Derrick Henry Fantasy Value: How Early to Target Titans RB

Derrick Henry Fantasy

Getty Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Derrick Henry has gotten better and better over the first three seasons of his career and is poised for big things in 2019. The 2015 Heisman winner out of Alabama went to Tennessee in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, slowly generating better numbers each year since.

His first season saw him start just two games and appear in 13 others, carrying the ball 110 times for 490 yards and five touchdowns. He improved to 176 totes for 744 yards the following year, culimating in his 1,059-yard and 12-touchdown campaign last fall.

These numbers look solid on paper, but digging deeper into his week-by-week fantasy points, Henry was very boom or bust. He didn’t reach double-digits until Week Seven against the Chargers, but went on a tear from Week 13 onwards.

The highlights include a 47-point eruption against the Jaguars, based on 237 rushing yards and four scores. The following week, he scored 29 points after rushing for 170 yards and two scores.

CBS Sports better explains the inconsistency in the 25-year-old back.

He weakly averaged 3.7 yards per carry with a touchdown every 25.6 carries through the first 12 games of the season (he went scoreless until Week 7). Then from Week 14 on he rumbled for 6.7 yards per carry with a score every 12.4 carries. And if we’re going to play with numbers, he actually did score once every 11.9 carries from Week 7 on.

One of the limiting factors of Henry’s game is that he’s not particularly effective as a pass-catcher. He’s tallied just 372 receiving yards and a touchdown in his three seasons.

On top of that, he has to deal with split touches between him and backup Dion Lewis (917 yards from scrimmage, two touchdowns in 2018). In addition, Henry is nursing a calf injury that’s limited him throughout the preseason.

He’ll be available for Week One, but his effectiveness is assuredly in question from the get-go.

Derrick Henry Fantasy Scouting Reports

Derrick Henry 99 Yard Touchdown Run vs Jaguars2018-12-07T02:35:13.000Z

Action Network says that one of Henry’s limiting factors will be a lack of touches (no more than 180 in a season). The injury and Lewis on the roster will not help in this department.

ESPN argues that Henry is a paper tiger in terms of fantasy value, as his inconsistency creates what is known as an “availability bias.” This refers to an event that warps your judgement on a player, such as his 99-yard touchdown against the Jaguars last season.

In the Henry example above, it is easy to understand why the first memories that come to mind about his 2018 season are his 99-yard run and his 47-point Week 14. His record-tying run and eye-popping overall numbers are certainly unusual and sensational, and they received tremendous attention from media and fans. On the other hand, his mediocre Weeks 1-13 are easy to forget since they do not stand out and did not receive any special media attention.

Due to availability bias, Henry’s Week 14 performance disproportionately affects our views of his 2019 fantasy prospects. Even though the first 13 weeks offer a much larger sample size and are more representative of his fantasy value, many fans will focus on Henry’s monster week when assessing how he will perform this season.

Basically, buyer beware with Henry. If you draft him, you should pick and choose when he plays based on bad rushing defenses he will face on the schedule. This means a late-round selection.