This post piggy-backs off of the most recent episode, “The Truth about Fantasy RBs in 2018, Part 2.”
LaFleur before becoming offensive coordinator for the Titans, was the offensive coordinator for the LA Rams when Gurley had his resurgence year. Gurley was given the bulk of the snaps and carries while LaFleur was there. Pro Football Reference lists Todd Gurley as having participated in 76% of offensive snaps. I wanted to give this background information before I dove into this next part, which is where I go against the grain and say, I don’t think Henry’s season is his own fault and it may be early to write him off. Allow me to provide this opinion, and let me know your thoughts!
LaFleur may not be a Norv Turner when it comes to having a workhorse RB, but based on data from this season and on Gurley’s utilization in 2017, he seems to want to give 70% of the snaps to one RB. Over the first seven games of the Titan’s season, during which they got 3 wins and 4 loses, Dion Lewis received on average 63% of the snaps. Over those first seven games Lewis average 3.1yards/carry, granted Henry’s wasn’t that different early on. Lewis only saw a max of 20 rushing attempts in a game all season, whether that’s a knock on his durability in comparison to Henry I can’t say, but we all know Henry can handle 30+ carries. During their late season win streak through weeks 13-16, Henry started seeing more snaps, and Lewis started seeing less. When I say that I mean in week 13 they were 40/60 rather than 30/70, but in week 14 Henry did monstrous things which the Titans rewarded with a monstrous workload (70% of the snaps, 33 attempts) with which Henry again did monstrous things! Over the last seven weeks of the season Henry average 5.97yards/carry, obviously helped by the game against the Jags. Lewis, on the other hand, averaged less than 3yards/carry. Even after their BYE Week you can see a difference in yards/carry (Lewis less than 3, Henry greater than 5). These stats I’ve acquired from Pro-Football Reference.
In discussions Henry has always been talked about as “needing a head of steam” which I’ve translated to “their first 10 rush attempts aren’t great but they’re figuring out the opponents D-line, so don’t sleep on them just yet.” Other RBs that I would group into this category include Jordan Howard and Jay Ajayi. I was a disbeliever in Howard for so long, and of course this year when I draft him I get burned, but I don’t think he’s without talent, which is how I regard Ajayi. I’ll never forget when Jay Ajayi went on a three week rampage for the Dolphins in 2016 where he totaled 529 yards on the ground, the same way I won’t forget watching Henry’s big games. There’s something about the bruiser style RBs and patience as an OC. If you trust them and feed them they seem to get it going, but if you limit their reps they won’t establish their rhythm and won’t do what we’ve seen them do! I can’t believe that Henry, as a Heisman Trophy winner, doesn’t still have a vast amount of potential.
With the in-house hire/promotion of Arthur Smith as the new OC for the Titans, I think Henry is an intriguing and probably cheap dynasty acquisition. Dion is 28yrs old while Henry is 25. Please share your thoughts! Cheers!