Los Angeles Rams‘ Todd Gurley had finally seemed to reach what many fantasy football owners had dreamt of when they selected him early in their drafts this season.
From Week 4 through Week 5 the running back averaged 22.4 fantasy points, the seventh-most at his position over that time span. Yet, just when you finally felt comfortable locking in the former must-start back into your lineups again, an injury popped up.
After a week where head coach Sean McVay’s silence and lack of knowledge of Gurley’s availability spoke volumes, the running back is now officially doubtful to play on Sunday. Many Gurley owners ran to the waiver wire to scoop Malcolm Brown upon hearing the news. While others already had him stashed on their bench for this exact reason. Yet, an argument could be made that he isn’t even the best backup Rams running back to own for Week 6, as well as moving forward.
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Darrell Henderson’s Fantasy Outlook vs. San Francisco 49ers
Very few rookies had as much fantasy hype as Darrell Henderson this offseason. The former Memphis Tiger was drafted in the third round and was projected to have a major role complimenting the injury-riddled Todd Gurley in 2019. Thus far, that couldn’t be any further from reality. Henderson has touched the ball a grand total of one time through the first five games of the season, accumulating exactly zero yards.
While Henderson was the expected sidekick to Gurley entering the season, it was fellow running mate Malcolm Brown who staked claim to the role. That is, at least in the early parts of the season. He racked up 17 touches over the first two weeks of this season. The team even opted to feature Brown as the goal-line back as opposed to Gurley, outscoring the former offensive player of the year two touchdowns to one. However, since then, Brown has seen his usage rate decrease exponentially. Following a season-high snap count percentage of 36% in Week 2, the running back has seen his snap count continuously dwindle down all the way to a meager 4% one week ago. Throughout that time Brown has also seen his production dissipate. He has averaged just 2.71 ypc over the same time span. Yet the most notably concerning statistic for Brown owners is also the one that may make Henderson the better fantasy option on Sunday.
Brown is essentially nonexistent in the passing game, hauling in a single reception all season. In fact, he’s only caught 19 passes since entering the league back in 2015. While Brown’s limitations make him a concerning play in PPR leagues moving forward, Darrell Henderson made a name for himself in college for his receiving prowess. Henderson reeled in 63 receptions over a three-year span for the Tigers, including an impressive 15.5 yards per reception average a season ago.
The San Francisco 49ers have surrendered the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. They have been slightly susceptible to running backs in the receiving game. Over the first three weeks of the season, running backs averaged five targets and nearly four receptions per game against the ‘9ers. Brown has caught more than two passes in just one game over his four-plus year career, and that occurred back in 2017. It may be picking at straws, but it’s likely the best way for the Rams to attack an otherwise impenetrable 49ers defense.
Should You Start or Sit Darrell Henderson in Week 6?
The combination of the 49ers stout run defense, and the Rams infatuation with passing the ball this season (no QB attempted more passes than Jared Goff over the first five weeks of the season) lends it’s hand to Henderson seeing more opportunities than Brown this week.
I’d be hard-pressed to start either of these running backs in my Week 6 lineups, as the question marks and difficult matchup outweigh the upside for both backs. However, if you’re a Gurley owner you may have no choice but to start one of these guys. In that case, the safe choice is Brown. He is the clear option in standard-scoring leagues, and has the best chance of finding the endzone. In PPR scoring formats I would roll the dice on Henderson. He’s a major boom or bust candidate, but one that could reward you big time. Plus, McVay’s comments regarding the back’s potential usage this week are certainly promising. Either way, one thing is clear, Henderson is a must-stash in all leagues as Gurley’s injuries continue to linger.