AFC South

Who to Draft: Derrick Henry vs Leonard Fournette – A. Haage

by Anthony Haage

Derrick Henry may have caused some headaches at the beginning of the season, but as the season progressed his true potential began to shine through. Henry had a bunch of dead points in the fantasy playoffs since he wasn’t even worth rostering for three quarters of the season. Between weeks 12-16, Henry went off for 718 yards on 113 carries (6.35 YPC) and 8 TD’s.

To put his year into perspective, the first ELEVEN weeks of the season, Henry rushed for 341 yards, and 4 TD’s. Henry was a completely different player in the last four weeks and was better than he was the entire season. His random explosion out of nowhere is the biggest issue when determining if you want to draft Derrick Henry because inconsistency is a huge factor and you want the most consistent players, especially in the first 3-4 rounds of your draft.

Leonard Fournette, on the other hand, has different fantasy related issues. Fournette has only played 21 of 32 total possible games with ankle, hamstring, and foot issues. Fournette has showed promise but has had seasons rattled by injuries that prevented him from dominating the league. When you think of Fournette, the amazing highlight plays come to mind and make you think he could be the next Adrian Peterson, but he hasn’t been able to withstand a whole season.

His rookie year he rushed for 1,040 yards and 9 TD’s with 302 yards receiving and one receiving TD. The Jaguars have been reliant on Fournette with their offense during his short career as he has averaged 19.1 carries per game in his two years. However, the Jags seemingly should have given him more rest, considering his injuries (which was difficult since Blake Bortles was at the helm).

The past two years, Fournette has faced 8+ defenders in the box percentage of 48% in 2017 and 35% in 2018, both have been top 5 in the league during that span. With the new signee in town (Nick Foles, 4-year, $88 million), Fournette should face less men in the box which would give him some more space to maneuver. Fournette’s 3.7 YPC can be very misleading and he has some positive outlooks going into this year.

Both players have opportunities to take the next step in their game and become first-round value players. With Derrick Henry’s ADP being around 23 and Leonard Fournette’s being around 25, they are going to be available at the same time and you are probably going to have to choose between one or the other.

I’m putting my money on Henry.

I obviously don’t like his inconsistency last year, but he has way more durability than Fournette in recent years. Henry has played 47 of 48 total possible games. Henry could be a dominate running back when given the opportunity. The Titans new offensive coordinator said, “Henry is a home-run hitter with a rare skill set,” (Rotowire). He also said Henry will be the lead back and Dion Lewis will be the receiving back instead of RBBC like last year.

I would predict Henry to get around 20 touches per game and if he finds some more consistency, he should become a reliable running back this year. You don’t want to have injury problems as that causes you to have to rely on a bench player which is not ideal when you drafted Fournette in the second round. If Henry finds the middle ground in his play from last year, his owners will be sitting pretty with a solid RB1.

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