Kenyan Drake enters this season as the expected starting running back for the Dolphins. He will share touches with Frank Gore and potentially rookie Kalen Ballage, but Drake showed in 2017 that he could be a featured back once Miami traded Jay Ajayi to the Eagles prior to Week 9. In the final nine games of the season without Ajayi, Drake had 123 carries for 619 yards (5.03 yards per carry) and three touchdowns and 29 catches for 232 yards and one touchdown. He scored at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league in seven of those nine outings, including four games with double digits in points. Drake had at least 17 touches in four of his final five games, and hopefully that's the workload he gets this season. Gore will definitely take away touches, but Drake projects as a No. 2 Fantasy running back heading into training camp. He's worth drafting no later than Round 4 in the majority of leagues.
Drake rushed three times for 16 yards and secured his only target for seven yards in the Dolphins' 26-24 preseason loss to the Buccaneers on Thursday. Listed as a co-starter alongside the venerable Frank Gore on the initial iteration of the depth chart, Drake had the first-team reps to himself with the veteran predictably sitting out the exhibition opener. The third-year back logged all three of his carries in consecutive fashion on the team's opening series, a drive in which he received all four of his touches. Despite presently sharing the top of the depth chart with Gore, Drake projects to enjoy at least a slim majority in terms of carries during the coming season. He'll look to build on Thursday's effort against the Panthers a week from Friday during the Dolphins' second exhibition tilt.
The Dolphins' posted depth chart lists Drake and Frank Gore as co-starters. Meanwhile, the duo is followed on the chart by Senorise Perry and rookie Kalen Ballage. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald relays that coach Adam Gase isn't especially concerned with how his backfield is mapped out at least on paper, while acknowledging that both Drake and Gore will see their share of touches this season. That said, the elusive Drake's youth and strong finish to the 2017 campaign presumably give him the leg up on Gore, who keeps chugging away at age 35. Though it's hard to imagine Gore completely overtaking Drake in advance of Week 1, so far this summer the veteran has looked good and his steady presence could at a minimum threaten Drake's volume, and in turn his fantasy ceiling.
Drake relayed Friday that he has added five or 10 pounds since the 2017 season ended, the Palm Beach Post reports. "So I'm about 215 right now," Drake noted. "I know as I run around I'll probably lose that weight. But maintaining it is definitely something I want to do. Get to that weight to begin with, sustain it during the offseason program. Then when training camp hits, I might lose five pounds, but I'll still be at an optimal weight for the season." While we won't read too much into Drake's modest weight gain, his comments support the notion that he's prepping himself for a large workload this coming season. The 24-year-old had 133 carries for 644 yards and 32 catches for 239 yards (four TDs) last year, with the bulk of that production coming in December as he eventually moved into a high-volume role following the trade of Jay Ajayi to the Eagles. The Dolphins added steady veteran Frank Gore instead of re-signing Damien Williams (Chiefs), but the more explosive Drake still figures to lead the way in Miami's 2018 backfield.
Drake will be joined in the backfield by Frank Gore, who is signing a one-year contract with the Dolphins, Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald reports. Given that the Dolphins were rumored to have interest in trading for C.J. Anderson, the addition of Gore isn't necessarily a bad thing for Drake's 2018 outlook. The durable veteran turns 35 in May, coming off three straight seasons in Indianapolis averaging less than 3.9 yards per carry. While he'll have a role in the offense, Gore doesn't figure to challenge Drake for the lead job, after the 2016 third-round pick closed out last season with 91 carries for 444 yards (4.9 average) and 17 catches for 150 yards over the final five weeks.
Drake rushed 14 times for 75 yards and brought in all three of his targets for 15 yards in Sunday's 22-16 loss to the Bills. He was ultimately ejected from the game with 6:16 remaining in the fourth quarter due to his part in a fight following a Jarvis Landry one-yard touchdown. Drake was enjoying his fifth consecutive productive effort as a starter before getting embroiled in a post-play scuffle following Landry's score. The second-year running back was eventually pinned to the ground by defensive end Ryan Davis before managing to get back to his feet and heaving the latter's helmet toward the sideline. The entirety of his actions earned him an ejection, but despite the unsightly end to his season, there's plenty of reason for optimism heading into 2018. Drake logged a pair of 100-yard rushing efforts and 444 rushing yards over his five-game stint as a clear-cut lead back to wrap up the season, and his steady presence in the passing game only serves to further his fantasy stock, particularly in keeper and dynasty formats.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/16||@New York Jets||24||18.50|
|4||09/30||@New England Patriots||17||17.47|
|9||11/04||New York Jets||24||18.50|
|10||11/11||@Green Bay Packers||16||17.38|
|14||12/09||New England Patriots||17||17.47|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||83||412||2||20||142||0||65|