‘King Henry’ still keeping competition at arm’s length


Like many others, on the night of fantasy football drafts, Titans running back Derrick Henry was the third or maybe even fourth RB taken in almost all leagues. 

The undisputed top two were the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor and the Panthers’ (now 49ers’) Christian McCaffery. 

The guy who eclipsed 2,000 yards rushing in 2020 and has rushed for 7,807 yards over his 7 year career was an afterthought for fantasy managers, including myself. 

I ended up drafting Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp number two overall instead of King Henry, and things were looking good for yours truly. 

Until Kupp hit IR and Henry made history that would have made Walter Payton grin. 

Derrick Henry became the first running back since Sweetness with a minimum 20 rush attempts, two pass completions, a rushing score and a passing score in one game. 

I want to mention this because instead of having a starting running back every week, I have had to take part in an RB carousel that has spun furiously. 

I don’t have an absolute starter in my running back room. I started two running backs who I did not have, like almost all of my other running backs, on draft night, almost every week. 

Case in point, I am really regretting not drafting Derrick Henry. I may be sitting at a pretty 9-2 win-loss mark through 11 weeks, but the playoffs could be really tough for me if I don’t have a cemented starter at running back such as King Henry. 

Maybe my record could convince you otherwise, but I do not want to be scrambling for an RB the week of round one. 

Ok. Enough with fantasy. 

Let’s dive into what Derrick Henry has done over his amazing football career, and why the Titans are an underrated juggernaut that I once did push-ups for (a bit more on that later) 

At Yulee High School in Florida, Henry won the 2012 Maxwell Club National High School Player of the Year award following setting a new national mark for rushing yards with 12,124. Henry had 4,261 his senior year alone. 

King Henry then took his amazing rushing skills to Alabama, where he had an average of 10 yards per rush as a true freshman. 

He split reps with T.J. Yeldon his sophomore year, and then Henry put a cap on his college career with a Heisman Trophy win and Doak Walker, Maxwell, and Walter Camp Player of the Year wins (all in 2015). 

After his Heisman Win, Henry ran the rock 36 times for three touchdowns and a total of 167 yards in the Tides’ National Championship win over Clemson. 

Derrick Henry was drafted by the Tennessee Titans 45th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, and this is when his football career gets fun. 

Derrick’s carries and yards gradually increased over his first four campaigns, as he went from 110 attempts and 490 yards in his rookie year to 303 attempts and 1,540 yards in his fourth. 

That magical 2019 season for the 9-7 Titans was the “playoff push-up” one for me as a fan, as I decided that when the Titans scored against Baltimore, I would do push-ups for how many points they now had. Derrick Henry became one of my favorite players, and it was awesome to see the Titans shock the Patriots AND the Ravens back-to-back, on the road, nonetheless, to earn an AFC Championship bid. 

Tennessee was unfortunately ousted by the eventual Super Bowl winning Chiefs in this game, but I grew to really like, and remember, the Titans (movie reference intended). 

Back to the regularly scheduled program. 

It was already known that King Henry was a scary guy to tackle at this time, but where it got terrifying for defensive coaches, and players likewise, was 2020. 

COVID wasn’t able to slow down the NFL’s version of a dump truck, as he marked the best season of his career with an NFL record 2,027 rushing yards on 378 carries and 17 touchdowns. 

During this season, Henry executed one of the most spooky stiff-arms in NFL history, as 17 days before Halloween he punished Bills cornerback Josh Norman with a nasty stiff-arm for even coming close, even trying, to tackle him. 

It made the rounds instantly on the internet, as things like this do, and days after Norman’s run-in with Henry, he told Jared Quay, host of “The Rush with Jared Quay”, this: 

“I’m not shying away from no one. I want to make that clear – very, very clear. That’s just the type of entertainment (fans) want to see.” 

It is nice to see that Norman isn’t afraid of anyone, but in my opinion, if you are in front of Derrick Henry, a guy that looks and plays football like a monster truck, just get the heck away. 

Just let him go past you. I think that’s better than being ridiculed by the man himself with one of his stiff-arms. 

That’s what makes Henry so scary, too, the fact that no matter what, he is GOING to pass you. No matter if he has lots of grass in front of him or if he is in the middle of a four-man tackle party. 

Think of something you dread or once dreaded doing. Maybe it’s cramming for the SAT or ACT. Maybe it’s mistakenly stepping on the Trojan head and then getting yelled at by other students. Maybe it’s having to present that big project that is worth 20% of your final grade. 

For the adults reading this, maybe it’s doing taxes, paying your mortgage, or dealing with crappy colleagues. 

Now put Derrick Henry stiff-arming you with all of his strength next to these other things. 

“Would you rather?” truly makes you think, doesn’t it?