Dion Lewis, More Titans' Fantasy Outlook After Derrick Henry's Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2019

Tennessee Titans running back Dion Lewis (33) runs the ball, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2018, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Dolphins defeated the Titans 27-20. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is expected to miss Sunday's contest against the New Orleans Saints, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, leaving Dion Lewis as the team's feature back. So, just how valuable does that make Lewis for fantasy owners?

Somewhat valuable, it turns out.

Henry has emerged over the past two years, though Lewis still notched 517 rushing yards with 59 receptions for 400 yards and two total touchdowns last season. Solid numbers, and a reminder that Lewis already has a role on this team, even if he's become the clear No. 2 on the depth chart.

This year he's offered a more modest 134 rushing yards, adding 24 receptions for 145 yards and a score. Henry has been so dominant as the starter, however, that Lewis has been less needed.

So while it's possible the Titans will work in Khari Blasingame to keep Lewis fresh, Henry's injury likely opens the door for Lewis to serve as the team's true feature back.

When Lewis has been given opportunities in the past, he's made the most of them. While injuries hampered him between the 2015 and 2016 seasons in New England, he accumulated 999 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in 14 games during those campaigns.

In standard-scoring leagues, that was good for around 8.8 fantasy points per contest. Not too shabby.

In 2017, Lewis stayed healthy and rushed for 896 yards and six touchdowns, adding 32 receptions for 214 yards and another three scores. That production offered fantasy owners in standard-scoring leagues around 10.3 fantasy points per game.

Keep in mind, New England was utilizing a heavy running back rotation, with James White earning most of the looks out of the backfield in the passing game. In Tennessee, Lewis will take on that role alongside earning the majority of the carries. Put simply, he is locked in place as a solid flex option with Henry sidelined.

As for Blasingame, he's too risky to trust for championship week unless you find yourself in a deeper league or desperate for options at running back. But in Tennessee's backfield, Lewis is the far safer play.