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Derrick Henry: Don’t be Afraid in Dynasty

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For two years now, everyone has told you to sell Derrick Henry. Don’t sell Derrick Henry.


Titans running back Derrick Henry has been a stud, finishing as a top-five RB in each of the last two seasons. Last season he eclipsed 370 carries and had 2,027 rushing yards. Henry is the eighth running back to run for over 2000 yards in NFL history. He’s also only the third to do so at age 26. Only Adrian Peterson and Barry Sanders had 2,000 rushing yards at an older age.

If you listen to the majority opinions in fantasy, Henry is on the downward slide of his carrier, and you must sell today before he falls off the cliff! Don’t do it! Henry is going to produce for your team beyond this year.

Everyone who is telling you to sell Derrick Henry is comparing him to the modern-day NFL running back. Runningbacks who use agility, quickness, and speed to be successful. All of those traits wane with age, and Henry is not that type of back.

Henry is a power runner who relies on muscle and conditioning to wear down defenders. Those traits do not wane with age. His physical play is reminiscent of many of the great backs of the ’90s and 2000s.

Lots of Carries

Of the running backs who entered their age 27 season, coming off two straight 300+ carry seasons, Derrick Henry has the lowest total carries with 804.

Jerome Bettis, running back for the Pittsburg Steelers, averaged 320 carries a season between his age 23 and 29 seasons, including 355 carries at age 28. In his age 29 season, Bettis saw the second-highest yards per carry of his career.

Emmitt Smith, running back for the Dallas Cowboys, saw 377 carries in his age 26 season. He also had 62 receptions that same year. In his age 27 season, Smith saw 327 carries and 47 receptions. I will admit that his yards per carry dropped from 4.7 to 3.7, however, they rebounded to 4.1 the following season (Smith’s career average was 4.2).

Shaun Alexander had three straight seasons of over 300 carries, beginning at age 26, and saw his statistically best season at age 28 the season after 376 touches.

There are plenty of examples of RBs who have been successful going into the same situation Henry finds himself in. Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders, and Larry Johnson all had 300+ carries in their age 26 season. They all also had over 300 in the following two seasons, except for Larry Johnson. Johnson only played in eight games in his age 28 season.

All of the running backs in this section saw a dip in their YPC in the third season. However, they all rebounded to their career averages in the next season.

Henry is the first running back to lead the league in rushing in back-to-back seasons since the greatest running back of the modern fantasy football era Ladanian Tomlinson. Beginning in his rookie season, Tomlinson had seven straight seasons of 300+ carries, including his age 26, 27, and 28 seasons.

In 2005, Henry’s yards per carry total was 4.3. In 2006, his age 27 season, his YPC was an astounding 5.2.  That number dropped to 4.7 in 2007, which was still higher than his career average of 4.2.

 

Older Breakout Backs

There are examples of running backs who broke out even later in life than Derrick Henry. Tiki Barber, for example, didn’t see his first significant workload until age 25. Barber had over 300 carries at age 29, 30, and 31. In those three seasons, he saw his career average, or better, in yards per carry.

Not only was that stretch of seasons the best statistically of his career,  but Barber also eclipsed the magical 370 touchmark in those seasons.

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Priest Holmes didn’t surpass 300 carries until he was 28 years old, and at 29 and 30 had over 20 touchdowns to go with over 300 carries.

He Trains for This

Derrick Henry trains for this workload. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Henry explained how hard he trains. Among other things, he says that he does similar training to the great running backs in NFL history and prides himself in hard work.

If Derrick Henry was a bone-crushing linebacker like say Ray Lewis or Bill Romanowski, we wouldn’t question his physical play and how long he would be relevant for. Sometimes, there are players who are just built differently. Henry is that player.


Thank you for investing some time in my articles. If you’d like to read more, you can visit my IDP Guys author page or follow me on Twitter at @FF_Skinnychef. If there is something you would like to see written, DM me. May the waivers be forever in your favor.

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