Why I’m Drafting Derrick Henry & Holding on for Dear Life
Who is the most polarizing player in fantasy football? Corey Davis? Baker Mayfield? Lamar Jackson? In my opinion, the most polarizing player in fantasy football is Derrick Henry.
I’m going to take you through Derrick Henry’s NCAA and NFL career just to remind you of the journey we have been on.
After that, I will break down why he will explode onto the scene this year and remind those that he is an elite workhorse RB.
Henry’s freshman year he had to compete for snaps with Kenyan Drake and T.J. Yeldon. Drake was the lead running back followed by Yeldon with Henry as the third string. Finishing the year with 443 scrimmage yards on 36 touches & four touchdowns.
During Henry’s sophomore year, Yeldon and Henry formed a dynamic duo combining for over 2000 scrimmage yards. Henry finishing the year with 1,123 scrimmage yards on 177 touches & 13 touchdowns.
After Henry’s sophomore season, Yeldon entered the NFL draft leaving Henry as the lead back in Alabama’s backfield. Henry knew that this was going to be his big opportunity and he had to make to most of it.
Henry burst onto the scene his junior season. He was the driving force to the Crimson Tide’s 2015 National Championship run. Finishing the season with 2,219 rushing yards & 28 rushing touchdowns, breaking Hershel Walker’s SEC rushing record.
Henry won the prestigious Heisman Trophy after the season, barely edging out 2nd place finisher, Christian McCaffrey. After his junior season Henry declared for the NFL Draft.
The Tennessee Titans drafted him in the 2016 NFL Draft with their 2nd round selection, instantly forming the scariest running back duo with running mate Demarco Murray. Henry is known for his bruising running style. He is easily the biggest running back in the NFL standing at 6′ 3″ 247 lbs.
Coming into his rookie season in the NFL, his ADP in rookie draft was 1.05. Fantasy owners expect a lot coming from their first round selections. Finishing with 627 scrimmage yards on 123 touches and five touchdowns, his rookie season many owners considered a dud.
His second season he was still the backup behind Demarco Murray, but, after hearing the outcries from the fantasy community, the Titans finally decided to increase his touches from 8.2 his rookie season to 11.6. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but 2.5 more touches a game adds up over a 16 game season. Finishing his second season with 880 scrimmage yards on 187 touches with six touchdowns. Every statistical category improved compared to his rookie season.
After the 2017 season, the Titans decided to let Murray go as a free-agent, opening the door for Henry to take over the backfield. Everybody with a share of Henry rejoiced. It was finally his chance to show off his skills as a lead back, or so we thought.
Then, the Titans decided the bring in Dion Lewis via free agency. Lew is a running back that a season before had over 1000 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns. Needless to say, the fantasy community was bummed out.
Henry still had his chance to shine, starting 12 games after only starting four combined his first two years. His touches increased for the third consecutive season to 230, finishing the year with, 1,158 scrimmage yards on 230 touches & 12 touchdowns.
As you can see he was a dominant player in college and has never really had his opportunity in the NFL. He has always had to compete with another player for touches whether its Murray or Lewis, but I will tell you why I think the Titans learned their lesson and will start giving Henry 20+ touches a game.
Same Old Same Old or What?
Yes, we have heard season after season that the Titans learned their lesson and will force feed Henry touches. Will they actually stay true to their word and use Henry like the workhorse back he is?
I think so, yes. When the Titans were on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs they finally turned to their #1 offensive asset. During the last five week’s of the season, Henry proved he is a 3-down running back, finishing off those five weeks with 625 rushing yards on 87 carries, which equates to an insane 7.1 YPC.
All off-season, we have heard coach speak stating that Derrick Henry will be the focus of their offensive scheme. New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has been salivating over his new toy all off-season, recently stating:
“Derrick is going to be a big part of our offense. Derrick has a rare skill set. He’s one of the few guys that’s a home run hitter. We’re taking another step hopefully with him. What he did the last five weeks will open up a lot of things,”
Derrick Henry Stud or Dud?
Like I said earlier, the Titans have said the past two off-seasons that they are going to feed Henry the ball so why is this one different? Smith has repeatedly said that the Titans are going to be an extremely run-heavy team and are going to be looking to pound the rock.
The Titans have one of the biggest, and best, offensive lines in the NFL. Henry didn’t really need their blocking last season after leading the league in yards after contact with 2.9 yards. Combine that with the fact that he finished second in total yards after contact, with 612 yards, shows that he is being underutilized.
The only thing that scares me about Henry entering this season is the fact that he is going to be running is stacked boxes the majority of the time. Henry will need Mariota to take the pressure off him with RPO’s and make enough throws to test opposing defenses.
All in all, I think Derrick Henry will be a strong RB2 this season. If you can get him in round 4 or 5 that is a huge win. Even if you go the deep RB route and get WRs the first 3 or 4 rounds, Henry is the perfect RB to target.
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