Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson excelled while filling in for an injured Cam Akers last season. However, he was unable to sustain his early success, losing his job to Sony Michel and, eventually, a returning Akers. With Michel gone and Akers healthy, what can fantasy football managers expect from Henderson in the 2022 season, and is he a good value at his current ADP in fantasy football drafts?
Darrell Henderson’s fantasy outlook for 2022
Henderson averaged 13.6 PPR fantasy points per game last season. On the surface, those numbers look “fine.” However, Henderson is a special case where we can’t just look at the final numbers given how his season went.
After Akers tore his Achilles in the summer, Henderson was anointed as the primary back. Over the first 12 weeks of the season, Henderson averaged more than a 75% snap share. He was a true three-down back and a borderline RB1, averaging 15.7 ppg.
Unfortunately, Henderson got hurt in Week 12, opening the door for Michel to get his chance. That’s all Sean McVay needed to see. Michel proved just as capable of being the lead back, which gave McVay another excuse to do exactly what he’s done since drafting Henderson: bury him.
Henderson is a very competent running back. He averaged a career-high 4.6 yards per carry last season and ran a career-best 22.4 routes per game over the first 12 weeks of the year. Twenty of Henderson’s 149 carries went for 10+ yards. When given the opportunity, Henderson is a productive fantasy asset.
How the Rams’ depth chart impacts Darrell Henderson’s fantasy projection for the season
I will never understand why the Rams hate Henderson, but the evidence is overwhelming. Los Angeles selected Henderson early in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. During this season, they had a completely washed Todd Gurley. Henderson touched the ball just 43 times.
In the 2020 draft, the Rams spent a second-round pick on Akers. After opting not to start Akers immediately, who did the Rams turn to? Plodding journeyman Malcolm Brown.
Henderson saw at least 10 carries in seven games that season. He averaged 12.5 ppg in those games. Yet, when an injured Akers returned, he was immediately given the job over Henderson, who averaged just a 26% snap share over the final eight games of the season.
With Akers out and Brown in Miami, the Rams had no choice but to use Henderson entering the 2021 campaign. Yet, the moment Henderson opened the door for Michel to prove he was just as capable, the Rams turned their backfield entirely over to Michel. Then, when Akers miraculously returned for the postseason, he resumed his duties as the lead back.
Henderson’s position on the depth chart remains where it was last season
Heading into the 2022 season, the Rams have a healthy Akers. Henderson is presumably the primary backup with Michel in Miami, while Day 3 pick Kyren Williams is the RB3. I don’t want to believe that the slow, unathletic Williams is a real threat to Henderson’s RB2 role. However, I cannot ignore the obvious message the Rams have sent regarding their opinion of Henderson over the past three seasons.
Ultimately, LA’s offense will look a lot like it did last season. Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp are back. Robert Woods is gone, but Allen Robinson is perhaps an upgrade at the WR2 spot. This will be a consolidated attack with the ball funneling through Kupp, ARob, and the starting running back.
If Henderson gets a chance, he will thrive. The question is, does that upside even exist? If Akers gets hurt or continues to be as ineffective as he was after returning last season, will the Rams turn this backfield over to Henderson? This uncertainty clouds Henderson’s fantasy outlook.
Darrell Henderson’s ADP for 2022
Henderson’s ADP is around 130th overall. He’s being drafted as a mid-RB4 (RB42). This feels low for a guy that was putting up RB1 numbers during his time as a feature back, but the concerns about his role justify it. When it comes to PFN’s consensus 2022 PPR fantasy rankings, Henderson is the 109th player overall as the RB44.
Yes, Akers is back, but there’s a nonzero chance Akers just can’t play football at a high level anymore. If Akers looks like he did in the playoffs, I can’t fathom McVay doesn’t turn to another back at some point.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that Henderson is still the primary handcuff. He probably is, but we’re a lot worse at predicting handcuff usage and performance than we like to admit. Consider Henderson a high-upside RB4, but one with a lot of question marks.