Draft or Pass: Can You Trust Derrick Henry as a Mid-First Rounder in a PPR League?

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is unstoppable on the ground, but how much of his value is negated in PPR formats? SI Fantasy expert Ben Heisler examines his draft value.
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It's never too early to start your fantasy football research, and we here at SI Fantasy want to provide you with the best information possible heading into your drafts. Our "Draft or Pass" video series takes a closer look at a fantasy player that will be debated often leading up to fantasy drafts. Are our hosts targeting this player specifically? Are they avoiding him entirely?

Today's video focuses on Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry.

Derrick Henry Draft or Pass at current ADP (average draft position): 7 (RB6)

Remember when Derrick Henry cemented himself as an absolute force to be reckoned with?

It was a Thursday night game in Nashville. The Jacksonville Jaguars were in town, looking to salvage a disappointing season after making it to the AFC Championship game a season before. Their once elite defense that had held Henry to just 57 yards in their previous matchup was slowly starting to give up on the season.

In Week 14 of 2018, Henry ran 99 yards for the score in the most dominant way possible and propelled many fantasy owners to a big fantasy postseason win.

Henry would go on to rush for 238 yards on 17 carries that night. He finished the fantasy playoffs that season with 492 yards and seven rushing touchdowns after not running for more than 58 yards in a game the entire season!

In 2019, Henry was still viewed as a mid-round back, drafted as the RB23 towards the mid to late part of the fourth round. He rewarded fantasy owners by leading the NFL in rushing and being only one of two running backs to carry the rock 300 times (along with Ezekiel Elliott). He also gets volume inside-the-five and capitalizes on it. Via Pro Football Focus, nobody had a better touchdown rate than Henry on carries inside-the-five, scoring 64% of the time.

And despite only catching 18 passes, he still finished fifth amongst PPR running backs in scoring.

This offseason, the Titans decided to bring back both QB Ryan Tannehill and Henry but elected to use the franchise tag on their star running back over a long-term deal. Unless Henry chooses to pull a Dalvin Cook and hold out, there's no sense in Tennessee leaving anything in Henry's tank for 2021.

David Boclair of AllTitans broke down how Henry's ability to finish a season strong makes him a likely candidate to repeat as the rushing leader in 2020.

"(Henry) roared to the top last season with five 100-yard games in his last six appearances. He capped that run with a season-high 211 yards in Week 17 against Houston.

It is a formula that has worked for others. Tomlinson's second rushing crown included six 100-yard performances, three in the last four weeks. James topped 100 yards four times in the last five weeks to finish on top for the second straight year. Smith had three (plus a 99-yard effort) in his last five games in 1992 and four in his last five contests in 1993.

Of Henry's 3,833 career rushing yards, 1,576 (41.1 percent) have come in games played after the start of December. He has rushed for 100 yards or more ten times, six on Dec. 1 or later, including three of his top four games all-time."

In a 12-team PPR league, Henry's current ADP of 7 (RB6) lands him as a mid-first round pick, and that's an acceptable landing spot. He still gives you high touchdown equity with the ability to be a league-leading rusher. He doesn't provide the value of catching passes like the three-down running backs ahead of him. Henry rounds out the final tier of the top running backs in fantasy, with considerable drop-off after Henry with Kenyan Drake, Joe Mixon, and Austin Ekeler rounding out RB7 to RB9.