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Fantasy Faces in New Places: Derrick Henry

Derrick Henry? He’s old and beat up! You don’t want him for dynasty. “Not so fast!”, says @Spydes78. Take a deeper dive into the long-time Titan, and what his move to Baltimore may mean for his value. #RavensFlock⬇️

We’ve reached the point where personnel movement has dropped considerably in the NFL offseason. In the post-draft environment, clubs have executed the bulk of their improvement plans, and rosters are pretty well established. 

Offseason programs and training camps will soon give reconstructed teams their first opportunities to battle and bond. Competition rules the summer, and depth charts will begin to take shape. 

Thus, this is an ideal time to reflect on the recent and tumultuous talent migrations throughout the NFL. Having a keen awareness of the changing landscape helps you stay ahead of the fantasy game. 

Pounce on those values before they become obvious to your league mates. Dynasty Nerds is here to help!

Hammer Time

A staple of the fantasy game for many years, running back Derrick Henry made headlines this offseason when he signed with the Ravens. The former Titan has been abusing NFL defenses for nearly a decade after entering the league as a second-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Photo Courtesy of Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire

At 6’3” and 247 pounds, Henry runs with a powerful and punishing style. He is often the hammer and not the nail. However, this bruiser has spent his fair share of time in the training room. His medicals are festooned by a litany of soft tissue injuries with strains ranging from the calf to the hamstring to the back. He also was notably sidelined by a Jones fracture in his right foot that forced him to miss half of a season in 2021.

It may surprise you to know, however, that Henry has been remarkably available throughout his career, often playing through his injuries. In fact, other than the aforementioned foot injury, which required corrective surgery, Henry has missed only three games due to injury over his eight years of NFL service. 

Though surprisingly durable, age is also a factor when evaluating Derrick Henry. He crossed over to the wrong side of 30 in January, and dynasty enthusiasts know that Father Time is undefeated. Longevity must be considered when evaluating whether a player like Henry is the right fit for your roster.

Crabcakes and Football…

So Henry has dominated fantasy scoresheets, is a physical runner who plays through pain, and is getting a bit long in the tooth. But what will his transition to the Charm City mean for his fantasy outlook? Well, there are many reasons to expect Henry to be in the ideal environment for success in 2024.

Efficiency

From a points-per-game perspective, Henry was a Top 5 PPR back from 2019 through 2022. He averaged 20.9 points per game over that span. In 2023, his points per game average dropped to 14.5. And the casual observer may be tempted to conclude that age finally began to get the best of Henry.

However, these stats do not tell the whole story. A bit of context reveals that the Titans were determined to work third-round selection Tyjae Spears into their rotation. This resulted in a backfield timeshare, in which Henry and Spears each recorded an identical number of snaps (558) during the season. 

Contrast this to the 2022 season, where Henry logged 648 snaps and the next closest Titan, Dontrell Hilliard, saw just 200. It becomes immediately apparent that Henry’s numbers were simply a victim of opportunity. Interestingly, Henry’s yards per carry average in 2023 was 4.2, the same efficiency he achieved as a 23-year-old NFL sophomore.

Opportunity

Now, turn your attention to Henry’s present situation with the Ravens. 2023 was a free-for-all for Baltimore running backs. After J.K. Dobbins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1, a motley crew maintained an uneven rotation. The patchwork effort included long-time Ravens role players like Justice Hill and Gus Edwards, as well as a smattering of contributions from aging vets such as Melvin Gordon, Kenyan Drake, and Dalvin Cook.

Gus Edwards, who has since departed for the Chargers, handled the brunt of the short yardage work in 2023. And despite inconsistent snaps, he was able to make this role quite lucrative. In fact, Edwards scored 13 rushing touchdowns (12 from the goal line) on the season, tied for fifth-best in the NFL.

Other than Henry, the Ravens’ current depth chart is unimpressive, consisting of Justice Hill, Keaton Mitchell (who is still recovering from a Week 15 ACL tear), and rookie Rasheen Ali. 

Henry’s two-year contract with Baltimore is reportedly jam-packed with participation and achievement milestones. These could pay an extra $2.5 million per season if achieved. Additionally, the deal has a potential out that would allow the Ravens to back out with minimal cap impact after one season.

Thus, the Ravens have every reason to lean on Henry heavily. And he has every reason to soak up as many carries as possible. At a minimum, he slides into a goal-line role that was quite lucrative for Gus Edwards despite vast deficiencies in talent and anticipated usage. In short, Derrick Henry will have every opportunity to return to Top 5 status in the short term.

Value

Ok, so perhaps you are now intrigued about the possibility of adding Henry to your roster. But what might that cost you?

Judging from the most up-to-date data from Dynasty Nerds, not too much. Henry currently has a startup ADP of 70.7, placing him at the end of the fifth in a 12-team league. At that value, he is the 17th most desired running back. Players like Joe Mixon (who has not achieved a points per game average higher than 7th over the past three seasons) or Kyren Williams (who faces a complicated situation with the drafting of Blake Corum) are preferred to King Henry.

The Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser shows another piece of the puzzle regarding Henry. In one recent deal, Henry was dealt for a 2025 2nd-round pick. In another, he was traded in exchange for Cleveland’s Amari Cooper. This further reinforces that folks are looking to duck out on their Henry shares. Thus, he has never been more affordable.

The Bottom Line

Because of his bruising style, you may be tempted to conclude that Henry is at risk of missing time due to injuries. However, he has been remarkably durable throughout his career, missing just 12 games over eight years, nine of which came in a single span.

He will enter the 2024 season at age 30, which is less than desirable for a dynasty back. However, there is considerable reason to suspect he may have a season or two of elite production left.

He has been a top-five running back in four of the last five seasons and was only stifled by usage restrictions in 2023. 

Contractually, Baltimore has incentivized Henry to be a consistent piece of their 2024 plan. The Ravens have no long-term investment to protect and have assembled a depth chart that offers minimal competition. Henry walks into a goal-line role vacated by Gus Edwards that was extremely lucrative a season ago.

Valued as the 17th overall dynasty back, Henry has the potential to offer tremendous return on your investment. If you find yourself at the helm of a contending team and in need of running back help, inquire about King Henry today. It’s the type of move that could lead to you being crowned dynasty champion come December.

I thoroughly enjoyed bringing you this piece and would love to continue the conversation on Derrick Henry. Please feel free to comment below or contact me @Spydes78 on Twitter. Also, stay tuned to @DynastyNerds for a steady pipeline of content from our eminently qualified staff to carry you through your offseason. Enjoy the grind!

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