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Fantasy Impact: Ravens Fill RB Need with Derrick Henry

By Steve Schwarz | 3/14/24

Derrick Henry

Henry in Tennessee

Derrick Henry has been the very definition of a “workhorse” running back for the Tennessee Titans over the last six seasons. He’s averaged 290 rushing attempts for 1,378 yards and 13.3 touchdowns during that span, despite missing eight games in 2021.

But Henry has limitations. He was almost never involved in the passing game and his workload disappeared when the Titans fell behind on the scoreboard. Over his entire eight-year Titans’ career he averaged 99.9 yards and 1.06 rushing TDs in wins and 54.9 yards and .377 rushing touchdowns in losses. That hurt his production in the barely-over-.500 Titans (66-53) but should be a bit of good news as he heads to a winning organization in Baltimore (66-33 since 2018).

Henry in Baltimore

Henry will be the “thunder” in the Baltimore running attack with QB Lamar Jackson and RB Keaton Mitchell (when he returns from a 2023 Week 15 ACL injury late in the season) the “lightning.”

Two things might hold back Henry’s fantasy value. First, he’s not likely to average 300 rushing attempts for his new team. Over the past five seasons, no Ravens running back has rushed the ball more than 202 times.

Second, while Henry averaged 13-plus rushing touchdowns in Tennessee, only last season’s huge effort by Gus Edwards reached that total in the last five years. Part of that is by design, as the elusive Lamar Jackson has averaged more than five rushing touchdowns over that same span.

Of course, Tennessee’s offensive line was nowhere near as good as Baltimore’s. The Titans had a 70% win rate ranking 21st while the Ravens owned a 72% win rate and ranked fifth.

We have to talk exclusively about the run games because in eight seasons Henry has caught just 155 passes (19.4 for 182 yards per season).

Bottom line

Henry turned 30-year old in January which is an early warning sign for many running backs. Particularly ones who have the usage Henry has accumulated over the past seasons as the most reliable part of the Titans offense.

In Baltimore, however, he’ll be used less but should be more efficient because he’ll be running behind a more production offensive line and surrounded by more weapons. That’s a two-edged sword. Those weapons, Lamar’s legs and a top-three tight end (Mark Andrews) for instance, will get their share of the workload near the goal line too.

Henry signed for two years though only first-year money appears to be guaranteed. That helps in that the Ravens won’t be afraid to overwork the “workhorse” if needed, particularly early on when Mitchell will not be available and it will only be Henry and third-string Justice Hill.

I’m looking for the reliable Henry (he’s played in 15 or more games in six of the last seven season) to average around 18 rushes through the fantasy playoffs while Mitchell is still sidelined. That should deliver near 280 rushing attempts for 1267 yards and 11 touchdowns worth 192 fantasy points. Add just 38 for his help in the passing game for 230 fantasy points. That total would rank him 12th in full PPR leagues last season. Keep Henry, even at his age, an RB1, albeit a low-end one.