ESPN’s Adam Schefter sent shockwaves through the football world Monday morning, announcing Titans running back Derrick Henry suffered a potential season-ending foot surgery on Sunday. It has since been reported that Henry will miss the next 6-10 weeks, likely return near the later end of that timeline.
And just like that, the league-leading fantasy football scoring entering Week 8 is likely done for the fantasy season. It’s a devastating blow for Henry owners, as the workhorse was also projected to be the top ranked running back the rest of the season.
The injury comes as Henry was on a record pace in terms of rushing yards and usage. Through nine games this year, Henry has a whooping 237 touches — 72 more than the next closest Najee Harris — while making up 79.3 percent of the Titans’ rushing yards this season. It seemed heavy workload may have been wearing down the league’s leading rusher as he has averaged just 2.7 yards per carry over the last two weeks.
As Henry underwent surgery Tuesday morning, fantasy owners will now focus their attention to what the Titans will do next in the backfield.
Tennessee’s only true running back on the active roster is Jeremy McNichols, but the five-year veteran has made his living as more of a receiving back. McNichols should certainly see a larger role, but has never had more than 11 carries in a game. For fantasy owners, he’s certainly worth an addition, but don’t get too carried away if the asking price starts getting too high.
Besides McNichols, the Titans already brought in a new face into the mix in future Hall of Fame Adrian Peterson. Peterson was signed to the practice squad on Monday and will be elevated to the active roster in the near future.
The veteran projects more as Henry’s replacement (although nobody will replace his production and volume) as a traditional ball carrier. Peterson carries RB2 value as he is currently the main back Tennessee brought in as replacement. D’Onta Foreman was also added to their practice squad on Tuesday, making him a necessary add as well.
To recap, it may be best to be patient in a situation that seems urgent. Peterson seems to have the most value going forward as their true runner — with Foreman potentially in the mix — while McNichols will maintain his third-down role and see a slight increase of snaps on second-down.
Now, beyond the Derrick Henry debacle, let’s dive into some more takeaways from Week 8.
Boston Scott leads Philly rushers... Will Kenneth Gainwell was the more popular add on last week’s waiver wire, it was Scott who put up the fantasy production against the Lions. Scott dominated snaps and touches until the Eagles were up 24-0, proving his worth as the starter in this version of the Eagles’ offense. Between this performance and his four starts last season, he has proven to be a reliable option at the position. He is a capable RB2 while Sanders is sidelined, especially next week against the porous Los Angeles Chargers run defense.
Kamara vs. Ingram... Kamara owners certainly had some worries when the team brought back veteran Mark Ingram, but if Week 8 forecasts the rest of the season, Kamara still will operate as the bell cow. Ingram played 20 total snaps compared to Kamara’s 49, but the red zone snaps is what should have Kamara owners feeling relieved:
- Kamara: eight pass snaps (ran five routes) and six rush snaps
- Ingram: three pass snaps and one rush snap
Elijah Mitchell runs wild... I love me some Eli Mitchell. After a bit of a rough stretch after his strong Week 1 performance, Mitchell is back as the 49ers lead back. The rookie has now run for a league best 244 yards over the past two weeks, dominating the workload in San Fran’s backfield as well (18 carries compared to JaMycal Hasty’s three), and finding the end zone twice. Mitchell is now a must-start for fantasy owners until proven otherwise.
Michael Pittman a potential league winner... Pittman put up his best fantasy performance of the season as he saw season-highs in targets (15), receptions (10), and touchdowns (2). Entering the week, Pittman ranked third in the league with a 95 percent routes run per drop back, per PFF, and his performance this week did nothing to hurt that number. Pittman’s numbers should see no decline - especially as T.Y. Hilton has already been ruled out with a concussion for Week 9 - and he has a favorable schedule down the stretch. He has league winning potential.
Carlos Hyde hype... With James Robinson nursing a “heel bruise”, Hyde offers value for those running back needy teams if JRob cannot suit up next week. Hyde will operate as the true RB1 for Jacksonville if Robinson misses time, which would come with RB2/FLEX appeal for fantasy owners. Filling in for Robinson this week, Hyde saw nine rushing attempts for 32 yards and added six receptions (eight targets) for 40 yards. The pass catching volume was a bonus, but with little depth behind him on the depth chart he can be used in a pinch if needed.
Pat Freiermuth rising... It's no secret the tight end landscape is quite barren in the fantasy world, which means Pat Freiermuth could be worth a look. The third highest scorer at the position this week has now seen seven targets in two straight games while playing a 77.9 percent snap share this week against Cleveland. He’s Pittsburgh’s primary pass catching option at the position over Eric Ebron and Big Ben Roethlisberger continues to look his way (17.7 percent target share). He a must add for those (many) managers who need a tight end.
DeVante Parker returns... Returning after a three week absence, Parker returned to the same role he fulfilled earlier in the season. Parker’s 11 targets (28.2% target share) was second highest on the team, as he has know recorded at least seven targets in every game he’s played this season. He remains productive when healthy and has an extremely favorable matchup next weekend against the Houston Texans.
That is all for this week’s recap. Leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter @iambrianhines if you have any questions about your fantasy team!