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Kenyan Drake Trade: What it Means for Cardinals Running Backs in Fantasy Football

On Monday the Miami Dolphins added another draft pick to their growing stash. They traded Kenyan Drake to the ailing Arizona Cardinals for a Conditional 6th round pick in 2020. The Cardinals have been dealing with depth issues in their backfield starting with David Johnson 2 weeks ago suiting up and then not playing, signaling that the injury that kept him out of practice was more serious than originally thought. Chase Edmonds had a breakout game with Johnson on the sideline rushing for 126 yards and 3 Touchdowns.

Edmonds was a top waiver pickup and looked to be able to slide right into the starting role in Arizona, and then last week against the Saints Edmonds appeared to pull his hamstring and now is not expected to play for at least this week. The Cardinals were desperate for RB depth, so they felt that they had to make this move, especially with a Thursday night game quickly approaching. We learned the hard lesson as fantasy managers, again, that you can’t trust a head coach to be upfront about a player’s health, but you can’t blame them for not showing all their cards and keeping opponents guessing about what the game script will be. The biggest questions going forward now is how long will Johnson and Edmonds be out and when they come back? What impact will this have to the Cardinals Backfield?

Drake has shown that he can be an explosive player while he was in Miami. Last year he started 7 games for the Dolphins and was available in all 16. He played on 59% of the offensive snaps for the Dolphins last year and was able to rush for 535 yards and 4 Touchdowns and added 477 receiving yards and 5 Touchdowns. In space, Drake can be very dangerous for the defense to handle. He is a huge mismatch against linebackers, and in the Cardinals’ fast-paced offense he should get the opportunity to get into advantageous matchups.

I think that Drake is going to be a good fit for the Cardinals in the offense that Kingsbury is trying to run there. Drake can run between the tackles, he has the speed to get to the edge, he is a mismatch in the passing game, and he is an experienced player so he should be able to help block in the backfield as well. One of the other things that I think is going to help Drake is his ability to gain the extra yards after contact, last year he almost half of his rushing yards came after contact. I think that Drake has a real shot to impress his new team, but I’m not sure that he is going to be able to show it all off on Thursday night.

He will only have time for maybe 2 practices before they take the field on Thursday. On Wednesday Kingsbury said that there was a possibility that the Cardinals would have a running back by committee on Thursday, which doesn’t bode well for Drake taking most of the snaps this week. The 49ers also have the second-ranked defense this year so far which means that Drake and the Cardinals could have a hard time figuring out their new identity this week. Going forward I think that Drake is going to have a role in the offense. His speed and pass-catching abilities mean that he could line up in the slot and run routes on some plays for the Cardinals too.

For the rest of this season, I think that Drake is going to have a role as a potential flex candidate, but it will probably depend on how fast he can adjust to his new team. Looking beyond this year Drake is in the last year of his contract and has a chance to show off what he can do for a team the rest of this year. For dynasty, it’s hard to tell what value Drake will have until we see what he looks like the rest of this year. If he is available, I would be tempted to pick him to speculate on him. If he fits into the new Cardinals offense and shows that he can contribute, then he could slide into a Flex/ RB2 role which could be very valuable. There is also the chance that he plays well and can sign a free agent contract with another team that could open the door for his value to increase to the same level depending on the situation that he gets into, most likely as a pass-catching 3rd down role. Drake has always been an exciting talent with the ball in his hands, so hopefully, we will get a chance to see some of that explosiveness the rest of this year and into the future.

The other side of this trade is the talent that is already in Arizona’s backfield. David Johnson was a round 1 pick this year and was having a productive year before he was injured. After leaving the Giants game after 3 carries and looking very tentative it was clear that his ankle injury was more severe than we were led to believe. When he returns in the next few weeks most likely he will take the lead role in the offense back and should be able to finish the season producing for the ADP that he was taken at. When he returns to the field, I expect that he will resume his role as the primary back and should have plenty of work in the high pace offense to be an RB1 the rest of the season barring an injury setback.

When Johnson left the Giants game, Chase Edmonds took the backfield over and he exploded. Edmonds went off for 3 Touchdowns and 126 yards and was the surprise of the week for everyone. Edmonds looked like he was capable of being the lead back in Arizona while Johnson was gone. There was a lot of hype that Edmonds was going to be able to be a big player in the coming weeks for the Cardinals and there was even some conversation that he looked like he fit into the system so well that he was going to take some of the work away from Johnson when he got back from injury if he kept his play at a high level.

Unfortunately, Edmonds pulled his hamstring in the very next game against the Saints and we were not able to see if he could keep it up. This is part of what forced the Cardinals to make the trade for Drake. Edmonds is a good back and I think when he returns, he will still have a similar role to the one he had before. I think he showed that he knows the offense and can help it be successful, but it was only for 1 full game.

If Drake can come in and perform right away, I could see Drake and Edmonds splitting reps. Right now, it looks like Drake is going to get his shot on Thursday night to show what he can do for this team. Next week there is a good possibility that Johnson is going to return to the starting role, and I think that Drake is going to play as the relief to Johnson and possibly go in on some 3rd down work. Edmonds will probably be out at least another 2 weeks with his hamstring injury, so this window is going to be Drake’s prime opportunity to show on the field if he was worth trading for. I look forward to seeing what he can produce!

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