2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Can Kenyan Drake's foot injury open opportunity for Kalen Ballage?
Training camp hasn’t quite gone the way Kenyan Drake or his supporters wanted, and the latest hit came Wednesday as Drake was spotted in a walking boot during practice. Dolphins coach Brian Flores told reporters afterward that Drake is dealing with a foot injury and will miss some time:
The good news, if you want to find it, is that Flores also said the team is hopeful Drake will be ready for Week 1, a sentiment Drake shared as well. However, with Fantasy draft season beginning to heat up, Drake has to be tumbling down draft boards. The only question is, how far?
Coming into camp, you could make a realistic case for Drake as a top-15 option at running back. After all, he finished 14th in PPR scoring last season, and with Adam Gase gone, the potential for more consistent work was there.
And then Kalen Ballage started getting work with the first team, which caused Drake’s ADP to drop to 55th overall, as the No. 26 running back off the board. In light of this news, how far should he fall — and how high should Ballage rise?
Heath Cummings has always been most bullish on Drake’s potential among our analysts, and he’s only dropping Drake to around where his ADP has been; 26th in PPR, 30th in non-PPR. Dave Richard is dropping Drake to 31st in both formats, while Jamey moved him to 33rd in non-PPR and 31st in PPR.
Personally, I think he’s going to go even later than that in drafts over the next week or so – however long he’s in that boot. That presents an opportunity for profit if you believe Drake is the most talented back in Miami and will still end up seeing the majority of the touches in that backfield. If he really is ready for Week 1, that could turn into a fantastic pick in the sixth/seventh round range.
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Or, this is a fantastic opportunity for Ballage, who has already been rising up draft boards with promising reports out of camp. Ballage looked good at the end of his rookie season, rushing for 123 yards on 12 carries in Week 15 and totaling 218 yards over the final three games as he saw his usage rise.
Ballage will be the starting running back as long as Drake is out, but he might have been forcing his way into that before the injury. He has been working extensively with the first-team offense ahead of Drake, and figures to profile better as the running-downs back. Ballage is 228 pounds but still managed to run a 4.46 40-yard dash, though he also showed the ability to make plays through the air in college as well.
Even before the injury, Drake was struggling to take advantage of an opportunity to grab a full-time role. Last season, we assumed Adam Gase’s reticence to rely on Drake was one of Gase’s quirks, but with an all-new coaching staff looking unwilling to make him an every-down back, maybe that just isn’t in his future.
It certainly isn’t in his short-term future. And if Ballage continues to impress in camp and the preseason while Drake is out, that time share could continue moving his way. If you can still get him outside of the top-100 picks in drafts, Ballage is starting to look like a great value. For the time being, Drake should still go ahead Ballage, but they’re getting closer everyday.