someone snipes Andrews.

Ertz makes sense in RD5 if you want to gobble up RB’s & a WR (or two) through RD4.

Personally, this is my cut-off point, as I don’t particularly trust Henry’s or Engram’s health, but they make sense in RD6 if you don’t see a huge gap between them & Ertz & would rather grab another RB, WR, or your first QB in RD5.

After those 7 TE’s it’s a guessing game.


There are 15 TE’s popular TE-late targets this year:

(In order of Sleeper ADP)

Higbee, Jared Cook, Hurst, Hooper, Fant, Gesicki, Hockenson, Jonnu, Jarwin, Ebron, Goedert, Doyle, Herndon, Knox, & Ian Thomas.

We love names this time of the year, but it’s a major risk assuming you’ll actually hit on one of these TE-late targets, even if you draft two of them…

& that’s assuming you won’t get sniped & will actually be able to draft the late-round TE’s you’re targeting…


Everyone wants to believe they’re going to find the next Mark Andrews or Darren Waller with a TE-late draft strategy.

But for every hit last year, there were 2-3 misses.

According to Sleeper’s ADP, Vance McDonald (75.1) & David Njoku (83.5) were going before Austin Hooper (95.4)

All of those guys, Delanie Walker (115.4), Eric Ebron (117.5), & TJ Hockenson (126.1) were going before Mark Andrews (142.1)

All of those guys, Trey Burton (152.4), & Kyle Rudolph (154.9) were going before Darren Waller (155.8)

Chris Herndon (157.3) & Jordan Reed (158) were also swing & misses at similar ADP’s.

Noah Fant (158.1) was the last “TE-late” target with an ADP below 276 & except for 2 games, he was a swing & miss as well.

That’s 13 TE’s who were taken in the “TE-late” range last year & each (minus maybe Rudolph) had a case for a legit break-out (or bounce-back) year.

We hit on 3 of them (!!)

~ 25% Hit Rate

We were just as likely to draft a Njoku/Herndon or McDonald/Burton stack as we were to end up with either Hooper, Andrews, or Waller.

Even if we assume we’re getting a Hooper, Andrews, and Waller-level breakout from 3 TE’s in each year’s batch (ambitious, at best), that means there’s going to be more fantasy teams who miss on the TE-late strategy than those who hit, and that’s assuming 2 of those 3 breakouts aren’t drafted by the same fantasy team.


By starting off your draft with a top-TE early, you give yourself more leeway to miss on your TE-late target (which ~75% of TE-late picks will), as well as the potential to corner the TE market if your TE-late target hits.

Imagine what you could have done with Travis Kelce & Mark Andrews on the trade market last year…

Or Kittle early & Waller late…

Here’s an anecdote of this very scenario which propelled me to a Championship & Total Points Title last year:

RB (Zeke) RD1
Kelce RD2
WR/RB/RB/WR next
2QB’s RD7/8
Andrews late.

By Week 4, I had a clear TE trade chip. Traded Andrews & Jarvis (my 6th RD pick at WR) to a TE-needy team for Chris Godwin (after Week 4), & the rest is history.

Drafting Lamar as my QB1 in that league also probably helped, but the point remains – I hit on TE-early & late, used one TE as a trade-chip & turned one of my mid-round WR’s into a stud, all while maintaining my advantages at RB & TE.

Similarly, my downfall in another league was drafting Hunter Henry RD5 & no second TE. When he went down I figured IR & dropped him. It left me scrambling at TE & in a position where I couldn’t refuse Dalvin Cook & Evan Engram (from an owner who also had Waller!!) for my CMC.

Engram got hurt a week after the trade (or at least it felt like it was only one week later) & my team struggled to fill the TE hole all year. Jacob Hollister (7 pts) was my starting TE in my Week 14 first-round exit.

In both situations, having multiple top-TE’s allowed incredible leverage on the trade market, particularly early in the year.

I’m sure teams who took Kittle early & Waller late last year can tell you similar stories about how they were able to exploit the situation…

Saturday, May 23, 2020

What It Looks Like If You Decrease The Chargers' Receiving Production Evenly Across The Board



We all know regression is coming for the Chargers.

Rivers passed for 4,615 yards last year.

Tyrod’s career high is 3,035 & Justin Herbert is a rookie.

Even the most generous estimates would peg the Chargers passing ceiling at ~ 3,800-4,000 yards in 2020.

4,615 to 4,000 represents a drop of ~ 13.5%
4,615 to 3,800 represents a drop of ~ 17.5%

Taylor/Herbert might be able to match Rivers’ 23 Passing TD’s, but for the sake of the exercise, TD’s have been reduced as well.

Here’s what it looks like if we apply that reduction evenly across the board for LA’s pass-catchers:


Keenan Allen

104/1199/6

-13.5%
89/1037/5

That drop would’ve taken Allen from WR6 in total points to WR19.

