Game-By-Game Projections: Derrick Henry (2020 Fantasy Football)
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After a strong 2018 campaign, many in the fantasy community wondered if Derrick Henry could replicate that success in 2019. After all, he did most of his damage over the final month of season, gashing opposing defenses for hundreds of yards and a half dozen touchdowns. He had flashed that kind of big-play upside since entering the league in 2016, but Henry had never been a consistent contributor for a full season. Well, we all know what happened next. Henry led the league in rush attempts, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2019 and finished as the RB3 in half-PPR scoring. After the breakout year, the Alabama product was franchise-tagged and will return for at least one more season in Tennessee. The biggest question remaining is, what will he do for an encore? Let’s break it down game-by game:
Week 1: @ Broncos
This is a tough one for Tennessee. Playing on the road in Mile High to open the season is bad enough, but contending with the likes of Bradley Chubb and Von Miller is even more daunting for an opposing running back. I’m not too bullish on Henry in the season-opener, but his slow start is no concern in the difficult matchup.
Predicted stat line: 16 rush attempts, 58 rush yards, 0 rush TDs; 0 receptions, 0 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (5.8 fantasy points)
Week 2: vs. Jaguars
The Titans’ home-opener comes against the lowly Jaguars in an easily-winnable divisional contest. Tennessee should roll the rebuilding Jacksonville squad, while Henry goes for nearly 100 yards and crosses the goal line for the first time in 2020. Fantasy owners breathe a sigh of relief after a disappointing Week 1.
Predicted stat line: 19 rush attempts, 92 rush yards, 1 rush TDs; 1 receptions, 1 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (16.1 fantasy points)
Week 3: @ Vikings
Another tall task faces Tennessee in Week 3 against the solid Vikings defense, and Henry will struggle to find his footing against Minnesota here. He fails to score a rushing touchdown, but a quick screen goes for 21 yards and Henry nabs a rare receiving score to salvage the day.
Predicted stat line: 17 rush attempts, 69 rush yards, 0 rush TDs; 1 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (15.5 fantasy points)
Week 4: vs. Steelers
In the second week of strong defenses, Tennessee faces Pittsburgh and its formidable front seven featuring T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and Bud Dupree among others. Tennessee does its best to keep the ball out of Big Ben’s hands and funnels 18 carries to Henry. He fails to eclipse 3.5 yards per carry but sneaks in a goal-line touchdown here.
Predicted stat line: 18 rush attempts, 61 rush yards, 1 rush TDs; 0 receptions, 0 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (12.1 fantasy points)
Week 5: vs. Bills
For the third week in a row, Tennessee’s offense has its hands full. A matchup against Buffalo presents a challenge for Henry, but the volume of carries and a 19-yard reception are enough to get him 95 yards and double-digit fantasy points.
Predicted stat line: 21 rush attempts, 76 rush yards, 0 rush TDs; 1 receptions, 19 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (10.0 fantasy points)
Week 6: vs. Texans
Henry gets an excellent home matchup with a team that projects to have one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2020. Tennessee and Houston lock horns in a close first half, but Henry breaks off a couple big runs in the second half to get his first 100-yard game of the season while leading the Titans to a victory.
Predicted stat line: 16 rush attempts, 121 rush yards, 1 rush TDs; 2 receptions, 28 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (21.9 fantasy points)
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: @ Bengals
Rested and playing against another exploitable defense, Henry tees off against Cincinnati in Week 8. Tennessee wins the game handily, though Joe Burrow shows flashes of the talent that earned him the No. 1 pick. Henry bowls over defenders and proves to be too much for the Bengals, as he records his highest rushing total of the season to go with a pair of scores.
Predicted stat line: 19 rush attempts, 143 rush yards, 2 rush TDs; 1 receptions, 3 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (27.1 fantasy points)
Week 9: vs. Bears
After a monster Week 8, Tennessee returns home to face stiff competition in Chicago. Tennessee has a tough time running the ball, and Henry’s rushing line comes up well short of expectations for fantasy owners thanks to a front-seven featuring Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks.
Predicted stat line: 18 rush attempts, 44 rush yards, 0 rush TDs; 1 receptions, 15 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (6.4 fantasy points)
Week 10: vs. Colts
The Colts’ run defense was one of the stingiest in the league last season, and the unit should only improve thanks to the addition of DeForest Buckner in 2020. Henry barely scrapes past 4.0 yards per carry, though he punches in a pair of short touchdowns in a hard-fought divisional showdown.
