Is Darrell Henderson A Viable Fantasy Running Back?

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Darrell Henderson #27 of the Los Angeles Rams. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Sept. 24, 2019: The Los Angeles Rams find themselves in an interesting spot at the running back position heading into 2019. Todd Gurley is still their big money back, coming off of last year’s injury-laden season. But the team has brought in fresh legs as well in the form of former Memphis running back Darrell Henderson. With Henderson’s explosive college career behind him, it’s worth asking if he can be a useful producer in fantasy football as a pro.

Henderson set records as a running back at Memphis, averaging over eight yards per carry as he helped the Tigers stay near the top of the American Athletic Conference. And with Gurley’s injury woes making many wonder if he is worth a first-round pick, Henderson might be in for a decent workload the way that CJ Anderson was for the late stages of last season and into the playoffs – while Gurley attempted to get his body right.

The problem with that situation for Henderson is the fact that he has yet to play a single snap in the NFL to this point. Outside of some inefficient preseason work, he has yet to carry the ball against real NFL defenses. And with the Rams being notorious for keeping their starters away from the field in the preseason, he really hasn’t spent any time running behind a legitimate NFL offensive line yet either.

One thing working in Henderson’s favor, aside from Gurley’s potential to get injured, is the fact that he will be familiar with the offensive style put in place by Rams head coach Sean McVay. The Rams run a lot of inside zone running action, which is the same style of runs that the Memphis Tigers used so often with Henderson. That style of running usually takes time to develop, whereas Henderson should be able to contribute right away thanks to his experience.

This coming season, the Rams are expected to be near the top of the NFC yet again. Many NFL picks for division winners have the Rams sitting pretty atop the NFC West for another season. And frequently winning games like they did last year could result in some garbage time carries for Henderson as well. That and his experience in an inside zone heavy offense could see Henderson put up numbers from the first week of the season.

As for the decision on where to draft Henderson, that all depends on need. Leagues with more teams in them might see Henderson go sooner because a quality backup running back means more in those leagues than in leagues with deeper waiver pools. But in a standard league, Henderson could be a gem of a pick in the early second half of a draft where securing depth at the skill positions matters more than does picking up defenses  and special teams.

While it’s unlikely that Henderson will average another eight yards per carry as a pro, his ability to get into the secondary from the backfield is a skill that can’t be ignored. And if fantasy owners can snag him without reaching for him, they could also snag themselves a fantasy football title.

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