The DLF Mailbag: Is Derrick Henry a Sell-High?

Matt Price

Welcome to the DLF Mailbag; the article series that answers *your* questions in long-form. It can be difficult to give a detailed response to your questions on Twitter so this series is designed to do just that.

Each week, we’ll do a deep-dive on the questions you have been rolling around in your dynasty mind. If you have something you’d like discussed in this format, please send me a message on twitter @MattPriceFF and include #DLFMailbag in your tweet. Let’s get into it!

@BillLatin asks…

Is Derrick Henry a sell-high?

There’s no denying that Henry was an absolute monster down the stretch for fantasy owners in 2019. He’s a player I was dead wrong about… after week seven, anyway, when Ryan Tannehill took over as the starting quarterback.

In weeks one-six, with Marcus Mariota at quarterback, Henry averaged just 69 yards per game. From week seven on, with Tannehill under center, that jumped to 125 yards per game. If you had told me Tannehill would become one of the most efficient passers in the league, posting a career-high 70.3% completion percentage and a career-high 7.7% touchdown rate, I would have asked you what you were smoking.

Tannehill, along with the emergence of AJ Brown and the rest of the passing offense, helped keep defenses honest and gave Henry plenty of running room. The Tennessee defense kept their offense playing from ahead which helped produce nice positive game scripts for Henry to get a voluminous workload.

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Henry’s ADP of 17 overall and RB9 is at his absolute peak. That, combined with his rushing production, should be enough to push his trade value into the stratosphere right? Let’s confirm using the DLF trade analyzer.

Henry comes in at 615.8 in the analyzer which is approximately equivalent to the 2020 1.01 rookie pick (500) *and* the 2020 2.06 (117.9). This feels like an absolute dream scenario and if you can get that kind of deal I’d smash accept.

I wasn’t sure you could get anywhere near that value for him though so let’s take a look at yet another amazing tool we have available for our DLF subscribers. If you aren’t familiar with the trade finder, it basically searches MyFantasyLeague for actual trades that have taken place involving the player you are searching for.

Here are some trades involving Henry that have occurred within the last few weeks.

It’s difficult to know exactly where those picks lie, but it looks like the trade finder was pretty close in terms of what Henry is going for from a value standpoint. Personally, I’d probably take the first deal because I value Fournette and Henry similarly and I add a second-round pick.

The second deal I would absolutely accept. Peterson’s trade value is essentially zero, so as long as those two picks aren’t super late, I like getting both a first and a second in return. In most cases, I’d likely even accept a single 2020 first if it was in the top third of the draft.

So why am I so down on Henry and looking to get out? It’s his role, or lack thereof, in the passing game. The 24 targets and 18 receptions he had in 2019 were both career highs and it’s difficult for running backs who rarely catch passes to provide much of a floor in weeks where they don’t get into the end zone.

Unless you believe that Tennessee will once again be playing most of their games with a lead, it’s also difficult to project Henry repeating a 300 carry workload in 2020. Don’t get me wrong, Henry will almost certainly win weeks for you in fantasy next season, but I think it’s equally likely he’ll produce more like a low-end RB2 or worse in many weeks with lines like 21 carries for 86 yards, zero receptions, and zero touchdowns, which is exactly what he did against Houston in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. 8.6 points from your RB1 isn’t getting it done in most weeks so If I can get RB1 prices, I am happy to get out right now.

So while I’m not sure you’re going to get the king’s ransom for Derrick Henry that you might expect to get after what he has done since week 15, with three straight games of at least 182 yards, I still believe that he one of the top sells in dynasty this off-season. I’m not going to give him away, but if I can get an early to mid first-round pick, I’m making that move. What I’d actually prefer to do if possible is to pivot to a wide receiver going around the same area of startup drafts.

He is going just after JuJu Smith-Schuster and Odell Beckham, and just before DJ Moore and Amari Cooper. I’d be ecstatic if I could move Henry straight up for any of those four receivers. I’d even be willing to drop even farther down the list if I needed to. AJ Brown, Stefon Diggs, Kenny Golladay, Courtland Sutton, Keenan Allen, and Cooper Kupp are all going half a round or more after Henry in our January ADP data.

That will do it for this week’s edition of the DLF mailbag. Remember, if you’d like your question featured in this space, contact me on twitter @MattPriceFF and include #DLFMailbag in your tweet!

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