What are Kenyan Drake and David Johnson's Fantasy Values after TNF? - Roto Street Journal
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What are Kenyan Drake and David Johnson’s Fantasy Values after TNF?

After his dazzling Cardinals debut against the NFC’s top defense, Kenyan Drake prompted me to tweet the unimaginable:

The 19 touches (4 rec), 162 tot. Yds, 1 TD for a whopping 26 FPs were indeed impressive.

But the fact Drake exploded to this degree, with a grand total of three days to learn an entirely new offense, emphasizes just how perfectly he fits Kliff Kingsbury’s “Air Raid” system.

At the same time, he’s also now the third RB to go off for high-end, RB1 workhorse value this season… and  David Johnson is expected back for Week 10 vs. the Bucs.

So…what is the fantasy fallout here?

Drake = Fantasy Starter Here on Out

We’ve long been believers in Drake’s own talent. He makes that easy, with high-end athleticism, impressive elusiveness, a knack for the big-play, and sneaky tackle-breaking abilities. More importantly for Kingsbury, Drake is a top-end pass catcher, capable of the entire route tree. He’s fantastic in space, and the versatile threat that can feast in this wide-open attack.

Yet, by now, fantasy owners should be well-aware that far more than just individual ability creates value. Chief among the key factors are Usage, Coaching Scheme, and Surrounding Talent, which have all been bottom-barrel for Drake in Miami Hell.

Fortunately, the Cardinals offer immediate upgrades in nearly every category. As mentioned, the scheme fits Drake’s talents like a glove, and anyone with a pulse can recognize the Cardinals have more explosive talent across the board.

Though TNF will likely be a season-high in touches, Drake showed the damage he can do in the space this offense affords. He’s, at minimum, a weekly flex play. Plus, with the injuries around him, Drake has a fair chance to lock down the lead-back role here, which would unlock weekly RB1 upside.

But what does this mean for David Johnson?

Indeed, it’s easy to spread gloom-and-doom here: The week-ruining 0.2 nightmare.  Edmonds and Drake’s impressive outings. The promise of a committee.

My advice? Buy Low.

Amidst the darkness, I find plenty of room for optimism.

Prior to his ankle injury, DJ had been the consummate workhorse. He notched 17+ touches, tons of receiving work, and 18+ PPR FPs in every game outside Week 2, where he left with a wrist scare. In fact, DJ hasn’t finished below RB12 in a single non-injured week.

After Drake’s impressive showing, the team has zero incentive to rush DJ back. If he’s on the field in Week 10 as expected, he should be at near-full strength.

Though I doubt DJ walks right back into his 20+ touch role, he should still be the lead back. I look at Weeks 5 & 6, where DJ and Edmonds both played roles, as the best indicator. Here, Edmonds emerged for 11 and 7 touches, racking up 17.6 and 14.7 FPs. Even still, DJ still posted 18.6 and 28.2 FPs on 20 and 18 touches.

Now, the workload could be a bit closer here, since Drake is a better talent than Edmonds.  Nonetheless, DJ and Drake are arguably the top-two weapons on this team. Similarly feeding them 30+ plays makes complete sense. Kingsbury himself suggested as much, noting:

“Having two guys that we feel like can be dominant players for us is exciting,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “With David back, you know you have two fresh running backs that are really good players.”

The nightmare would be a three-headed monstrosity once Edmonds returns. Thankfully, he’s expected to be “a few weeks away,” giving DJ and Drake plenty of time to strengthen their backfield grip before the Week 11 Bye. Edmonds is definitely the least likely to preserve a role and value, and is a viable cut at this point.

Summary: All Scenarios

1-back horse:

  • Drake completely takes over the backfield, forcing DJ into a rotational piece. Drake’s a ROS RB1, while DJ is a flex. (Unlikely)
  • DJ returns right into his 20+ touch role, while Drake is just a rotational piece. DJ remains a ROS Top-5 guy, while Drake is a flex piece. (Also unlikely).

2-back RBBC *Most Likely

  • DJ returns as the lead of a 60/40 split with Drake. The touches, and fantasy values, could also flip if Drake builds off his impressive showing and DJ is at less-than-100%. Both slide up and down between the low-end RB1, mid-RB2 scale (Most likely).

3-back RBBC

  • All three backs enter a three-headed, “hot-hand” nightmare where touches and values are impossible to project, rendering all three flexes-at-best. (Pray, god no, but medium likely).

Ultimately, if DJ’s owner is panicking and ready to sell for a WR2, BUY now. The upside remains astronomical, and the only bottom-out floor situation would be this becoming the three-headed torture chamber.

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