NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Titans tag Derrick Henry and bring stability to their projections

Like Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry is staying in Tennessee. The Titans will apply the franchise tag to their star back, which signals another year of smashmouth football in Nashville. It also means we’re going to have a major Henry debate this offseason regarding his Fantasy value.

Projecting Henry isn’t really that difficult. What’s difficult is dealing with the logical conclusion of those projections.

He saw about a 70% share of his team’s rush attempts in 2019 and was rarely targeted in the passing game. Dion Lewis has been let go, so there’s some room for an increased role in the passing game but there’s also a lot of room for regression from his 18 touchdowns and 5.1 yards per carry. 

I expect the Titans to regress towards league average when it comes to the total number of plays they run offensively, but also throw slightly more. They were outliers in both of these regards, but applying both measures means more pass attempts but nearly the same amount of rush attempts. In other words, they’re still going to run more than 90% of the league. 

At a 70% market share, I have Henry at 327 carries over 16 games. I’m projecting him at his career average of 4.8 yards per carry and still just 6% of the team’s target share in the passing game. Where it really gets difficult is the touchdowns. In 2019 Henry scored 16 times on 303 carries. His career average is once every 21 carries. So the initial projection would have been for 16 touchdowns on the ground. I don’t project players for 16 rushing touchdowns, and no other back is currently projected for more than 11.5. With that in mind, I lowered Henry’s down to 12.9, still 10% more than any other back. 

Those projections make Henry the No. 3 running back in non-PPR and No. 8 in PPR. There are plenty of ways for things to go sideways for Henry with his touch profile, but you would have to project enormous regression to knock him out of the top 10. If the Titans go add someone else and talk about splitting carries, we’ll re-evaluate.

Here’s the rest of the Titans projections, updated as of March 16.

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