Fantasy football player profile: Darrell Henderson


(As fantasy football dives headlong into draft season, some players warrant a little extra attention. All August, Dom Cintorino and Adam Pfeifer will do deep dives into some of the notable names. Follow along with our player profiles series. Today’s profile: Darrell Henderson)

Fantasy football value 2021 – Darrell Henderson

Darrell Henderson was the Rams starting running back for most of the first half of the 2020 season before he dealt with injuries. And then rookie running back Cam Akers got healthy, played well and took over the starting job. After a great end to the year, Akers was set to enter the 2021 campaign as Los Angeles’ lead back, but unfortunately his season ended before it began after tearing his Achilles. Henderson has now been thrust into a huge role once again for the Rams and will arguably see more work than he ever has, which makes him much more interesting for fantasy than he was just a month ago. 

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When Henderson got touches last season, he was pretty productive. In fact, in games he saw at least 12 touches, Henderson averaged a solid 14.3 PPR points per game. That would have made him the RB19 in points per game last season, but there is obviously upside for much, much more, especially in this Rams offense that is likely going to be even more fantasy-friendly for running backs. For starters, Malcolm Brown, who was playing a lot on third downs and at the goal line, is in Miami, leaving just Xavier Jones and Jake Funk behind Henderson on the depth chart. The Rams have already stated that Henderson won’t play during the preseason, which shows how important he is to them ahead of the regular season. He should be the unquestioned goal line running back for a Rams offense that called run 75% of the time from inside the 10-yard line last year, the second-highest rate in football. Akers missed Weeks 3, 4, 6 and 7, and during that stretch, Henderson was fourth among all running backs in carries from inside the 5-yard line (6). And again, don’t overlook the fact that Brown is no longer on the team. The Rams were also outside of the top-10 in red zone scoring trips per game last year but with Matthew Stafford under center, this offense should be more high-powered, giving Henderson more scoring opportunities. But I am more excited about what Stafford’s presence will do for Henderson in terms of efficiency on the ground.

In 2020, Jared Goff had no desire to attack vertically. In fact, Goff averaged just 6.2 intended air yards per attempt last season, which was third-lowest mark among qualified signal callers. Meanwhile, his 5.98-yard average depth of target was also the third-lowest mark among all quarterbacks with at least 70 pass attempts. Because opposing defenses had no fear of getting beat over the top, they would often stack the box against the Rams, who, as a team, faced the 209 plays with at least seven defenders in the box last year, the third-most in football. Expect things to change with Stafford, who posted an aDOT of 8.71 yards last season and has been inside the top-five in that department in each of his last two seasons. And if you combine that with the fact that the Rams offensive line played very well last year, you begin to get even more excited about Henderson. Per FTN’s advanced O-line stats, Los Angeles averaged the sixth-most yards before contact per attempt last season (1.82), while ranking fifth in total yards before contact. Then there is the Rams defense, which is a top-five unit in the NFL. That should help give Henderson plenty of positive game scripts and when you put everything together, you realize that he is truly in a terrific situation for success this season. 

Fantasy football ADP stock watch – Darrell Henderson

Obviously, Henderson has seen his ADP climb more than pretty much any player in football over the course of the summer, per the FTN Fantasy ADP tool. Before Akers’ injury, Henderson was being drafted around the 10th round as a backup. He would come off the board in the same range as Alexander Mattison and Tony Pollard. Now, however, his ADP has skyrocketed to the middle of the fourth round, and I often see him come off the board much higher than that. While some believe he should be a second-round running back in fantasy drafts, I have trepidation with that ADP because as exciting as the opportunity is for him, there are still some question marks. Henderson has struggled with injuries during his two NFL seasons and in the second and third rounds, I believe there are safer selections. However, the fourth round is a perfect spot for Henderson, and he certainly has the opportunity to smash that ADP given how talented he is and how good the environment is in Los Angeles. It is entirely possible that Henderson’s ADP climbs to the third round by the end of the summer, though I can’t really argue it.

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NFL fantasy football ranking – Darrell Henderson

According to FTN’s consensus rankings, Henderson is the RB21 in 0.5 PPR formats. Personally, I have Henderson ranked as the RB19 and he usually hovers around running backs like Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders and Mike Davis. And I like Henderson more than all three of those players so if I am targeting a running back in that range, it is certainly going to be him. He is the lead back of a good offense with a good offensive line, has a clear path to goal line and pass-catching work and his defense should help give him plenty of positive gamescripts. Henderson really checks all of the boxes. 

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