Let me please preface this article with explaining my mindset when I was starting to write this article on Darell Henderson. I had no prejudice or preconceived ideas on Henderson or what I thought of him. I went into this with an open mind and honestly was pleasantly surprised with what I found. I won’t spoil my entire article here, but Henderson is a riser for me. Let’s dig in!
COLLEGE CAREER AND NFL ORIGIN
Henderson came into the league from Memphis after an absolutely RIDICULOUS Junior year, posting 1,909 yards, an absurd 8.9 YPA, and a healthy 23 rushing TDs. He also tacked on 294 receiving yards with 3 TDs, along with a monstrous 15.5 yards per reception. Overall, the man had 31TDs in 3 total years at Memphis which led him to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft a year early. The Rams took him 70th overall, in the 3rd round. Nice draft capital. Rotoballers.com had Henderson ranked as the #2 RB in the 2019 class which also contained Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery, and Devin Singletary. Not a great class but it is decent company to be in.
When I watched the Henderson tape from 2020, I saw a lot of things I liked. He has very good speed (4.49 40 time according to playerprofiler.com) that he can use to get to the edge. He’s also a guy who can make house calls on any given attempt. I also liked his burst through the hole, he showed good patience, and good enough vision to be effective in the NFL. He also has a great receiver skill set that can be utilized in this offense. He shows good hands, good ball tracking, and he’s an underrated route runner. He even took snaps at WR back in Memphis. He keeps his feet moving to gain extra yards and McVay has shown confidence in him at the goal line.
Another factor that is making Henderson rise up my redraft board is the lack of competition. Even with Akers playing last year Henderson was the leader in broken tackles on the team. Right now he is up against an UDFA in Xavier Jones, and a projected Special Teams player in Jake Funk, who was selected in the 7th round. I do like Jones but he’s not jumping Henderson in the depth chart. He will have a role but this is Henderson’s backfield.
My first concern for Henderson is his injury history. He landed on Injured Reserve in both his seasons in the NFL. In fact he may still be recovering from a high ankle sprain he picked up in week 16 last year. The Rams have listed him for an “undisclosed injury.” At 202 lbs, they will have to make sure they aren’t overworking him this year. I don’t think a massive workload is in his best interest. McVay said as much in his press conference. During the presser on 7/26/21 he said “..getting some of these other guys involved and figuring out, what is that touch point to keep him healthy throughout the season and a big part of our offense? Which he’s gonna be. It’s never been an ability. It’s just, all right, is he available?” The other concern I have is the very real possibility that McVay brings in a veteran late. He firmly denies that now, but that could change quickly and without warning.
COACH TALK AND TRENDS
Sean McVay has said nothing other than Henderson is his RB1. In the same presser I already mentioned he said “No, Darrell will not play in a preseason game. I can promise you, you’re not seeing Darrell Henderson in the preseason…” This speaks volumes to me that McVay has big plans for Henderson. It also reads as major confidence in his lead back. He hasn’t wavered on this one bit, yet.
McVay’s lead back is never useless for fantasy. He even resurrected CJ Anderson for a few games when they shut down Gurley and his kneecaps, during the 2018 season. CJ ran for 299 yards in 2 games! Anderson also had 7 YPA during that magnificent 2 week stretch. Bottom line: McVay produces great fantasy RBs. Period.
I love this system for 2021 more than ever because of Matthew Stafford. He’s no Josh Allen but he is a very smart QB who will keep defenders out of the box. Henderson is seriously primed for a monster season if he can stay healthy.
The question that makes the world go round; How much? According to Rotoballers.com, Henderson is recently going around 6.10 in 12 team drafts, which would put him near guys like Travis Etienne, James Robinson, Kenny Golladay, Diontae Johnson, Myles Gaskin, and Mike Davis. I honestly feel safer with Henderson than any of the other guys. I don’t believe he’s a better RB than Robinson or Etienne currently, but I don’t trust that situation at all. He is a better RB than both Davis (3.9 YPA last year) and Gaskin (4.1 YPA), though. So if I need a RB at this point in my draft this is “my guy.” I am also ok with a full round reach on Henderson. I believe his upside in this offense is incredible. At this price he can certainly become a “league winner,” if his health complies.
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