Just two weeks ago, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry was among the biggest disappointments of the 2018 fantasy football season. The 6’-3”, 247-pound running back failed to meet the lofty expectations placed upon him for the majority of the year. Through the first 14 weeks of the season, Henry never ran for more than 58 yards in a single game.
However, like any clutch performer, Henry has saved his best work for when it matters most: the fantasy playoffs. Over the past two weeks, the third-year running back has recorded 50 carries for 408 yards and six touchdowns. He’s carried more than a few teams to the fantasy football championship, and it’s time to continue the ride. Derrick Henry is poised to continue his success in Week 16, and fantasy owners should continue to let Henry carry them to a fantasy championship.
Fantasy Football: Let Derrick Henry Win You A Fantasy Championship
Expecting Derrick Henry to be the league-wide RB1 for a third straight week might be asking a lot. However, that’s not to say he still can’t be one of the top performers in your fantasy lineup. Regression is expected, but Henry should carry some version of this success into Week 16.
For one, Henry is clearly the best running back on the Titans roster. The numbers speak for themselves in this regard, as he’s averaging an absurd 8.16 yards per carry over the past two weeks. Fellow Titans running back Dion Lewis, meanwhile, is averaging just 2.82. Obviously, this isn’t to say Henry will run for 8.16 yards per carry in Week 16. However, it does show that Henry is vastly more efficient than Lewis at this point in time.
The Titans offense is at its’ best when Derrick Henry is on the field, and the coaching staff knows it. After receiving “just” 17 carries in his massive Week 14 showing, Tennessee made Henry the unquestioned workhorse in Week 15. Henry rewarded that faith by recording 170 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries for a healthy 5.2 yards per carry.
Tennesse cannot possibly take the ball away from Henry, considering how dominant he’s become over the past few weeks. At 8-6, the Titans find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt. They know Henry gives them the best chance to win, and Tennessee will continue to give Henry as many carries as possible.
Henry’s Safe Floor
Additionally, Henry’s running style is made for December football. As previously mentioned, Henry is an absolute monster of a human being, weighing in at 6’-3” and 247 pounds. He uses his massive build in the running game, plowing over opposing defenders in a homage to old-fashioned football.
This style naturally plays well later into the season. Fighting through a seasons’ worth of bangs and bruises, opposing defenders aren’t as capable of stopping a wrecking ball like Henry. While this theory sounds odd at first, the numbers back it up. Henry has played in 11 December games throughout his career. In those games, Henry averages 5.34 yards per carry. By comparison, his second-highest yards per carry is 4.90 in the month of November.
Even if Henry regresses to the player he was before, he still has a decent chance of falling into the endzone. Even when he was splitting carries with Dion Lewis, Henry was undeniably the Titans best goal line back. Prior to Week 15’s action (when he and Lewis were in a timeshare), Henry recorded 27 red zone rushing attempts. Lewis, meanwhile, recorded 21. While this is a fairly even carry distribution, Henry was significantly more effective. Lewis averaged just 1.76 yards per carry in the red zone and recorded just one touchdown. Henry, meanwhile, averaged 3.74 yards per carry and recorded seven touchdowns.
If you don’t trust a two-week sample of Henry being an all-around dominant back, you can trust a season-long sample of Henry clearly being the best red zone runner. He offers a high touchdown probability, which sets a safe fantasy floor even if he experiences a strong regression to the mean in Week 16.
Henry’s Favorable Matchup
As if that wasn’t enough, Henry also has a favorable matchup in Week 16. Tennessee gets to host a Washington Redskins team which doesn’t have anything going for it. Despite earning a win in Week 15, the Redskins are a vulnerable team that Tennessee should be able to exploit.
Over the past four weeks, the Redskins are allowing an average of 169 yards per game on the ground. When looking at just the last two games, this number jumps up to 200 yards per game. It’s hard to think of a team with worse injury luck than Washington, as the once-decent defense is no longer capable of stopping anything.
Additionally, there’s no need to worry about Henry being victim to the game script. Henry makes no impact in the passing game, so theoretically his impact could be minimized in a shootout. However, the Washington Redskins offense is physically incapable of partaking in a shootout.
Thanks to a series of injuries to the quarterback position, Washington is starting fourth-string quarterback Josh Johnson. Prior to this season, Johnson hadn’t thrown an NFL pass since 2011. The Redskins don’t have any explosive playmakers on the outside, so Washington has no way to hide their underwhelming passer.
It’s hard to imagine this game turning into a high-scoring affair with Johnson quarterbacking one of the teams. More than likely, this game will either a low-scoring, run-heavy game, or it will be a one-sided blowout in Tennessee’s favor. Either way, the game script should favor Henry and his physical, hard-nosed running.
Last Word on Derrick Henry
Anyone who drafted Derrick Henry and held on this long is about to be rewarded. The third-year running back frustrated owners throughout the majority of the season, but he’s about to win fantasy leagues of countless players around the world. Henry has been unstoppable over the past two weeks, and that shouldn’t change in Week 16. Expecting another league-wide RB1 performance might be asking too much, but he’s certainly poised for a big day.
After splitting time with Dion Lewis all season long, Henry is finally the workhorse back in the Titans backfield. Henry saw 50 carries over the past two weeks, including 33 in Week 15’s action. At 8-6, the Titans will need to turn to their most reliable and explosive offensive weapon, and that’s Henry.
Even if he reverts to his early-season self, he still gives you a safe floor. The Titans will feed him the rock early on, and he’s easily the best red zone running back on the roster. You don’t need to worry about him falling victim to the game script, as Josh Johnson won’t be engaging in any shootouts.
Every year, there’s a different player who dominates over the last few weeks of the season and becomes a legend. Last year, it was Todd Gurley. This year, it’s Derrick Henry. Don’t worry about regression to the mean; if you’re the Henry owner, let him carry you to the fantasy football championship.
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