Editor’s Note: The season is just beginning for DLF! We continue our 2019 Early Look series today as the new year really puts our rookie coverage into high gear. Enjoy all we have to offer in the upcoming months and thanks to all of you for making DLF the world’s number one dynasty fantasy football site.
AS A RECRUIT
Darrell Henderson was far from an elite high-school prospect, signing with the Memphis Tigers as a three-star recruit (0.8058 247Sports composite score). According to MaxPreps, Henderson ran for 4,277 yards and 56 touchdowns on 579 carries as a junior and senior at South Panola High School.
While Henderson had the high school production, he ranked only as the 1,905th player in the country, 159th running back, and 42nd player in the state of Mississippi. He received offers from Georgia State, Middle Tennessee State, and Southern Miss before ultimately signing with Memphis. Henderson also showed interest in Georgia, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss but never received an offer from the Power 5 schools.
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Henderson was Memphis’ third-string running back as a true freshman but ended second on the team in touches. He worked behind Doroland Dorceus and Patrick Taylor Jr., but his ability in the receiving game allowed him more touches than Taylor. Ultimately, Henderson averaged 5.5 yards per carry, totaling 482 yards and five touchdowns on 87 carries. He also added 20 receptions for 237 yards and three touchdowns through the air, as well.
He took a step forward as a sophomore, but still split carries with Taylor. Ultimately, Henderson was the most productive running back on the roster, totaling 1,380 yards and 11 touchdowns on 154 touches. He averaged 8.9 yards per carry to go along with 9.4 yards per reception. Henderson ranked only second on the team in total yards behind wide receiver Anthony Miller, who has since been drafted by the Chicago Bears.
As a junior, Henderson split carries once again as, but this was his first time leading Memphis in touches. He also led the team in yards and touchdowns. For the second season, Henderson averaged 8.9 yards per carry, totaling 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns on 214 carries. He also recorded 19 receptions for 295 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver in 2018.
Henderson needed only three seasons of play to total 4,303 yards and 44 touchdowns on 494 touches. Keep in mind, he saw a very limited role as a freshman as well.
There isn’t a ton of reliable information on Henderson’s athletic profile because of his lack of recruiting out of high school. He is listed at 5’11” and only 200 lbs., which is far from the traditional frame of a workhorse running back in the NFL. With that being said, 387 touches over his last two season, including 233 touches last season, suggesting his body could potentially handle a larger workload at the NFL level.
Henderson is only expected to run a 40-yard dash in the 4.5s at the NFL Combine. While that may be the case, he is significantly quicker than he is fast. His 40-yard dash may fail to impress but he should excel in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, while also finding success with his acceleration in his ten-yard splits. Studying Henderson’s tape, it’s clear he utilizes his elite quickness and burst significantly more than his speed, and this will be touched on a bit more below.
- Quickness; Change of direction
- Receiving ability
- Production on “limited” touches
- Elusiveness; Work in space
- Size; Questions about his workhorse potential
- Pass protection
Henderson’s draft projection is a bit up in the air at the moment. He’s tentatively expected to be drafted in the third round, but that could change in an instant. If a team feels comfortable with Henderson’s size, his abilities and production at the collegiate level could open the door for him to be drafted in the second round. With that being said, Henderson could also fall because of his lack of size. The only sure-fire bet at this point is that Henderson will not be drafted in the first round.
Henderson’s dynasty value is as open as nearly anyone in the NFL Draft this season. His value will depend on where he is drafted and what round he is drafted in. The situation will be the most important. At this point, there are a few teams that stick out as elite situations for Henderson.
He could take over Kareem Hunt’s old role in the Kansas City Chiefs backfield, forcing him into an elite fantasy situation. The San Francisco 49ers are another offense that could benefit from the addition of Henderson, if they’re willing to move on from Jerick McKinnon. With that being said, Henderson could fall to the later rounds, where teams with more established running backs could take a flier on him. If that’s the case, he’ll lose quite a bit of value, as he’ll only see limited touches each week.
The round Henderson is drafted in is also extremely important, as the earlier he’s taken in the NFL Draft, the more likely he is to find a major role in the offense. Teams simply don’t waste early picks on players that they aren’t willing to find a role in the offense for. The farther he falls, the more likely he’ll end up in a scenario where he isn’t guaranteed a role. Henderson has the talent to become a high-end fantasy running back throughout his career, but only in the right situation. At this point, his potential makes him a reasonable first round pick in rookie drafts, but understand that he comes with quite a bit of risk as well.
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