The Fantasy Spotlight 2017 Player Preview series focuses on players primed to make a fantasy impact in 2017. This week we focus on Tennessee Titans second year running back and former Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry.
Fantasy Spotlight 2017 Player Preview: Derrick Henry
2016 NFL Draft
Despite the Titans signing veteran running back DeMarco Murray during the 2016 offseason, they still drafted Henry in the second round of the NFL Draft. With Murray approaching 30 years old, Tennessee could not pass up on drafting their running back of the future. Henry was coming off a Heisman Trophy season that saw him run for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns for the Alabama Crimson Tide. The then 21-year-old rookie entered the 2016 season as the Titans number two running back.
Titans fans got a quick glimpse of Henry’s ability week one. In the game against the Minnesota Vikings, Henry carried the ball three times and caught two passes for 44 total yards. According to playerprofiler.com, Henry showed great elusiveness breaking six tackles despite his limited carries. His first real breakout performance came October 27 during a week eight game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Henry scored his first career touchdown, a six yard red zone carry (one of nine red zone carries) during the Titans 36-22 win. He would finish the game with 60 yards on 16 carries and four catches for 37 yards. The rookie’s workload would increase gradually during the last five weeks of the season. During that time Henry averaged nearly 5.5 yards per touch (48 touches for 268 yards) and scored four touchdowns. The soon to be second year back also showed great poise protecting the ball with zero fumbles during his rookie season. His finished his first year in the NFL with 110 carries for 490 yards and five touchdowns. He added 13 catches for 137 yards.
With DeMarco Murray another year older, look for Henry to take on a bigger role in the Titans offense. With his big, powerful frame, Henry should take on a particularly increased role in the red zone. During his rookie season, 22 of his 110 carries were inside the 20, with that number slated to rise in 2017. Quarterback Marcus Mariota enters next season coming off a fractured fibula suffered in week 16 against the Jaguars. While Mariota is expected to be fully ready for the start of the season, the Titans may look to take a little pressure of their star quarterback by giving Murray and Henry more touches.
You will be able to get Henry as a mid-late round draft pick in all fantasy formats. If you draft DeMarco Murray, drafting Henry is a must. Having Henry as a handcuff will certainly solidify your fantasy backfield. With the expected increase in red zone touches the Fantasy Spotlight projects Henry to rush for 885 yards and nine touchdowns. By chance Murray gets injured, Henry’s value will only skyrocket.