Derrick Henry is a beast. He is a unique combination of size and speed that the NFL has never seen. I think the closest we have come was the monstrous running back from the Kansas City Chiefs named Christian Okoye. Okoye who was dubbed, “The Nigerian Nightmare” was actually a fullback and was listed as 6’1” and 253 pounds. His best year was 1989 when he had 1480 yards and 12 touchdowns. The comparison to Okoye really ends there because this is a very different time in the NFL and Henry really is a different type of back.
Henry is listed as 6’3” and 247 pounds but some reports have had him weighing more but his speed is remarkable considering his size. He also has decent hands which he showed off last year when filling in for an ailing and tired Demarco Murray. Having said all that, Henry is a questionable running back in Fantasy Football circles this year. In reviewing some game film from last year, everyone knows that Henry prefers to bounce most runs to the outside and use his size and speed to crush opposing DB’s but when he goes up the middle with a head of steam, he is deadly. (Cue every Titans fan favorite clip here: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000846337/Derrick-Henry-breaks-tackles-rushes-for-17-yard-TD )
The challenge for Matt LaFleur and running backs coach, Tony Dews, is to show Henry why it’s important to run the play as designed. I am not advocating for him to run directly into the line when no hole is open. I encourage him to bounce when the line gets beat but please don’t bounce before the line gets that hole open. Henry needs to acquire some patience ala Le’VeonBell. When you watch Bell after the handoff, he really takes his time assessing the blocks in front of him. If Henry is able to be taught or simply believe the line will open the hole, he could be a fantasy force. If he tries to repeat his runs from last year, he could be a fantasy frustration.
Fantasy Football team owners hate the unpredictability of players. That is why you see the unquestioned producers come off the board early in the drafts. Henry is one of those guys who win you a match up one week with a crazy explosive performance then the following week he lays an egg. Remember Titan fans, we are talking Fantasy Football not real life. In real life when Henry struggles, I believe we will see Dion Lewis step up or if the opposing team is stacking the box, Marcus will step up and win with his arm. Unless you own and start Mariota and Lewis those weeks, you won’t care in Fantasy Football when that happens.
With all that being said, the “experts” have deemed that Henry is around a top 20 running back in Fantasy. Mock drafts are showing that Henry’s average pick is round 2, pick 12. That is a very rich pick with his unpredictability. If you are taking Henry as the second player drafted on your team, you are really banking on a huge year that could happen but I think it is more likely that he is a solid fantasy performer but he doesn’t rate that high of a selection.
In my drafts, I will probably miss out on drafting Henry because I see him as a borderline RB2 but likely a RB3 on your team. If Henry is sitting there in round 4, I will grab him but you know someone is going to take him higher.
PROJECTED STATS: 16 games, 1025 yards rushing, 15 receptions for 175 yards, 9 TD’s (all rushing)