What are the Raiders doing?
I know I'm supposed to start these posts a little more professionally, maybe something like this: The Raiders made a surprising signing when they added former Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake to their backfield on Thursday. He agreed to a two-year deal worth as much as $14 million.
But seriously, what the heck are the Raiders doing?!?!
Let's go all the way back to 2019 when they drafted Josh Jacobs with a first-round pick. Seemed like a sure-fire stud running back at the time, and the Raiders utilized him as such with 20.2 touches per game and 1,316 total yards with seven scores. Those numbers really did not dip in 2020 -- 20.4 touches per game, 1,303 total yards and 12 scores.
However, Jacobs was less efficient in his second season -- his rushing and receiving averages dipped nearly by a full yard and he found over 100 total yards in just five games. His yards after contact per attempt ranked a disappointing 35th among qualifying rushers on Pro Football Focus, and just 17.6% of his rushing yardage came on breakaway runs.
Thank goodness for those 12 touchdowns to save his stat line.
And what will Drake bring to the felt in Las Vegas?
Oh, right. Drake hammered home 10 touchdowns last year for the Cardinals while losing his role in passing situations. By the end of the season, Drake was more of a battering ram than a finesse runner. He wasn't quite as good with contact as Jacobs (2.49 yards after contact per attempt), and he was only marginally better on breakaway runs (25.1% of his yards came on 15-plus-yard gains).
It's as if the Raiders added a replica of Jacobs to their backfield. A replica that's four years older and has 396 more career touches.
The only aspect that might make some sense is Drake's history as a receiving back. He has a couple of 50-catch campaigns. Perhaps Jon Gruden feels Drake can still contribute in that pass-centric role while also providing depth as a physical runner.
Nevermind that the Raiders still have Jalen Richard, whose role as a passing-downs back has been well defined for the past few years.
So does that make three running backs in the Raiders' backfield now? Great.
And nevermind that the Raiders traded center Rodney Hudson, guard Gabe Jackson and right tackle Trent Brown already this offseason. That's three-fifths of their O-line moving on and needing reliable replacements.
This isn't looking good.
Behind Jacobs' 20.4 touch average in 15 games last year, the other Raiders running backs scrounged for 10.1 touches per game, not including their fullbacks. You have to think Drake will push the backup touch average up a little bit, which means Jacobs' touches have room to dip. I don't think Jacobs is suddenly going to become a slug with eight carries a week, but his upside to evolve into a 1,500-yard back with as many scores as he had last season is history.
Jacobs should be viewed as a safe-but-not-spectacular No. 2 Fantasy running back who'll need touchdowns to retain his value. I'm OK taking him toward the Round 3/4 border, especially in non-PPR formats, but not sooner.
Drake enters the wonderful, mystical world of quality backup Fantasy running backs. He might snatch a handful of touches each week, maybe even 10 or 12 if things go his way, but he doesn't have the same upside as Tony Pollard, Alexander Mattison or even A.J. Dillon. If you're at pick No. 100 and Drake is still on the board, he's worth your selection.
However, it's the running back Drake used to roll with who could end up being a huge winner in all this. Back in Arizona, Chase Edmonds is poised to be the Cardinals lead running back.
Edmonds has never been given the lead role in the Cardinals offense for more than a game or two. He replaced David Johnson early on in a 2019 matchup at the Giants and turned 29 touches into 150 total yards and three scores, and he had a 25-carry start versus Miami last year that netted him 88 scoreless yards. He's had fewer than 11 carries or 14 touches in every single other game he's had in his pro career.
It would be a shocker if the Cardinals finish the offseason without a meaningful addition to their backfield, but if it somehow happens, Edmonds would catapult into a No. 2 Fantasy running back slot and potentially get taken near Jacobs in drafts, or perhaps before in PPR. But we're a long way from that.
Just like we're a long way from figuring out what the Raiders were thinking when they signed Drake.