It’s always a projection when a running back ascends to a starting position in fantasy football. That was exactly the case with Darrell Henderson, and he quickly became a perceived value pick in drafts. Now that we have more data to rely on, the Los Angeles Rams RB is fast moving towards “set and forget” territory as an every-week starter.
Should you start Darrell Henderson in Week 5?
After Cam Akers suffered a preseason Achilles injury that knocked him out for the entire 2021 season, attention quickly shifted towards Henderson. A third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Henderson had looked good in spells but struggled with injuries. Now the backfield was his, and expectations were high that he’d help the Rams offense challenge for a Super Bowl.
Darrell Henderson has been impressive in 2021
Through three games, head coach Sean McVay’s confidence in Henderson looks to have been rewarded. So far, the third-year back has rushed 43 times for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s also caught 9 passes out of his 12 targets for 73 yards.
The Rams will continue to be a pass-heavy team, especially given that Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp have the best relationship in the NFL at the moment. But the running game will remain a big part of L.A.’s offense — and Henderson gives them the best chance of success.
He’s the RB23 over the first four weeks of the season, despite only playing in three games. On a points per game basis, he’s the RB11 in standard scoring. In points per reception (PPR) leagues, he’s the RB21 in total scoring and the RB10 in points per game.
Henderson is the clear starting running back for the Rams
Henderson was inactive for the Rams’ Week 3 victory over the Buccaneers with a rib injury. In his place, Sony Michel was the workhorse. The former Patriots’ first-round pick rushed 20 times for 67 yards. He also caught 3-of-4 targets for 12 yards.
Henderson was listed as questionable for Week 4’s divisional clash with the Arizona Cardinals. Fantasy managers would have been forgiven for thinking injury concerns might result in a reduced workload, but Henderson picked up where he left off. He rushed 14 times for 89 yards and reeled in 5-of-6 targets for 27 receiving yards. Michel, on the other hand, touched the ball just 3 times. Rookie Jake Funk — who in the preseason looked like he might play a supporting role in L.A.’s offense — has been a non-factor.
Opportunity and volume are essential for a running back, but garnering touches in the most valuable areas of the field is just as important. Those responsibilities aren’t split in Los Angeles. Henderson is the player the team looks to in the red zone.
He’s had 8 rushing attempts inside the 20-yard line, including 6 within 10 yards and 3 within 5 yards. Those carries are the most valuable in fantasy football. He should always see scoring opportunities on a high-powered offense like the Rams, who have scored the sixth-most points in the NFL this season.
Henderson faces a struggling Seahawks defense
Henderson gets a mouthwatering clash with the Seahawks in Week 5 on Thursday Night Football. The Rams’ NFC West rivals allow the third-most fantasy points to running backs in standard scoring and the second-most in PPR scoring. No team has allowed more rushing yards or more receiving yards to the position. The Seahawks are managing to keep running backs out of the end zone, but that appears to be due more to luck than any other factor.
Despite playing last week, Henderson is still feeling the effects of his rib injury. He has been limited in practice to begin the week. The Rams could just be displaying caution on a short week, but it’s unlikely Henderson will be at 100%. However, it would be a surprise at this stage if he didn’t play. Make sure to check L.A.’s injury report and keep an eye out for any updates.
Henderson is the RB14 in our Week 5 running back rankings. He should be started where possible and has a good chance to be one of fantasy football’s top scorers this week.