Kenyan Drake was traded to the Arizona Cardinals midway through the 2019 season, and he immediately stepped in as the team’s lead RB. So what can we expect from Kenyan Drake in 2020 with David Johnson is no longer in tow, and Drake having been slapped with the transition tag.
Let’s dive into what we can expect from Drake next season now that he’s been given full reign over Arizona’s backfield.
A quick primer on the “transition tag” since it’s not commonly used: The tag gives Arizona the right to match any offer Drake may receive from another team. It all but guarantees Drake will be on the Cardinals in 2020 — something made even more likely after David Johnson was traded — so this article is written assuming Drake will be in Arizona.
Recap of Kenyan Drake’s 2019 resurgence
After withering under Adam Gase from 2016-2018, and then gaining traction with Brian Flores in 2019, Drake was shipped to the Cardinals midway through the 2019 season.
He immediately shined when given legit opportunity.
Over the second half of last year (Weeks 9-17), Drake was phenomenal both in terms of opportunity and actual production:
- 7th in snaps
- 10th in expected points
- 4th in actual points
He had three absurd games (Weeks 9, 15, 16), three games as a fantasy RB2, and two games as an RB3+. The pop-off games came in Weeks 15 and 16, meaning Drake single-handedly won some people fantasy championships.
Now the truly unquestioned RB1 in Arizona
After joining Arizona last year, Drake led the team’s backfield in snaps every single week from Weeks 9-17, per our Player Usage App.
As you can see in the chart above, David Johnson was Drake’s biggest threat to touches down the stretch. However, after Johnson was shipped to Houston in exchange for DeAndre Hopkins — a move which has its own massive fantasy implications in Arizona — seemingly leaving the backfield solely to Drake.
From Weeks 9-17, here’s how Drake and Johnson compared to one another in key categories:
- Snaps: Drake 79% vs. Johnson 26%
- Targets: Drake 14% vs. Johnson 3%
- Attempts: Drake 61% vs. Johnson 11%
As you can see, while Johnson siphoned a decent amount of snaps away from Drake, he wasn’t an actual threat to touches. However, while Drake’s target and attempt shares were solid, they have room for improvement.
While there was little doubt that Johnson had lost his “it” factor in 2019, there were lingering questions as to whether or not some under-the-radar injuries were plaguing Johnson, and if a full offseason of rest would lead to a significant improvement for the former stud RB in 2020. But with Johnson now in Houston, those questions are now irrelevant for Drake’s fantasy outlook.
Chase Edmonds steps up as the new change of pace back in Arizona, replacing Johnson. Edmonds can reasonably be expected to take up the 6-8% opportunity market share Johnson held from Weeks 9-17, but Drake could see a little bit more third-down work. Overall, Edmonds isn’t a threat to Drake, just like Johnson wasn’t a threat down the stretch.
Kenyan Drake: 2020 fantasy RB1?
The Cardinals have a lethal offense with Kyler Murray entering Year 2, Christian Kirk entering Year 3, and arguably the best WR in the league — DeAndre Hopkins — joining a squad that already features old-but-still-good Larry Fitzgerald. With the electric Drake in the backfield and a fast-paced playbook to draw from, this squad could light up the scoreboard in real life and in fantasy.
All signs point to Drake putting up top-10 fantasy numbers in 2020.