Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Darrell Henderson, RB LAR

Dwight Peebles

Name: Darrell Henderson

Position: Running Back

Pro Team: Los Angeles Rams

College Team: Memphis Tigers

Draft Status: Round Three, 70th overall

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

COMBINE REVIEW

  • Height: 5’8”
  • Weight: 208 pounds
  • Arms: 31”
  • Hands: 8 5/8 ”
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.49 seconds
  • Bench press: 22 reps
  • Vertical Jump: 33 1/2”
  • Broad Jump: 121”
  • 3-Cone Drill: 7.03 seconds
  • 20-Yard Shuttle: 4.41 seconds
  • 60-Yard Shuttle: N/A

STRENGTHS

  • Explosive – threat to take every play deep
  • Averaged nearly nine yards a carry in 2018
  • Acceleration glides into elite long speed, looks faster than tested
  • Feet are constantly moving and footwork is slick
  • Hits and spins out of contact, tough to bring down
  • Not afraid to be physical despite diminutive size
  • Potent pass catcher, catches well and scary in open space
  • 11 touchdowns of 54 or more yards in 2018 alone
  • Tracks passes well downfield and adjusts to throws

WEAKNESSES

  • A bit small for a three-down feature back
  • Runs upright and with tight hips
  • Doesn’t stack moves due to play speed
  • Needs to get better at slipping out of strong hits
  • Did not face stacked boxes or big NFL-caliber defenders much
  • Not a good pass blocker, was not even asked to do it
  • Most big plays were due to huge open spaces and featured few moves

OPPORTUNITIES

Henderson flashed in 2017, his sophomore season at Memphis, rushing for over 1,100 yards and nine scores, catching 24 passes and scoring twice more through the air. His junior season really put him on the map, launching him into the Heisman Trophy race with highlight-reel runs every week. He catapulted with 2,204 total yards from scrimmage and 25 total touchdowns while rushing for 8.9 yards per carry over 214 totes. It was one of the best seasons in the past ten years and his name quickly jumped onto the radar of those who hadn’t heard of him previously.

The Combine and Memphis Pro Day highlighted the speed and agility of the young back. He tested near the top of all the drills and tests he performed. He looked comfortable catching during drills and solidified his stock as a prospect.

The draft brought about a slide for the explosive running back, as he fell all the way to the third day. Speculation about Todd Gurley’s knee “injury” has lead to a lot of buzz around Henderson and he will be a valuable fantasy handcuff.

THREATS

The biggest hurdle to getting enough touches will obviously be Gurley. The other backs on the Rams’ payroll are Malcolm Brown, Justin Davis, and John Kelly. Brown should be the backup while the rookie gets up to speed; he’s been behind Gurley before and knows the playbook. But it won’t take long for Henderson to burst into the role and get touches in relief of Gurley.

SHORT-TERM EXPECTATIONS

The 2019 season will lead to limited touches for Henderson unless the knee injury to the Rams’ superstar back is worse than they are leading us to believe. Rarely a day goes by without more speculation, yet there has not been any concrete news which states Gurley’s knee is a concern.

The Rams would be wise to limit his touches and not test it though, and this is where Henderson could become valuable. Gurley is the top back in the league when healthy, and keeping him healthy should be a priority. Henderson could work his way into seven to ten touches a game and see some work his rookie season.

LONG-TERM EXPECTATIONS

Henderson doesn’t have the size of a typical three-down back, but he is one of the most purely explosive backs I have watched in recent years. The Rams will find a way to get him into the fold. He could make the offense even more dangerous. Gurley is the man and if he stays healthy his role at the lead back will be safe.

Henderson will contribute and has potential to be a valuable third-down back who also steals a few touches to keep Gurley fresh for the next several years. He will be a solid RB3 or RB4 for your fantasy team, with a ceiling to put up RB1 weeks if Gurley does have to miss time. A safe floor is 10-12 touches a week for 75 yards and a score every other week as Henderson becomes more integral in the Rams offense.

NFL PLAYER COMPARISON

A comparison I really like for Henderson is Giovani Bernard, who is coincidentally my favorite NFL player. They are nearly identical in size – Bernard had more college production as a pass-catcher, both had a lot of explosive plays although Bernard had a higher draft pedigree. In college, Henderson faced lesser competition and seemed to have more wide-open spaces to gash through, but they have a lot of similarities in running style and big-play ability. Henderson will excel if the Rams use him as the Bengals have used Bernard.

PROJECTED ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE

According to our Rookie ADP, Henderson is currently at 18.10 in rookie mock drafts. He is the fourth running back drafted on average during rookie drafts. Early in the draft process, Henderson could be had in the third round, but now he is going in the second round on average and I have seen him taken late in the first round. The explosive back has a chance to become fantasy relevant with the high-scoring Rams offense.

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