I think Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock have it out for Josh Jacobs. They obliterated their offensive line, ditching Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown, and Gabe Jackson. They released Richie Incognito, only to re-sign him. That’s 60% of Josh Jacobs’ offensive line… gone. And then. And then, on top of it all, the Raiders signed Kenyan Drake to a two-year, $11 million contract. What the h*ck are the Raiders doing here? What is their deal? How does the Drake signing change things for fantasy football in 2021 in Arizona and Las Vegas?
First, let’s talk about Arizona. As of right now, the depth chart is Chase Edmonds and Eno Benjamin. I stress as of right now. Todd Gurley, Duke Johnson, Matt Breida, Leonard Fournette, and James Conner could all come rolling into town to ruin Edmonds’ day. The Cardinals also have seven picks with which to do their work, and could easily snag a second, third, or fourth-round wide receiver who will gum up the works for Edmonds. Javonte Williams feels like the easy fit here. But what about Chase Edmonds?
First, let’s look at a fact you probably overlooked: Chase Edmonds ranked eighth last season in targets. Yeah, that Chase Edmonds. He ended the year one behind David Montgomery, with 67 targets. It wasn’t a “no Kenyan Drake” or “one big game” deal, either. Edmonds had multiple targets in every single game last season and topped four targets in eight games. This should hopefully remain a part of his game in 2021, giving him some PPR league depth appeal no matter who else ends up in Arizona.
Outside of that, Chase Edmonds does not have much appeal as a traditional running back. He had over ten rushes twice last year and ended with 47 yards on 11 rushes, and 70 yards on 25 rushes. That speaks to some real diminishing returns from Edmonds as an every-down banger. But, should the Cardinals with their addition of “””Pro Bowl Wide Receiver””” A.J. Green take a step forward offensively, this should mean more opportunity in the short side of a platoon (ideally) for Edmonds. No matter what happens, I’m not interested in Edmonds as anything better than an RB3, even if they don’t add anyone.
Now, for Kenyan Drake to the Raiders. I sort of understand what Gruden and Mayock are doing by adding Drake, but on a more realistic level… I don’t. Kenyan Drake is a good addition to a roster as a 1B, provided your 1A isn’t a young, first-round pick who is entering his third year in the league with 2,600 yards already under his belt (while averaging over 20 touches per game each season). It also doesn’t make sense when your young running back added a new aspect to his game last season, averaging over two catches for 16 yards per game. Adding Kenyan Drake to the Raiders’ roster feels like stacking a lot of overlapping skills. That means it likely heads to the dreaded ~hot hand~ approach at running back.
The hot hand approach with two backs who don’t have a big distinction, talent-wise, usually ends up with fantasy managers with more headaches than fist pumps. It’s doubly awful to prognosticate what might happen because Kenyan Drake says he signed with Las Vegas because they want him to be a “playmaker.” One interesting quote from that Drake article is that the Raiders will have him playing receiver. If you remember, they drafted WR/RB hybrid Lynn Bowden last season, before trading him to Miami when things didn’t work out. It’s entirely possible that Drake signed to take that role in the Raiders’ offense. Drake had just 31 targets last season but notched 68 and 73 the two seasons prior, so it’s inside his bag of tricks.
What about for fantasy football purposes? Well, I’m not going to be paying up for Josh Jacobs, that’s for sure. He falls back into the upside RB2 range, waters I’m not likely to trawl in 2021. I will, however, take a flier on Kenyan Drake, depending on the price point. If he’s around in the eighth round, it’s worth a shot. After all, my mantra in undefined backfields is to just take the cheapest guy to see how things sort out.
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