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Rapid Reaction: Derrick Henry Returns to Titans (2020 Fantasy Football)

Mar 16, 2020

Derrick Henry returns to Tennessee.

Derrick Henry will return to Tennessee for 2020 – and that could be great news for fantasy owners, who watched Henry roll to a career year in 2019. Can Henry hope for a repeat performance? Our analysts offer their thoughts on Henry being franchised by the Titans:

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Q1. What is the fantasy football impact of Derrick Henry remaining with the Titans?

We apparently have the whole gang back together in Tennessee, though you shouldn’t expect 100-plus rushing yards in 8-of-9 games like Henry did at the end of the 2019 season (playoffs included). Once Ryan Tannehill took over, the offense looked like a different monster, and while they’re going to be passing a bit more, Henry will remain the focal point of their attack. He should be considered a middling RB1 in fantasy football for 2020, though spending a high first-round pick on him would be ill-advised. He finished with zero or one catch in 11-of-15 regular season games in 2019, which doesn’t provide the floor you’d want with a player selected that high.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

Derrick Henry was demanding 90 million dollars or more like the Cowboys gave Ezekiel Elliott, but the Titans tagged him instead. We haven’t heard anything to this tune, but it is fair to speculate that Henry may end up holding out if he is unaccepting of pushing back a longterm deal. With that said, this is the best possible landing spot for Henry, as he would have surely taken a step back behind the horrendous offensive lines in Miami or Houston, and not seen near as many touches in Tampa or Atlanta. Henry should be drafted near the back-end of the first round in fantasy leagues this year.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Unfortunately, this decision by Tennessee carries a bit more weight for fantasy football than the Ryan Tannehill extension from yesterday. Henry being franchise tagged means that we could be spiraling towards a holdout in 2020. With the amount of work that Henry’s had, it’s highly unlikely that he is willing to play under that one-year deal this next season. If Henry does suit up in 2020, it’ll be with a new contract in Tennessee or it’ll be with a new team that ends up trading for him, which I don’t see happening.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

Henry would have almost certainly had RB1 value wherever he landed, but his staying in Tennessee is a positive development. Henry will continue to lead the way in the offense with Tannehill under center, and the Titans have a strong offensive line with a system that Henry obviously knows. He won’t see the 30-plus carries he saw in Week 17 and the first two rounds of the playoffs, but he won’t need to in order to continue to providing excellent numbers. Just don’t bank on an increase in the passing game.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

Q2. Who else is impacted by Henry’s signing from a fantasy perspective?

The franchise tag that was placed on Henry clearly affects the upside for someone like Ryan Tannehill, as they’re going to continue to employ a run-heavy attack. Still, you don’t pay a quarterback over $100 million if you don’t plan to utilize him at all, so even though this may cap Tannehill’s upside, it doesn’t crush his appeal. If anything, the threat of Henry should help Tannehill see more man coverage in the secondary, surging his efficiency.
-Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL)

Many will argue that this hurts Ryan Tannehill and the passing game but I’d argue it is quite the reverse. If they had allowed Henry to walk and draft Swift or Taylor in the first round, this still would have been a run-heavy offense. Now, instead, teams will continue to stack the box in order to stop this freakish back. Don’t expect 400+ touches out of Henry again, either. Rather, Tannehill’s extremely efficient passing could turn into efficiency with moderate volume, making him a fringe QB1 and A.J. Brown a fringe WR1.
-Bobby Sylvester (@bobbyfantasypro)

Ryan Tannehill is the big name here, but it can either be a really good thing or a really bad thing. That offense runs through Henry and thrives off of play-action, which we saw Tannehill perform really well off of in 2019. If Henry signs the long-term deal, this is awesome news for Tannehill. However, if he’s unlikely to suit up under the franchise tag in 2020, they’re going to need another RB that can carry that workload to help out their newly paid QB.
-Kyle Yates (@KyleYNFL)

Henry’s signing has little impact on other players. Yes, it will mean that the Titans continue to employ the same run-heavy approach, limiting Ryan Tannehill’s passing attempts. But we saw Tannehill and A.J. Brown have massive success with the same offensive philosophy last year, and Tannehill should be able to continue to capitalize on play-action passing and with seeing man coverage as defenses look to stop Henry. Tannehill’s efficiency may drop, and Brown will continue to need to do work after the catch, but the move overall should keep the fantasy value of both players relatively intact.
-Dan Harris (@danharris80)

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