Dynasty Dilemma: Derrick Henry
By Alex French
The NFL draft is just a couple days away, which means your rookie drafts are quickly approaching. With this in mind, it's time to figure out if your team is ready to. Win now, or if you’re building for the future. So, it’s time to evaluate those veterans and roster spots to determine what lies in the future. Today, we take a look at what to do with former NFL rushing champion, Derrick Henry.
First and foremost, it’s important to self-evaluate. This can be difficult, but it's important to be as honest as possible with your team evaluation. Some NFL teams even struggle with this, however, if you’re able to do it correctly, success is in the future. So, are you in a position to make a run at the title in your league? Or are you in a position where you might make the playoffs? Alternatively, are you a team that would be competing for that first overall pick in the 2023 rookie draft? Once you’ve determined which category your team fits, the dilemma becomes much clearer. If your evaluation leads you to the ladder, and your poised for a title run now, maybe you want to consider acquiring Henry. Let’s evaluate further.
By far one of the best overall athletes in the entire league,Henry defied the odds last season. In 2020,Henry rushed for over 2000 yards with 17 touchdowns. Incredibly, in 2021, he was on pace to do it again before his season was cut short by a foot fracture. In previous seasons, a foot fracture was more often than not a season ending injury, yet Henry refused to let that happen. He returned for the Tennessee Titans playoff game. He managed 62 yards and. A touchdown, but it wasn’t enough. The fact Henry returned at all is encouraging for fantasy managers looking at their title chances in 2022. If you have a later round rookie pick, it will likely help your team less than what Henry represents. This is where self evaluation becomes critical. If you’re looking at a youth filled roster, or maybe one where you don’t really have studs anywhere you may want to consider the opposite side and read the following paragraphs. As a contender, you can be encouraged that Henry was off to an incredible start with 937 rushing yards in just eight games. He also chipped in 154 receiving yards. Despite playing in just eight games, he still finished at RB22 on the season. Interestingly enough, he was also on pace to have a career best 42.5 receptions. With newly acquired Robert Woods coming off a late season ACL tear, the Titans may need Henry to catch passes again. As a contender, make your move during the rookie draft to acquire Henry.
That all being said, there are still health concerns here. As good as Henry was for your fantasy team, he missed more than half the season with a foot fracture. As we;’ve seen in many cases before, this can be a lingering issue. Of course Henry came back for the Titans playoff game, but he clearly wasn’t himself with just 62 yards. Henry has seen an incredible workload over his career, and it's entirely possible it's catching up with him. In addition, Henry is already an outlier from a production standpoint. He continues to be a top fantasy running back despite his lackluster usage in the passing game. Running backs see their production fall off quite significantly after turning 26, and Henry just turned 28. With running backs, it's always better to get out a year too early than a year too late, think Todd Gurley. Gurley was risky due to a well documented knee issue, but let me ask you, is a foot injury all that different? I think now is the time to trade him away. It’s entirely possible to imagine Henry having a top 20 finish at the position, but that’s a risk I’m willing to accept.
So if he’s a trade candidate, what do we do? Well, there’s a few ways to approach the situation. As mentioned previously, rookie draft season is right around the corner. It’s not unreasonable to ask for a first rounder for Henry. I would look to target your favorite back in this class. If that happens to be Breece Hall, you may have to add your own picks to swing a trade as Hall is currently the first pick of rookie drafts. If you’ve had Henry on your team though, chances are you have a later round pick. I’d be willing to offer a late first and Henry for the 1.01 if that may be enough. If not, Kenneth Walker has been receiving a lot of hype lately, and has an incredible athletic profile as well. His current ADP is pick 3. That may be much more attainable.
This may be an unpopular opinion, and it's certainly risky, but a 28 year old running back coming off a foot fracture, with the workload of Derrick Henry, is more risk than I’m willing to take. In order for Henry to hit value going as the fourth overall pick, you need an outlier season of close to league lead in rushing yards and likely 12 or more touchdowns. Pair that with how little passing game work Henry gets, and you’re already asking for a lot. Add in returning from a foot fracture, and you’re approaching something close to hitting on a 5 tier parlay. That’s not a gamble I’m willing to take.
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