In his rookie year of 2016, Henry averaged 4.5 yards per carry and managed five touchdowns in just 110 carries.
Then in 2017, his sophomore year, the running back averaged 4.2 yards per carry and scored five touchdowns again, this time on 176 carries.
In 2018, Henry hit 1,000 rushing yards for the first time, with 1,059 in 215 carries (4.9 yards per carry). Most impressively, he scored an incredible 12 touchdowns. That was a great year, but it was hard to call him a superstar off of it.
Then came 2019 though. And with it, that superstar breakout year that everyone had been waiting for.
On 303 carries, Henry racked up 1,540 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns. He led the NFL in all of those categories. Even his yards per carry was the highest among running backs with at least 150 carries.
It’s safe to say, Henry was officially considered a superstar after that season. What does it mean for the future though? What is the fantasy outlook of Henry for the 2020 season?
Let’s take a look at his past and present and try to figure it out.
2019 Fantasy Stats
We’ve already touched on Henry’s incredible 2019 season.
He led the NFL with 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns. Both give him a massive advantage when it comes to fantasy football. Obviously those stats put him in a great spot when it comes to racking up fantasy points.
However, Derrick Henry has two things going against him here. First, he is not much of a receiver. The running back caught 18 passes for 206 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions.
Those are not exactly great numbers for a PPR league. A lot of running backs are going to make up the difference in rushing numbers by vastly outperforming Derrick Henry in this area.
There’s one other major problem with Derrick Henry, his inconsistency. This has been an issue his entire career. And 2019 was no different.
Last season, Derrick Henry had three games with over 150 yards rushing (one with over 200). He had six total 100 yard rushing games.
In those six games, he added up for 910 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
That leaves just 630 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns for the other nine games (Derrick Henry appeared in 15 games last season).
That’s an average of 70 rushing yards and 0.667 rushing touchdowns a game. That’s not exactly going to get you much in regards to fantasy.
So while Henry’s overall fantasy numbers are great, he was not always good on a week-to-week basis.
There were times where he could get someone a fantasy win basically all by himself. But there were far too many games where he barely contributed to your team.
Worst of all, his best game (211 yards and three rushing touchdowns) came in Week 17 – the last week of the season. Most fantasy leagues have already wrapped up by that point.
So great overall numbers, but the consistency leaves a lot to be desired.
2020 Fantasy Projections
It’s frustrating to say this, but you should probably expect more of the same from Derrick Henry. And this is not all his fault.
It’s not like I’m saying Derrick Henry is inconsistent because he is not a great player. One of the main reasons Henry is inconsistent is because of the offense he is in.
Tennessee is not exactly feared when it comes to their passing attack. Ryan Tannehill had a nice breakout year in 2019. But he showed in the playoffs last year that you can’t exactly trust him completely yet.
So teams are going to focus heavily on stopping Derrick Henry. Stop the running back and force Tannehill and the passing offense to beat you, that’s the smart play against the Titans.
Due to that, Derrick Henry is going to face defenses that are completely game planning for him.
He’s going to have his super human runs. He’ll break off that 80 yard touchdown run that makes everyone go crazy. And with that, he will have some monster games. Don’t be surprised if he flirts with 200 yards a few times and picks up quite a few multi-touchdown games.
But the bad games will come with it.
Overall, Derrick Henry could very easily lead the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns again. And in doing so, he’s going to be one of the highest scoring fantasy football running backs.
He still won’t get you much in the receiving category though, so that will hurt him. And the inconsistency will be there, so you shouldn’t expect monster games every week.
1,500 yards and another 15 touchdowns could be on the docket. Don’t expect anything more than 20 receptions and 250 receiving yards though.
If you can deal with a few bad games, those “good” games will be more than worth it.
Rank At Position
This is a really tough one for Derrick Henry. Because he has the talent to lead the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He literally did just that in 2019.
But his receiving numbers will drop him down a few spots.
So with that in mind, Derrick Henry is absolutely a top-10 fantasy football running back, and is probably even close to top-5, but he’s not there yet.
If you are in a PPR league, there are still some obvious running backs to put ahead of him.
Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot and Alvin Kamara are all right near the top. Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb and Austin Ekeler could also be considered right near the top.
Henry is somewhere in that group. McCaffrey is the clear number one, and Barkley probably takes the clear number two spot. After that though, it’s sort of a free-for-all.
Derrick Henry is probably going to get you the best individual games out of the rest of that group, but he’s also the one most prone to dropping a stinker any given week.
If you’re looking for consistency, you might want to stay away from Henry. If you want someone that will be right near the top of the fantasy football points leaderboard at the end of the year though, Henry is the running back for you.