-17.5%
85/989/5

Would’ve taken Allen from WR6 in total points to WR22.


Mike Williams

49/1001/2

-13.5%
42/865/2

That drop would have taken Williams from WR41 to WR50 (& placed him just behind Danny Amendola)

-17.5%
40/825/2

Would’ve taken Williams from WR41 to WR52.


Hunter Henry

(16-game pace)
73/869/6

-13.5%
63/751/5

That drop would’ve taken Henry from TE8 in PPG to TE12 in PPG.

-17.5%
60/716/5

Henry still would’ve been TE12 in PPG.


Austin Ekeler

(For the sake of this exercise, we’ll keep Ekeler’s rushing stats the same)

92/993/8

-13.5%
79/858/7

That drop strictly in receiving production would’ve taken Ekeler from RB4 in total points to RB7 in total points.

-17.5%
75/819/6

Ekeler still would have been RB7 in total points.



As we can see, a dip in production spread out evenly is far worse news for Keenan Allen than it is for Austin Ekeler or Hunter Henry.

It’d take Allen from near-top-5 option to barely a WR2.

Henry would fall from mid-level starter to back-end starter.

& Ekeler would drop out of the top-5, but he’d still be top-8.


Of course, there’s a near-zero % chance that the receiving production actually dips completely evenly across the board. But this should give us a solid place to start & an idea of what a reduced offense would like, & then we can make our cases for target redistribution after that.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Making The Case For Kenyan Drake As a Top-5 (Top-3?) RB in 2020




            The case can be made for Kenyan Drake as not just a top-5 RB in 2020, but as a top-3 RB. He’s got every factor working in his favor.


Better w/ BAMA & MIA Than You Think
Near-Elite Athlete
Dual-Threat Weapon
Top O-Line/Scheme
D-Hop Helps
No Competition
Poor Defense

             Let's start with last year.

Kenyan Drake absolutely EXPLODED in Arizona to finish out 2019.

He was so hot he might have burst into flames if he stepped outside on a hot day in the Arizona desert...

Terrible jokes aside…

His 16-game pace with AZ:

246/1286/16 Rushing
56/342/0 Receiving

In Drake’s 8 games with the team, he was RB3, behind only CMC & Derrick Henry.

His 19.9 fantasy PPG would have ranked behind only CMC & Dalvin on the year.

He averaged 18.8 touches per-game (302 touch pace) & 5.2 YPC.

His 16-game pace of 1,286 rushing yards would have ranked 5th in the NFL.

& his 16-game pace of 56 receptions would have ranked 9th among RBs.

That pace would have made him just the 5th RB last season (along with CMC, Zeke, Fournette, & Cook) to have at least 1,100 rushing yards & 50+ receptions…

If you’re worried about why it took so long for this explosion to happen, don’t be.

It was only a matter of time.

Drake has been criminally hindered by a set of irregularly poor circumstances throughout his entire collegiate & professional career.

Let’s take a look back to where it all started:


2012: Alabama (FR)

Eddie Lacy was a junior who’d balled out & was entrenched as the starter. Can you blame Drake for being stuck behind him as a true freshman? Drake still made the most out of his 42 carries, gaining 6.7 YPC & 5 TD’s. That’s INCREDIBLE efficiency.

Season Splits:

Eddie Lacy (JR)
204/1322/6.5/17
22/189/2 Receiving

Yeldon (FR)
175/1108/6.3/12
11/131/1 Receiving

Drake (FR)
42/281/6.7/5 *
0 Receptions



2013: Alabama (SO)

As a sophomore, Drake played ahead of freshman phenom Derrick Henry, averaged a RIDICULOUS amount of yards per-carry again (7.5), & made plays in the receiving game too.

If you want to hold it against Drake for playing behind TJ Yeldon, hold it against Derrick Henry too.

Season Splits:

Yeldon (SO)
207/1235/6.0/14
20/180/0 Receiving

Drake (SO) 
92/694/7.5/8 *
12/135/1 Receiving

D Henry (FR)
35/382/10.9/3 (WTF bro)
1/61/1 Receiving



2014: Alabama (JR)

Drake only played in 5 games, missing 9 due to a fractured ankle, but he was EXPLOSIVE on his 27 offensive touches before he went down, taking them for 271 yards & 6 TD’s. Again, INCREDIBLE efficiency.

& Derrick Henry was still behind Yeldon (!!)

Season Splits:

Yeldon (JR)
194/979/5.0/11
15/180/1 Receiving

D Henry (SO)
172/990/5.8/11
5/133/2 Receiving

Drake (JR) (5 games) 
22/112/5.1/4
5/159/2 Receiving *



2015: Alabama (SR)

As a senior, Drake made the most out of his 77 carries & was also heavily involved in the receiving game.

