One ESPN fantasy football expert has named Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry as a fantasy football sleeper.
After the kind of finish to the season Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry had in 2018, he should be considered anything but a fantasy football sleeper in 2019.
Henry lit up opposing defenses to the tune of 585 yards and seven touchdowns in his last four games. An insane 238 yards and four touchdowns of that total production came in one game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14.
However, one fantasy expert, ESPN’s Andre Snelling, is still calling Henry a fantasy football sleeper for this upcoming season despite his legendary, league-winning four-game run.
"Henry was well on his way to a bust season in 2018, splitting time ineffectively with Dion Lewis, who saw a lot of the field in passing situations. Through 12 games, Henry was averaging only 10.7 rushing attempts for 39.5 yards (3.7 YPC) and 0.4 touchdowns. That all changed during the last quarter of the season, during which Henry averaged 21.8 attempts for 146.3 yards (6.7 YPC) and 1.8 touchdowns over the last four games. Henry is an old-school, pounding running back who needs bunches of touches to be effective, and the Titans seemed to recognize that down the stretch."
Snelling makes a good point about Henry’s usage. Early on in 2018, it seemed as though the Titans were hellbent on Henry and fellow back Dion Lewis splitting carries, with Lewis coming out on top with a superior amount of carries and touches in many games.
In fact, Lewis saw double-digit carries in eight of 16 games last season, which was surprising for a back who was thought to be primarily a third-down, pass-catching back. At most, we figured he’d be a secondary ball carrier to the more traditional pounder in Henry.
But things are about to change in a big way.
Why you should be bullish on Derrick Henry
As Snellings also pointed out in his write-up, both head coach Mike Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson have hinted that Henry will see more carries than a year ago.
To take it a step further, new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has even talked positively about Henry, saying that the Titans “hope to build on that” in reference to what he did at the end of last season.
So it would seem there will be a change in the way things are done, with Henry receiving the vast majority of work on the ground. Add in the fact that the Titans should have a run-first offense and this situation has all the makings of a heavy workload for Henry.
The Titans weren’t satisfied with what was lackluster offensive line play last season, so the team has revamped the offensive front with the free-agent acquisition of left guard Rodger Saffold.
The return of right guard Kevin Pamphile, who played in just three games last season, will also be a boost. If Pamphile can’t get the job done, the Titans have third-round pick Nate Davis waiting in the wings, and the rookie could even win the starting job outright in training camp.
There is a lot to be excited about if you’re targeting Henry in your fantasy draft. At worst, Henry will be an RB2 as long as he gets the number of carries—we’d pencil him in for 15 or so per game—and goal line opportunities we think he will, but he certainly has RB1 potential written all over him.
With running backs being as highly valued as they are in fantasy, it’s safe to assume Henry will be off the board in a 12-team league by late in the second round. The Alabama product will be a breakout star in 2019, so don’t wait too long to nab him.