As far as fantasy football is concerned, the tight end landscape is a desolate wasteland. Once you get past Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz, every tight end available comes with some significant question marks. Because of this, fantasy football owners may want to swing for the fences with a high-upside pick like Hunter Henry. Is Henry worth the risk, or is it better to wait and stream the position?
Fantasy Football Outlook: Hunter Henry
2018 was supposed to be Hunter Henry’s breakout season. The former second-round pick was ridiculously efficient in short samples and he no longer had to live in Antonio Gates’ shadow. Given an opportunity to star in the Chargers’ offense, Henry was a safe bet to finish as a top-five tight end.
Unfortunately, the football gods had different ideas. Henry tore his ACL in spring workouts and missed the entirety of the regular season. While he managed to see the field for the Chargers’ divisional round playoff loss, Henry didn’t record a single catch.
Because of his lost season, it’s easy to forget just how good Henry was in 2017. Appearing in 14 games, Henry recorded 45 receptions for 579 yards and four touchdowns. Despite only playing in 56.3% of the offensive snaps, Henry finished the year as the TE12 in standard scoring.
What’s most impressive about Henry’s 2017 was his efficiency. According to Sharp Football Stats, Henry had a 123 passer rating when targeted and a team-high 68% success rate. In short, good things happened for the Chargers whenever they incorporated Henry into the passing game. With Antonio Gates out of the picture, the Chargers will have every reason to try to utilize Henry in a larger role.
Hunter Henry is currently in the same situation he was supposed to be in during 2018. The Chargers haven’t added a notable tight end to the roster, so the starting job belongs to Henry. Philip Rivers is coming off one of the best seasons of his career and the Chargers have one of the more talented offenses in the league. Los Angeles should move the ball on a consistent basis, which means that Henry should see a high amount of targets. If Henry can even come close to matching his 2017 efficiency, then he should be a TE1 with the potential for a top-five finish.
The biggest question for Henry involves his knee injury. The Arkansas product has yet to catch a pass since his knee injury and might not be the same guy. While there’s always risk with players coming off lower body injuries, there are plenty of reasons to believe Henry can pick up where he left off.
For one, he suffered the injury in May of 2018. By the time the regular season rolls around, Henry will be 16 months removed from his ACL tear. Most players require a full calendar year before reaching full strength, and Henry comfortably fits in that timeline. Additionally, Henry is just 24 years old and should be physically capable of finding his old strength. The fact he returned last year implies he recovered well from the injury, and it’s a safe bet that he can return to his prior form.
Hunter Henry Average Draft Position
As of this posting, Fantasy Football Calculator has Hunter Henry going off the board with the 66th overall pick in standard scoring formats. This puts him in the same general tier as guys like Eric Ebron and Evan Engram and just ahead of guys like Jared Cook and Vance McDonald.
The tight end landscape is desolate, so the tight end position as a whole is getting overdrafted. With a lack of options, fantasy owners are reaching to grab a player who could finish as a TE1. Grabbing Henry in the sixth means passing on significantly safer players like Jarvis Landry, Tyler Boyd, and Jordan Howard. Henry has the potential to justify this selection, but the fact he’s coming off a knee injury and has never truly been a TE1 means that he comes with quite a bit of risk.
If you believe Hunter Henry will return at full strength and be a featured part of the offense, then draft him. However, if there’s too much risk here, you’re better off waiting until the later rounds to take a low-ceiling tight end and stream the position. Personally, this writer believes that Henry will return to his 2017 form and be a larger part of the offense. Grabbing him in the sixth round is a risk worth taking.
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