Do Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage Offer Fantasy Football Value in 2019?

Sep 01, 2019 11:25 AM EDT

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kenyan Drake

  • The Miami Dolphins aren't expected to be very good, but could Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage still provide fantasy football value?
  • Ian Hartitz analyzes whether one (or both) running backs could be worth drafting.

We’re in the thick of the NFL offseason and it’s officially time to start fantasy football prep. I’ll be answering the biggest questions heading into the 2019 season; this is part of that series.

The 2019 Miami Dolphins aren’t expected to be very good. Their new coaching staff is largely made up of former Patriots assistants who are equipped with a roster that hasn’t had a long-term view in mind for awhile.

Betting odds for post-draft win totals appropriately gave the Dolphins a league-low over/under of just five wins (along with the Cardinals).

There are plenty of questions under center regarding the effectiveness and long-term viability of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen. Still, each quarterback has plenty of speed at every skill position, and the offense could benefit from a heightened pace of play. The Dolphins ranked 31st, 29th and 31st in situation neutral pace over the past three seasons while the Patriots ranked first, second and sixth.

Miami’s wide receiver depth chart is a bit too jumbled for my liking. However, the same can’t be said for the running back room.

Below we’ll analyze Kenyan Drake’s and Kalen Ballage’s outlooks in an effort to determine their 2019 fantasy football value.

Expect Dolphins to Utilize a Running Back Committee

New Dolphins offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea served as the Patriots wide receiver coach from 2009 to 2018. We accordingly don’t have any history of O’Shea calling plays himself, but it would make sense if his offense winds up resembling what he’s seen everyday at practice for the past decade.

The defining characteristic of Patriots offenses over the years has been Bill Belichick and Co.’s maddening insistence on regularly utilizing a multi-back committee backfield. That’s caused occasional headaches for fantasy owners, but the idea that you shouldn’t target New England running backs in fantasy football simply hasn’t been true.

Patriots RBs PPR Points Per Game

  • 2009:  PPR RB37, RB48
  • 2010: RB23, RB47
  • 2011: RB37, RB66
  • 2012: RB20, RB32
  • 2013: RB8, RB41
  • 2014: RB31, RB36
  • 2015: RB5, RB39
  • 2016: RB15, RB37
  • 2017: RB18, RB19
  • 2018: RB10, RB36

Enhanced goal-line opportunity in one of the league’s perennial highest-scoring offenses partially explains the general success of Patriots running backs. The other part of the explanation is New England’s tendency to heavily involve running backs in the passing game.

The Dolphins’ 2019 ceiling is likely as an underrated and fun offense that participates in a few high-scoring shootouts thanks to its potentially dreadful defense. This reality could help elevate Drake’s fantasy football value considering his ability to dice up defenses as a rusher and receiver.

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