The NFL preseason is now in full swing and it’s time to prepare for fantasy football drafts. If you’re not employing a zero running back strategy, your early-round picks will be important. In this article, we’ll discuss why you’re better off picking Phillip Lindsay than Derrick Henry. The two backs are both projected to be mid to late fourth-round picks in PPR formats according to Fantasy Football Calculator. Of course, Henry is more of a household name at this point. Lindsay was a rookie last year and an undrafted one at that. But Lindsay showed a lot of promise and even finished the season with two more fantasy points despite playing in one less game than Henry.
The Case for Drafting Phillip Lindsay Over Derrick Henry
Lindsay was an undrafted free agent in 2018. But he’s a hard worker. The young back out of Colorado made the Denver Broncos roster after a strong preseason last year. Lindsay was not initially the starter, but he ended up starting eight of the 15 games he played in. On the season, Lindsay had 1,037 rushing yards on 192 attempts with nine touchdowns. He finished his rookie year with a 5.4 yards per carry average. Lindsay also made 35 receptions for 241 yards and one touchdown reception.
Lindsay’s strong rookie year translated to him being a popular waiver wire addition in many fantasy leagues. Lindsay had 188 fantasy points which were good for the 12th ranked running back and 29th overall. Those aren’t shabby numbers for an undrafted rookie. There were only six games in 2018 in which Lindsay failed to reach 10 fantasy points. Conversely, he also scored at least 15 fantasy points in six games. His best week came in week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Lindsay had 157 rushing yards that game with two touchdowns which gave him 27.9 fantasy points that week.
The 2018 season was Henry’s best statistical season yet. The third-year running back out of Alabama had 215 attempts for 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns. That was good for a 4.9 yard per carry average. Henry also had 15 receptions for 99 yards. Last season was the first year Henry eclipsed the magical 1,000 yard mark and he also started in double-digit games with 12 starts.
Henry averaged 13 rushing attempts per game last year compared to averaging 11 attempts in the 2017 season. The frustrating part for fantasy owners and fans alike would be the inconsistency in Henry’s production. Henry scored less than 10 fantasy points on nine occasions in 2018. Henry scored at least 15 fantasy points four times in 2018. Henry’s best game was in week 13 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That week, Henry rushed 17 times for 238 yards and four touchdowns with 47.8 fantasy points. It was a monster game.
ADP and the Advantage for Lindsay
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Henry is currently the 22nd ranked running back and Lindsay is ranked 24th in 12-team PPR formats. Henry is going around the sixth pick of the fourth round and Lindsay is at the 12th pick of the fourth round. Henry of course has more name recognition at this point than Lindsay. That fact along with Henry’s slightly higher ADP could lead you to go with Henry in the fourth. But that could be a mistake.
The advantage that Lindsay has over Henry is that he is likely to be a more consistent back. Henry can be feast or famine. With Henry, you have to hope that his performances in the final four games of 2018 are more indicative of the future than his greater body of work. While it took Henry until his third year to break 1,000 yards, Lindsay did it his rookie year.
The concern for Lindsay is his teammates. Besides him, there’s Royce Freeman and the recently added Theo Riddick. Riddick is more of a pass-catching back and Lindsay was more successful than Freeman last season. However, the presence of these two backs is the major concern for Lindsay going into 2019. If it’s a running back by committee approach in Denver, Lindsay’s fantasy production suffers.
When in Doubt, Take Lindsay
If it comes down to the late fourth round and both players are available, Lindsay is the safer pick. If you want a player that has a better chance to consistently produce week in and week out, Lindsay is your man. Despite the occasional monster game from Henry, he hasn’t proven to be a reliable back. Lindsay isn’t nearly reliant on huge games to boost his fantasy appeal.