There aren’t many running back situations in the NFL today where there is just one guy who is guaranteed to get the vast majority of the carries. The Tennessee Titans are one of the few with Derrick Henry. Assuming he stays healthy, King Henry should account for 90%+ of the Titans' running back touches.
There were plenty of questions about Henry coming into the 2022 season. He had missed the majority of the 2021 season with a broken foot. Some people were concerned he would not have the juice that he had shown in 2020 when he rushed for 2,027 yards. While Henry might not have been 100% of that guy in 2021, he still finished the season with 1,538 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. It is also important to remember that he did that behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
You also have to remember that he missed the Week 16 game against the Dallas Cowboys and that he played two games with Malik Willis at quarterback. The Titans had zero passing threat in those games and Henry rushed for a combined 334 yards in those two games.
The best-case scenario for Henry in 2023 is that he once again rushes for over 2,000 yards and scores 15+ touchdowns. The offensive line will be better than it was last year. The Titans upgraded the weapons on the outside with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. When Henry ran for 2,027 yards in 2020, the Titans had two receivers, A.J. Brown and Corey Davis, finish with more than 900 yards receiving. Hopkins and second-year receiver Treylon Burks will give the Titans a similar threat on the outside.
They also showed some plays in the OTAs where they were throwing the ball to Henry down the field. He had career-highs in catches and targets in 2022. He has talked a lot about wanting to become better as a pass catcher. We could see that come to fruition in 2023.
The worst-case scenario for Henry is that Father Time catches up with him. Running backs tend to fall off the cliff after the age of 30. Henry doesn’t turn 30 until January, but he has more mileage than most running backs. He has amassed 1,249 carries over the past five seasons. That’s a huge number!
With that being said, it is important to point out that Henry is not like most running backs. He is 6’3, 247 lbs., and takes really good care of his body. When most running backs start to wear down in November and December, Henry gets stronger.
Henry has a really good chance to win the NFL rushing title in 2023. He probably ends up getting fewer carries than the 349 he had in 2022, but the offense will still run through him. He should end the season with a line that looks something like 320 carries for 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns. You can tack on another 30 catches for 330 yards and 3 touchdowns to that line. He will easily return first-round value with those numbers.
Tyjae Spears will be the running back to handcuff with Henry. The Titans spent a third-round pick on Spears in the 2023 draft. He will be used mainly as a third-down back when Henry is healthy but would be the guy they would lean on if something were to happen to the King.
The Titans will have a few fantasy-relevant players this year. WR Treylon Burks looks poised for a breakout after a rookie season that was cut short due to injuries. WR DeAndre Hopkins is still going to demand the lion’s share of the targets.
One guy to target in the later rounds of your fantasy draft is TE Chigoziem Okonkwo. The Titans could not really seem to figure out how to use him last year, but he was really good when given the chance. He caught 32 balls for 450 yards and 3 touchdowns in limited action last year. He was a big-play machine and should be a much bigger part of the 2023 offense.