Coming back from the past year’s injury, he ended up getting leapfrogged by the beast that is Derrick Henry, who had a historically great Heisman-winning season.

But can you really blame Drake for that?

He balled out when given the chance.

& he was also able to return from an arm injury (which occurred while making a tackle on special teams & cost him 2 games) to take a key 4th quarter kickoff in the National Championship back for a 95-yard touchdown. What a way to finish a college career.

Season Splits:

D Henry (JR)
395/2219/5.6/28 (Good Lord)
11/91/0 Receiving

Drake (SR)
77/408/5.3/1
29/276/1 Receiving *

D Harris (FR)
46/157/3.4/1
4/13/0 Receiving

B Scarbrough (FR)
18/104/5.8/1
0 Receptions



             Drake finished his Bama career with:

233/1495/6.4/18 Rushing
46/570/12.4/4 Receiving

INCREDIBLY EFFICIENT.

He averaged 6.4 YPC & didn’t have a single year with less than 5.1 YPC.

Despite that, it’s easy to see why he slipped to the 3rd round of the 2016 Draft amid concerns about his durability & unproven ability to handle a heavy workload.

Some players see more than the 279 touches Drake was given in college in just one season (Drake never had more than 92 carries in a single year) & the two injuries were a bit concerning.

But now that he’s played 4 full seasons in the NFL without missing a single game to injury & has maintained his incredible efficiency in a workhorse role with the Cardinals, can we start to put those worries to rest?

Drake’s been damn near unstoppable as a pro.


2016: Miami (Rookie Year)

Drake was drafted in Round 3 by the Dolphins to be second-year RB Jay Ajayi’s backup.

The Dolphins gave Drake 33 carries as a rookie, which he took for 179 yards & 2 TD’s (5.4 YPC). He also had 9 receptions for 56 yards.

Again, the stellar efficiency was there.



2017: Miami (Year 2)

Drake followed up a solid rookie year with oh you know just THE MOST EFFICIENT SEASON EVER recorded by PFF…

No biggie.

He took 133 carries for 644 yards & 3 TD’s (4.8 YPC) & gained 4.29 yards after-contact per-attempt (!!)

That’s right, Drake gained 571 of his 644 rushing yards AFTER contact in 2017.


You’d think that Drake had immediately become the guy once the Dolphins traded Ajayi to the Eagles after Week 8, but their brilliant coaching staff thought a committee approach with Damien Williams (who averaged 3.9 YPC that year) was a better idea…
It wasn’t until Week 12 when Damien was injured that the Dolphins coaching staff was forced to give Drake more touches. As some of you may remember, Drake went on a tear during that final stretch (averaging 105.2 yards from scrimmage in his six starts) & carried a lot of fantasy teams to the Championship Round (scoring 23+ fantasy points Weeks 13/14/15)…

He did this while on the Dolphins...



2018: Miami (Year 3)

After Drake averaged 5.0 YPC combined over his first two NFL seasons and BROKE THE PFF RECORD for most yards after-contact per-attempt in 2017, the coaching staff made the obvious decision of giving Drake even less carries in 2018…

Less than they gave 35-year old Frank Gore (156 carries) …

Drake took the spit in the face which was the 120 carries he was given & took them for 535 yards & 4 TD’s (4.5 YPC)

He also showed out as a receiver, taking 53 receptions for 477 yards (9.0 YPC) & 5 more TD’s.

That’s 1,012 yards & 9 total TD’s on less than 175 touches folks…

In a downtrodden Miami offense…



2019: Miami/Arizona (Year 4)

After showing incredible playmaking ability in college as well as his first 3 NFL seasons, and never averaging less than 4.5 YPC, you’d think 2019 would have been the year Miami finally decided to let Drake loose.

Instead, as the lone ranger on a Dolphins team that:

Traded Ryan Tannehill & acquired Josh Rosen.

Let Ja’Wuan James & Frank Gore leave.

Added nothing at WR to pair with Devante Parker.

Traded cornerstone left tackle Laremy Tunsil.

& went into the year with 4 new starting offensive lineman…

Drake was given more than 10 carries just once in the first seven weeks & was held out (with his name in trade talks) in Week 8 before being traded to the Cardinals pre-Week 9.

& we all know what happened after that...


              Drake went absolutely bazonkas in his first game with AZ – on a short week against SF at that!

He finished his first game with 15 carries for 110 yards, a TD, a successful 2-point conversion, & another 4 catches for 52 yards …

And from that point forward, Kliff Kingsbury seemed to realize what nobody in Miami ever seemed to grasp – maybe you should feed this guy the friggin ball.

