The NFL regular season may be over, but with four more weeks of football, fantasy football doesn’t have to stop just yet. Like myself, I’m sure many of you are in fantasy football playoff leagues. For playoff formats where you have to select your entire roster prior to Saturday’s kickoff, let’s analyze the fantasy value of Derrick Henry and D’Onta Foreman for the NFL playoffs.
Derrick Henry’s Fantasy Value: The return of King Henry
We last saw Henry on Halloween. He carried the ball 28 times for 68 scoreless yards in a 34-31 win over the Colts. Henry briefly exited the game with a foot issue, but quickly returned. Following the game, we found out Henry broke a bone in his foot and was expected to miss the remainder of the regular season, which he did.
All along, the Titans’ plan was to make the playoffs and bring Henry back. Things worked out even better than expected with the Titans securing the lone bye on the AFC, allowing Henry an additional week of rest. The Titans have yet to formally activate Henry from injured reserve, but it’s coming. Make no mistake about it, Henry will play when the Titans host one of the Bengals, Raiders, Patriots, or Steelers in the second round of the NFL playoffs.
What can fantasy managers expect from Derrick Henry?
This is the playoffs. The Titans’ offense runs through Henry. It may be his first game back from a 2.5-month layoff, but I fully expect Henry to return to his pre-injury workload.
Prior to getting hurt, Henry averaged 27 carries per game and 4.3 yards per carry. He scored 10 touchdowns in less than half a season and was averaging a 72% snap share. The Titans will be favored against whoever they play in the Divisional Round. In neutral or positive game script situations (whenever the Titans either led or trailed by one score), they ran the ball 51% of the time, the third-highest rate in the league. The King is going to eat.
What does Henry’s return mean for D’Onta Foreman’s fantasy value?
Foreman began to take over the Titans’ backfield in Week 12. I don’t have much use for his stats prior to then. Since Week 12, Foreman has averaged 18.3 carries per game. He didn’t see Henry’s level of usage or snap share, but he performed admirably. From Weeks 12-17, Foreman averaged 13.4 PPR fantasy points per game. In fantasy playoff leagues, that would be useful.
When your car is in the shop and you get a rental, you drive that rental around as normal. You might even like it. But once your car is repaired, you don’t keep driving the rental. You return it and completely forget about it. Foreman is the rental car.
Not every backup running that excels gets vanquished when the starter returns. But when the starter is Derrick Henry, the backup gets vanquished. For as well as Foreman played in Henry’s stead, he will go back to being a pure breather back, only playing when Henry is tired.
Sadly, Dontrell Hilliard might be more fantasy-viable than Henry in the NFL playoffs. Hilliard has been the preferred passing-down back ahead of Foreman. Last week was the first game with just Foreman and Hilliard at running back — Hilliard ran more than double the number of routes as Foreman. My best guess is Henry returns to his 70% snap share role, handling 90% of the carries, and Hilliard operates as the passing-down back. Sadly, Foreman is likely relegated to just 2-4 carries.
Should fantasy managers put Henry on their fantasy playoff rosters?
It’s a tricky question. The Titans may be the No. 1 seed, but they are not the favorites to win the AFC. In my humble opinion, they are the weakest No. 1 seed since…well…the Titans in 2008-2009. That Titans team went right out in the Divisional Round.
Obviously, if you think the Titans are going to the Super Bowl, Henry is an absolute must for your fantasy roster. While I am not of that belief, I would still put Henry on my roster because his single-game upside is massive. Even in a loss, he could amass over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.
If the Titans can make noise in the playoffs, Henry may be RB1
I’m also not so sure the Titans go out in the Divisional Round. It’s more likely they lose in the AFC Championship Game. If I knew right now I was getting exactly two games out of Henry, I wouldn’t think twice about putting him on my roster.
As for Foreman and Hilliard, much like the Titans’ backfield prior to Henry’s injury, there can be only one king. Barring an unexpected setback in Henry’s foot, Foreman and Hilliard have no fantasy value in full-length playoff leagues or in weekly/DFS formats.