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Fantasy Football Stat of the Day: Darrell Henderson season

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(Leading up to the 2021 NFL season, FTN’s Tyler Loechner will dive into the fantasy football numbers to bring you his Fantasy Stat of the Day, five days a week.)

Tuesday’s bombshell news was that Cam Akers will miss the 2021 NFL season — and put the rest of his career in jeopardy as well, damned Achilles injuries.

Today’s Stat of the Day piece will zero in on Darrell Henderson, next in line for the RB throne in Los Angeles.

If you’re looking for more reaction/impact type pieces, FTN already had you covered within hours of the news breaking, including what to do in draft if you’ve already taken Akers, the fantasy outlook for Henderson and more.

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Darrell Henderson was one of the league’s best in explosive runs

Jeff Ratcliffe summed it up best in his reaction to the Akers news: “We certainly shouldn’t be as bullish on Henderson as we were with Akers, but he’s now in the RB2 territory.”

In Weeks 3-7 last season — a chunk representing about one-third of a season — Henderson served as the top back in LA and finished as the fantasy RB16 in that stretch.

Here are four statistical areas in which Henderson excelled last season:

  • Henderson is a goal-line workhorse. This is huge for fantasy purposes. Henderson’s 11 rushes from inside the 5 last season led the Rams, ahead of Akers’ 9. Without Akers — or Malcolm Brown, who also 9 attempts inside the 5 — Henderson should push for 20-plus goal-line carries in 2021. That should put him up there with the most elite RBs in the league and give him plenty of scoring equity. If Henderson produces as a tail-end fantasy RB1, TDs will be the reason why.
  • Henderson ranks in the top 10 in big gains. Henderson had 20 rushes that went for at least 10 yards last season, tied for 18th among RBs. He gained 10-plus yards on 14.5% of his rushes, eighth among RBs, trailing Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor, Alvin Kamara, J.K. Dobbins, Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt and Damien Harris. Not bad company.
  • Henderson gained more yards than Akers on fewer carries. Henderson gained 626 yards on 138 carries, versus 625 on 145 for Akers. Akers did have a better yards-after-contact average (2.84 for Akers, 2.67 for Henderson), but those figures were close.
  • Henderson is (nearly) as elusive as Akers. Akers wins in this advanced stat, as he forced 22 missed tackles on his 145 attempts, but Henderson was close behind with 21 forced missed tackles on his 138 attempts.

The bottom line is that while Akers was set up to be a clear fantasy RB1, the path is there for Henderson to achieve similar results. Henderson should not be drafted as high as Akers — there’s a very real chance the Rams bring in veteran help — but this data shows that he’s a solid RB2 with clear upside. 

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