Predicted stat line: 14 rush attempts, 62 rush yards, 2 rush TDs; 2 receptions, 16 receiving yards, x receiving TDs (20.8 fantasy points)
Week 11: @ Ravens
More tough sledding for Henry here, going up against one of the league’s best defenses. He crushed Baltimore to the tune of 30/195 in the shocking Divisional Round upset in the 2019 playoffs, though I think Baltimore remembers and makes it a point to stuff the run. Henry fails to muster much on the ground and Tennessee loses the game, but a receiving touchdown saves his day.
Predicted stat line: 14 rush attempts, 49 rush yards, 0 rush TDs; 1 receptions, 14 receiving yards, 1 receiving TDs (13.8 fantasy points)
Week 12: @ Colts
The Titans establish the run better the second time out against Indy, but Henry still fails to find the end zone against the division rivals. Regardless, he hits 90 yards and doesn’t dramatically underwhelm for fantasy owners in Week 12.
Predicted stat line: 15 rush attempts, 78 rush yards, 0 rush TDs; 1 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (9.5 fantasy points)
Week 13: vs. Browns
Tennessee gets a weak Browns run defense at home in Week 13, and Henry bounces back from his Week 12 struggles against the Colts. The Titans feed him the rock nearly 20 times as the team tries to control the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of Cleveland’s dynamic playmakers.
Predicted stat line: 18 rush attempts, 83 rush yards, 1 rush TDs; 0 receptions, 0 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (14.3 fantasy points)
Week 14: @ Jaguars
Another game against the Jags, another strong fantasy performance for Henry. Gardner Minshew has a strong game at home, though Tennessee milks the clock with Henry and rookie Darrynton Evans to secure the win. Expect Henry to score and tease 100 yards for the first week of the fantasy playoffs.
Predicted stat line: 17 rush attempts, 87 rush yards, 1 rush TDs; 0 receptions, 0 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (14.7 fantasy points)
Week 15: vs. Lions
This one shouldn’t present Henry with too much trouble, as Detroit’s defense should be poor again in 2020. Henry rushes 19 times and scores, while one of his biggest receiving games of the year pushes his total yardage over 100.
Predicted stat line: 19 rush attempts, 84 rush yards, 1 rush TDs; 2 receptions, 22 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (17.6 fantasy points)
Week 16: @ Packers
Green Bay’s rush defense was ranked 26th in yards allowed last season, and the team just lost its leading tackler Blake Martinez in the offseason – pretty favorable circumstances if your name is Derrick Henry. Playing at Lambeau, Tennesse is able to move the ball at will on the ground, though Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones and Davante Adams respond with plenty of work through the air. This one is a high-scoring shootout with Tennessee edging out the Pack 33-31 thanks to a strong effort from No. 22, who ends with a hat trick. If you’re playing in fantasy championship week with Henry in your starting lineup – congratulations on your title!
Predicted stat line: 21 rush attempts, 108 rush yards, 3 rush TDs; 1 receptions, 8 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (30.1 fantasy points)
Week 17: @ Texans
Tennessee closes the season at NRG Stadium, where Henry will be held in check a little more than he was in Week 6 against Houston. The running lanes will still be there, though. The Titans complete the season sweep of the division rival, and Henry cruises to 96 total yards and his 14th rushing touchdown of another spectacular campaign.
Predicted stat line: 16 rush attempts, 79 rush yards, 1 rush TDs; 1 receptions, 17 receiving yards, 0 receiving TDs (16.1 fantasy points)
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The addition of Darrynton Evans as a potential third-down back and the loss of four-year starter Jack Conklin on the offensive line will certainly put a dent in Henry’s fantasy outlook but not much. The bruising back should be the centerpiece of an offense that made it to the AFC Championship last season, and after signing his franchise tender, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Tennessee give him a healthy dose of carries once again and get its money’s worth. I’m not predicting as many as the league-leading 303 he saw in 2019, but he should still handle a healthy workload. The downgrade on the offensive line means that he won’t rack up the healthy 5.1 yards per carry he did a season ago, and Evans’ presence means he’ll cede about two touches per game. Despite losing 28 touches from 2019 to 2020, I’m still betting on Henry touching the ball nearly 300 times and rolling for nearly 1,500 scrimmage yards with 16 total touchdowns. He’s a no-brainer first-round pick.
2019 stats: 303 rushing attempts, 1,540 rushing yards, 16 rushing TDs; 18 receptions, 206 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs
2020 prediction: 278 rushing attempts, 1,294 rushing yards, 14 rushing TDs; 15 receptions, 179 receiving yards, 2 receiving TDs