As we anticipate the start of the 2017 NFL season, the DFF Degenerates (@DFF_Degenerates) are tearing down every team in the NFL – #32teams32days. We’re going round-trip to tackle the entire country – AFC East to West, then NFC West to East. We didn’t have to do it, but we did.
Buckle up! It’s going to be a bumpy ride. We’re traveling to another dimension between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge… that’s the signpost up ahead – our next stop – the RED ZONE.
Continuing our series, we visit the
DeMarco Murray vs. Derrick Henry
@FatAdamSchefter: As much as I think DeMarco Murray will see his good share of volume, Derrick Henry will have a great year with a big 3-4 game run at the end of the year to secure himself as the next workhorse running back in fantasy football. Slowly but surely, the trend will skew back to the RB position in fantasy. Becoming more like WRs over the past 8-10 years. With David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Zeke Elliott to name a few, the workhorse RB was a thing of the past. I really think the time has come again where teams will run to win – not to just keep the lead. Henry will become a monster in this game we call fantasy football.
@DiBari22: I like Derrick Henry – just not as much as everyone else. I wrote a little thing here about how Heisman Trophy winners have fared in the NFL historically. It’s no secret it hasn’t been very good. I do think Henry can be a serviceable back for fantasy, but I don’t see him being an elite game-changer. He’s a sneaky good receiver, better than most give him credit for, and if the Titans eventually slide him into a full 3-down back role, who is getting his fair share of targets, I reserve the right to change my mind and say he can be an elite fantasy producer. But as of today, with Murray still entrenched in the lead RB role, I’m staying away from Henry in redraft.
@DFF_Walk: Take a minute to read the section on DeMarco Murray from my Aging Out feature article back in June. OK, now that you have the facts, I’ll dive a little deeper into my narrative.
Breakdown of Titan’s carries by player in 2016:
- DeMarco Murray 293 (62%)
- Derrick Henry 110 (23%)
- Mariota – 60 (13%)
- Other – 13 (2%)
Assuming Murray and Henry are splitting the same 85% of team carries in 2017, do you really believe that Murray will retain the same almost 3:1 split? I do not. Put me in for something closer to a 2:1 split which means Murray won’t be on any of my fantasy teams given his Round-2 ADP.
@DFF_Madman: Both backs will be viable fantasy players in 2017 since the Titans run the ball so much… and so well. Derrick Henry is my play. While he was only in on approximately 20% of Tennessee snaps, he had over 120 touches. That’s significant and the number of touches will not decline this season. Henry had great rookie stats and an excellent success rate. He led 2017 rookie RBs with a 98.0 pass blocking efficiency rating, allowing only 1-pressure on 38 pass block snaps (per PFF). Henry’s elusive rating was special too.
A lot of new faces at WR. So, what about Rishard Matthews?
@DiBari22: With all the attention being paid to the Titans’ offseason acquisitions, Rishard Matthews is being overlooked in the shuffle and commotion. Not to pat myself on the back (just kidding, I called it). I predicted Matthews’ breakout here prior to last season. I also felt like he was a player to watch for an increase in production as last year ended. I think the additional weapons help him as he will no longer be the team’s #1 option and will subsequently not be facing the opponents #1 corner. He should be able to build on his rapport with Mariota and take advantage of lesser defenders going forward. I’m expecting similar production to last year on fewer targets.
@DFF_Walk: Only the Titan’s offseason could have caused a player fresh off a 65/945/9 stat line to be lost in the shuffle. Titans GM Jon Robinson’s 2017 checklist was clearly focused on providing Mariota with additional weapons on offense. They drafted Corey Davis, Taywan Taylor and (my boy) Jonnu Smith, while also signing free agent TD machine Eric Decker. Let’s not forget they still have Delanie Walker to command targets. Unfortunately, I believe that Matthews 2016 totals were as much a product of necessity as talent and that we’ve seen his career season.
@DFF_Madman: It’s expected that last year’s Titans’ receivers will lose touches this year. I mean, come on. Not only did they bring in the above average Decker, they also drafted Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor (@SilentGrind2 ). Mathews and Decker will start and be the leading receivers in 2017. I see Davis becoming an elite intermediate range player for Mariota eventually. He led the nation in production on passes less than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage. However, I’m most excited about Taylor. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a better fantasy life in the short term. They can’t keep the kid off the field. Much like Stefon Diggs a couple of years ago, I tried to draft Taylor in all my dynasty leagues! I think Mari(g)o(a)ta turns Taylor into a star. He has giant hands, he’s fast and he killed the combine. A tremendously productive collegiate WR, yet he was credited with only 5-drops. He led the nation in receiving yards on deep passes in 2016. I think Davis is the more natural slot WR and Taylor is a better fit outside. Taylor was also 2nd in the nation in TDs. I started calling him Touchdown (TD) Taylor just now. You’re welcome.
@FatAdamSchefter: Will the IDP leader of the Titans please step forward? Who is it? LB Avery Williamson came in last year and recorded 73 tackles in his 3rd year of action, which was only good for the 38th best LB last year. Stats courtesy of our DFF Domination League.
Outside LB Brian Orakpo comes in at #2 for the linebacking corps, with 168 fantasy points. As for Safety, Kevin Byrd comes in with 130 points. Someone needs to take the throne and grab the IDP prize in Tennessee. Some say newcomer Jayon Brown, rookie LB/S hybrid out of UCLA can breathe some life into this defense. He is stellar in coverage and has the quickness to get tackles, but he does get eaten up by blockers sometimes. He needs to work on his leverage and strength in the pros.
Thank you for reading. We hope this helps you on your quest to find the Holy Grail of dynasty football.
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