On the precipice of training camp, the Los Angeles Rams got some seriously bad news on Tuesday morning. Running back Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles while training, and he will miss the entire 2021 season. Enter Darrell Henderson, now the only running back on the Rams’ roster with an NFL carry on his resume.
After virtually being unused a rookie in 2019 (39 carries in 13 games), Henderson posted 783 total yards (624 rushing) with six total touchdowns (five rushing) last season. When Akers was a little banged up and being eased in early in the season, Henderson was graded out as the No. 1 back in the league by Pro Football Focus through Week 8. The backseat he took to Akers late in the season obscures how well he played early.
The Rams are not panicking to go out and sign a veteran running back right away, but an addition will surely come between now and Week 1. Henderson should be operating as the lead back in what will be a very good offense regardless, and he’s now in position for a breakout.
Here are two bold predictions for Henderson in 2021.
2. At least 1,300 total yards
At first blush, 1,300 total yards might feel conservative for Henderson if he’s clearly the lead back and if the Rams’ offense rolls as expected this year. But there are a lot of mouths to feed in the passing game, and his target share might be low. So the 1,300-yard bar comes mostly from rushing output, with 1,000-1,100 yards on the ground and the rest covered as a pass catcher. To be further clear, 1,300 yards is the floor with legit potential for more.
1. A Top-10 Fantasy Running Back
From Week 2-Week 7 last year, Henderson topped 18 PPR fantasy points in three of six games with at least 14 touches five times and more than 80 rushing yards three times. Over that stretch, he was RB9 in standard fantasy scoring.
Henderson has vaulted into the top-20 fantasy running backs for many analysts in the immediate wake of Akers’ injury news. But I’m going up a notch, with no fear of any veteran addition to the Rams’ backfield. A big role and metrics that like him puts a finish among the top-10 fantasy running backs in the realm of possibilities for Henderson this year.