Drake was given at least 10 carries in every single game as a Cardinal (including two games with 20+ carries) & he had at least 3 receptions in 6 out of 8 games.

Mind you, this was while coming over from a midseason trade & learning the playbook on the fly.  

Not only did Drake keep Chase Edmonds on the sidelines, but he kept David Johnson pretty much entirely off the field as well.

It was mentioned at the top, but deserves mentioning again: his 16-game pace would have made him just 1 of 5 RB’s (!!) last year to have over 1,100 rushing yards & 50+ receptions.


              Some may want to chalk up that success with the Cardinals as a “fluke” or “small sample size”, but all of the evidence suggests otherwise:

Efficiency Was Always Present, Volume Wasn’t
√ Near-Elite Athlete
√ Dual-Threat Weapon
√ Top O-Line/Scheme
√ D-Hop Helps
√ No Competition
√ Poor Defense

It’s all there.

All of it.



                 We already talked about the incredible efficiency at Bama & in Miami.

His combine performance only backs up the hype.

Drake’s 34.5” vertical & 123” broad jump are solid, but where Drake really stood out was in the 40 & shuttle drills.

His 4.45 40 puts him in the 91st percentile for RB’s.

His 4.21 shuttle was better than both CMC’s (4.22) & Saquon Barkley’s (4.24).

It’s clear on tape that Drake is fast, agile, and when he plants his foot & cuts, he can really get-up-and-go.

His combine numbers back that up.



√ Dual-Threat

Drake’s speed & agility make him especially dangerous as a receiving threat & a perfect fit for a Kliff Kingsbury offense that wants to air the ball out.

Drake’s shown on multiple occasions that he has 50+ catch upside & he had a 16-game pace of 56 receptions with the Cardinals last year.

This is particularly important when considering the fact that Derrick Henry was the only top-5 fantasy back last year to finish the season with less than 49 receptions.

Drake’s one of the few backs in the league who can heavily produce in both facets of the game.



√ Top-O-Line/Scheme

& Speaking of scheme fit.

How great of a scheme is it for RB’s?

Pretty. Friggin. Great…

We already talked about how much Kingsbury used Drake in the receiving game, now let’s talk about the running game.

Arizona was No. 1 (!!) in the NFL with 2.55 yards before contact per rushing attempt.

Number friggin 1…


With Drake, the mesh was even better. Drake averaged an ABSURD 3.2 yards BEFORE contact in his 8 games.

Is there some regression due there? Absolutely.

Regardless, we’re talking about a top-5 unit/scheme in terms of creating yardage before contact.

Arizona returns 4 starters on the offensive line (minus AQ Shipley) & drafted tackle Josh Jones in Round 3. 



√ D-Hop Helps

It’s even more impressive that Drake was able to find & create so much space last year, despite defenses having only him to focus on… other than old man Fitz & 2nd year Christian Kirk.

Adding DeAndre Hopkins should keep safeties out of the box & allow Drake to run even more freely this year.  

If the addition puts a dent in Drake’s target total, it shouldn’t be by much. At worst, Drake will be option 1B to Hopkins’ 1A, in an offense that looks like it’ll take steps forward as a whole.

Hop will get his, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of Drake.

In fact, it might even help.



                 Speaking of competition for touches – there really is none.

In Drake’s 8 games with AZ, the RB touch distribution was:

Drake: 151 touches (85%)
DJ: 24 touches (13.5%)
Edmonds: 2 touches (1.5%)

If Drake can command 85% of the RB touches in an offense with David Johnson & Chase Edmonds, we should peg his floor at 80% this year in an offense that just traded DJ & only brought in Eno Benjamin as a 7th round pick.

That’s workhorse status.




               By now, you’re probably wondering:

“Is this article done yet?”

Nope! Not quite…

Let’s talk about the Arizona defense!



                 The Arizona defense allowed the 5th most points in the NFL last season.

Only the Dolphins, Panthers, Giants, & Bucs allowed more points per-game.

They added Isaiah Simmons in the draft, but that was their only real addition.

                 

Simple Math: Bad Defense = Offense Needs to Score = Lots of Fantasy Fun



                     Make of his long-term value what you will, but ALL signs point to a MASSIVE 2020 for Kenyan Drake.

& there very easily could be a whole lot of meat left on that bone if Drake balls out in 2020 & gets an extension from the Cardinals.

Yes, I’ve heard, RB’s die the moment they turn 26, but Drake just turned 26 in January & has 4 full seasons left before he even goes into his age-30 season.

He has less combined touches in 4 years at Bama + 4 years in the NFL (879) than Jonathan Taylor has had the last 3 at Wisconsin (968).

There’s plenty of tread left on his tires & he’s in arguably the best situation for any RB in the entire NFL…

There is absolutely no reason Kenyan Drake can’t finish as a top-3 RB in 2020.