Saying Derrick Henry should go early in fantasy drafts isn’t exactly one of my hotter takes, but I’m here to argue he deserves stronger consideration for the No. 1 overall pick than most are giving him.
Henry is the league’s most prolific runner with the ball in his hands, finishing first in Yards Created last season while leading the league in YPC after contact by a mile.
In 12 games after Ryan Tannehill took over at QB, Henry totaled 1,695 yards with 15 touchdowns while playing through a legitimate lower leg injury and a final stretch of four straight road games (Henry got 5.6 YPC at home).
Reasons to take Derrick Henry No. 1 overall
While he gets dinged in PPR formats, it should be noted Dion Lewis has left (the team seemingly replaced him with rookie Darrynton Evans, but the depth chart couldn’t be thinner after the third-rounder), and Henry quietly ranks top-five in yards per target among RBs over the last three years, so there’s plenty of reason for him to be more involved as a receiver in 2020.
Henry scored 16 touchdowns last year (a 20-TD season’s pace after Tannehill took over) despite somehow not being among the dozen leaders in goal-line carries (after finishing third the season before), so there’s legit 25-touchdown upside given his ability combined with his situation.
The Titans project to have one of the league’s stronger offensive lines despite Jack Conklin’s departure, with emerging weapons at QB, WR, and TE. Tannehill just had one of the legitimately best abbreviated NFL seasons ever, posting a league-high AY/A (only Kurt Warner in 2000 recorded a better YPA in the modern era) and a historically high CPOE. A.J. Brown finished second in both yards per route run and fantasy points per target as a rookie and is going to be a problem for defenses for years to come. Jonnu Smith is an elite tackle-breaker, while Corey Davis is a former top-five overall pick who’s overqualified as a complementary piece. It won’t be easy to stack fronts against the Titans, even when defenses know Henry is getting the ball (he actually dealt with a negative game script last season).
While the Colts’ defense looks much improved, it should be highly beneficial facing the Jaguars and Texans 25% of the schedule. And while fully acknowledging it’s a reshuffle league that changes a great deal year-to-year, the final 13 weeks of Tennessee’s 2020 schedule features just one team that didn’t rank in the bottom-half in run defense DVOA last season (and none in the top-12).
The Bottom Line
Henry ran for 4,200 yards and 55 touchdowns in 13 games as a senior in high school and might be the best HS running back ever. This man is 250 pounds, simply unfair to defenders, and projects to see the heaviest workload in the NFL this season in an offense that’s sneakily one of the best in the league. Don’t forget just how out of control Henry’s DFS price became late last season (and rightfully so).
There’s a far better chance Henry finishes as the RB1 than outside the top-10, and in 0.5 PPR, he might even be the favorite to finish first.