Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, although he has yet to be a featured fantasy asset, is the rare player who will likely earn the trust of fantasy managers for Week 17. It’s a bit odd, really. We presume starter DeMarco Murray will not be available to perform through the reported torn MCL he suffered in his right knee in Week 16, leaving Henry with the expanded role that so many have been yearning for, but it’s hardly official yet. But take a look at the top running backs in the ESPN rankings. You'll see a lot of proven players there -- and then there’s Henry, who oozes upside but has mostly just teased with his talent so far.
Henry actually leads the Titans with 693 rushing yards but boasts half the rushing touchdowns Murray does, which is also a bit strange since one would have thought Murray would be the one to handle the yards while the hulking, powerful Henry would barrel in for scores. Still, although Henry showed potential last season right out of Alabama, when presented with chances, he has mostly been inconsistent for fantasy managers. This season, Murray has been the one we’ve opted for each week but Henry actually has two of the three 100-yard games between them. Henry has averaged 10 rushing attempts per game over the past two months. This week he could double that workload.
The Week 17 fantasy rankings are always a work in progress. A day ago it seemed like the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs would all sit their star players and now it’s likely only the Chiefs will do so from that group, to be surprisingly joined by the upstart Los Angeles Rams. But Week 17 isn’t merely about guessing on which star players will be given an opportunity to perform. Sometimes it’s about looking into the future, even if the lineup change is a forced one, as it is with the Titans.
Ultimately, the Titans wanted Murray in this lead role. Now, who knows if he takes another handoff for them. Henry is a potential star in this league, big and bruising but with speed as well. They should see how he performs, and if Week 17 goes well, it should force Tennessee's hand for 2018. If Henry is promised a heavy workload and Murray is somewhere else, you're looking at a potential RB1 in drafts. For now, we worry about Week 17. One more game. Henry gets his chance. Certainly we will be intrigued!
As we combine our final Karablog entry of 2017 along with a reaction to the Week 17 staff rankings and a look towards what to watch this weekend, let’s make it easy and go position by position. Have a Happy New Year!