The Tennessee Titans had two big contracts they needed to dole out this offseason. They gave Ryan Tannehill the big boy, long term contract, and they slapped the Franchise Tag on Derrick Henry. Given running back shelf life and Ryan Tannehill’s success was extremely short term, there wasn’t really a correct answer to that equation. Nevertheless, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry are both Tennessee Titans for at least one year. We’ve already addressed Tannehill, but what about Derrick Henry? What does his franchise tag mean for 2020 fantasy football, and the Titans?
Derrick Henry’s Franchise Tag and 2019
For the 2020 season, the running back franchise tag sits at $10,278,000. That’s not a bad one-year check for Henry, but it’s just about $1.8 million more than Kenyan Drake, so given relative talent levels, it’s not a great deal for him. Henry has no choice but to play for the Titans unless he wants to raise a massive stink; with the franchise tag, they hold all the cards. In return, Henry gets the average pay of the top-five highest-paid players at the position.
I want to say that Henry earned a longer contract, but the Los Angeles Rams just cut Todd Gurley, so my calculations about what a running back should get are a bit out of whack. Henry is one of the best running backs in the league, and despite not being a pass catcher, he still ranks as one of the best fantasy football options at the position.
Derrick Henry’s 2019 Season
Derrick Henry ended the year with 1,540 rushing yards and 206 receiving yards on 303 rush attempts and just 24 targets. He scored 18 total touchdowns. All told, that’s a great fantasy football season out of anyone. Even crazier for a one-dimensional back is that Henry had just two games all year with fewer than 75 total yards. He scored a touchdown in one of those games, so he truly had just one miserable game all year long: 15 carries, 28 yards in week six against Denver. This bears out in his weekly finishes: Derrick Henry finished as an RB1 or RB2 in half-PPR in thirteen-of-fifteen games.
Derrick Henry’s 2020 Fantasy Football Outlook
The Tennesee Titans have made Derrick Henry the only rushing game in town by jettisoning ineffective free-agent acquisition Dion Lewis. That’s great news for Derrick Henry fans, of which, I suddenly find myself. He’s so incredibly good with the football that a lack of pass-catching doesn’t concern me, at all. He was an RB1 or RB2 87% of the time in half-PPR without catching passes.
The touchdowns are a bit concerning, as that would normally raise my regression antenna. However, Derrick Henry’s monstrous production across his career precludes this. In Henry’s first three years in the league, he averaged a touchdown every 23 touches. Last year, it was one every 18 touches. That difference reduces his touchdowns from 18 to 14. Fourteen touchdowns in 2019 drops him from top-three in RB touchdowns to… top five. There is no indication that the Titans will scale down his workload. He’s going to score lots of touchdowns this year and continue to be a fantasy beast.
I’m all-in on Derrick Henry in 2020, especially considering he can catch passes, he just never gets targets. Imagine if he gets targets? He’s RB1 in 2020 without question. For now, I’m finding him inside my top-five.
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