Fantasy Implications: Derrick Henry vs. Dion Lewis – by Tyler Belawske

The days of the single, every-down running back in the NFL is slowly coming to an end. Many teams are replacing this with the scheme of running back by committee (RBBC). One running back will carry the ball for first and second down and then another running back will come in to be the pass catching or pass blocking back on third downs. Some teams will even have a back dedicated to punching the ball over in goal-line situations.

So when it comes to your fantasy team, where do you start? Do you take the single, every-down back or do you take back from a committee and hope you can get the other one later in the draft? Two of those running backs in a RBBC are Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis from the Tennessee Titans.

When the Titans let DeMarco Murray go this off-season they brought in Dion Lewis to compete for the starting job. This move had everyone in the fantasy industry shaking their heads over what to do with both Henry and Lewis. Well, let me help you to decide what to do with them both, as I breakdown their games.

Derrick Henry –  ADP – 3.02

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

2018 will be Henry’s third year with the Titans. Both years he sat behind DeMarco Murray, so this will be his year to shine after they let Murray go, or will it? They brought in Lewis to carry some of the load in the running and passing game. Henry’s stat line from last year was 176 attempts, 744 yards, 5 rushing touchdowns and 11 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers would have gone way up if he was the lone back on the team, but he’s not.

At his current ADP, drafting him as your number one running back maybe a little risky. It would be better to position him as a RB2 and draft your RB1 in the first round. But if you draft WR in the first two rounds, he’s still not worthy of the RB1 tag. He is a big-body back that can bowl you over and has the footwork and burst speed to get through the line. Despite this, that doesn’t make him an RB1 for your team. I would draft him any round after the fourth round as my number two running back.

Stat prediction: 690yards/7 TD’s; 5 rec./100 yards/0 Rec. TD.

Dion Lewis – ADP – 6.01

Photo Credit: AP Photo / Michael Dwyer

Lewis put up his best rushing stats and his second best receiving stats of his career last year with the New England Patriots. He accrued 180 attempts, 896 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns with 35 catches, 214 yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns in a very crowded backfield, and his numbers will go up this year with the Titans. Even if he isn’t the true number one back in this RBBC, he will get the touches and reps to put up running back one numbers.

He is a small, quick back who can hit the holes and burst through to the secondary. When you add his receiving skills to the mix, Lewis will be a great PPR running back two for you. Drafting him after the 6th round will be a perfect steal for you based on how your first five picks go. If you do take him before the 6th round, you maybe reaching a little bit, unless you are on the ends of the draft where it’s ok to reach a little because of the long wait between your picks.

Stat prediction: 1,050 yards/5 TD’s; 45 rec./325 yards/5 rec. TD’s.

If you had asked me to pick one of these running backs before free agency started I would have picked Derrick Henry. At the time he was the number one in Tennessee, and nobody knew where Lewis was going to land. But something is telling me that something maybe wrong with Derrick Henry, and it’s not necessarily physical. How does he go from the potential number one on the team with his stats going up every year, to now in a RBBC? Running a committee scheme is the new hotness these days but Henry has the body and the ability to carry a full workload. With his ADP and stat projection, I am going to take Dion Lewis all day. Lewis will be a great fit on your team, particularly if you play in a PPR league.

By Tyler Belawske – @TylerBelawske


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