Why Derrick Henry's ADP is Too High in 2019

Jul 18, 2019
Why Derrick Henry's ADP is Too High in 2019

Derrick Henry is the epitome of high-risk, high-reward in 2019. He’s the type of player that has drafters grabbing him in the third to fourth round, or not at all. There are arguments for both scenarios, but my stance is pretty clear. Here’s a look at why I'm avoiding Henry this season at his current elevated ADP.

A Glimpse at 2018

Derrick Henry's 2018 Game Log
Game Rushes Rushing Yards Rushing TDs Receptions Receiving Yards Receiving TDs
1 10 26 0 1 5 0
2 18 56 0 0 0 0
3 18 57 0 0 0 0
4 8 24 0 2 7 0
5 11 56 0 0 0 0
6 7 21 0 1 5 0
7 12 33 1 2 32 0
9 6 27 1 2 5 0
10 11 58 2 0 0 0
11 9 46 0 0 0 0
12 8 30 0 2 19 0
13 10 40 1 2 5 0
14 17 238 4 0 0 0
15 33 170 2 1 0 0
16 21 84 1 1 8 0
17 16 93 0 1 13 0
Totals 215 1059 12 15 99 0

If you're a believer in his strong finish from last season, where he busted out 585 yards on 87 carries for an impressive 6.72 yards per carry over the last four games, then he’s worthy of that early selection. Of course, there’s also the Henry from Weeks 1–13, who averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and found the end zone just four times. Which Henry do we see in 2019?

Strength of Schedule is a Cause for Concern

The expectations seem to be that Tennessee will lean on Henry heavily again to start the season. As Titans General Manager Jon Robinson stated to TitansOnline, “he proved that he can step in there and carry the load, and we’ll try to put that right back on him”. However, if Henry starts out cold like in previous years, he may not get that chance.

The Titans’ run-first plan may also be thwarted by their schedule as they face Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck twice, along with teams led by Baker Mayfield, Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees this season. Tennessee will most likely need to throw the ball more than they’d like to keep up with these powerful offenses, meaning less work for the 25-year old.

Very Little Passing in his Game

Last year, Henry finished tied with James Develin and Bilal Powell for 69th in total targets with just 18 on the season. He turned those looks into only 15 receptions, which was tied for 60th among NFL backs. Sadly, both of those numbers were career highs for Henry and he’s only reached the end zone once via the air in his three years in the league.

Even during last year’s incredible four-game stretch which would have put him on pace for 2,342 rushing yards over the full, 16-game season, Henry only had three catches for 21 yards, while Dion Lewis saw 16 targets which he converted to 14 receptions for 91 yards. Lewis boasts the higher catch rate over the course of his career and having him on the roster gives the Titans versatility in their play-calling. When Henry is on the field it’s fairly clear that they’re running the ball, but with Lewis in the mix, it’s not as predictable, which is probably why Lewis out-snapped Henry for the majority of 2018, with their final numbers settling at 61% to 41%, in favor of Lewis.

Bottom Line

Henry is indeed strong and powerful and will most likely produce as an RB2 in 2019. However, he’s too game script dependent and not involved enough in the passing game to warrant his current ADP. According to John Paulson’s projections, backs going around him like Devonta Freeman or Josh Jacobs could have more than double the receptions with similar rushing yardage. He’s a bit more tolerable for me in non-PPR formats but is still too pricey to count on as an elite option. Perhaps a good plan is to pass on him for now and buy low in October after he falters to start out the season.

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