Tennessee tailback Derrick Henry won the 2019 NFL rushing title with an epic Week 17 effort. Can he repeat this year? Here are Henry’s odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season as well as his over/under yardage total.
The last running back to win the Heisman Trophy in college football? That would be Derrick Henry in his 2015 junior season. Playing in all 15 games, he rushed for SEC records 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on 395 carries. In addition, he scored at least one touchdown in each game and beat out fellow Heisman out finalists Christian McCaffrey and Deshaun Watson. Henry also won the Doak Walker Award.
There was nowhere to go but down after that monster year so Henry declared for the draft. The Titans took him at No. 45 overall. Henry began his rookie season as the backup running back to veteran DeMarco Murray and also split carries with Murray in 2017. In the team’s Wild Card playoff victory at Kansas City on Jan. 6, 2018, Henry recorded a franchise postseason record of 191 scrimmage yards (156 rushing, 35 receiving).
Henry really broke out as the featured back in 2018. He set single-season career highs in carries (215), rushing yards (1,059), rushing long (99), and touchdowns (12). Henry named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 13 after collecting a franchise-best 238 rushing yards with a franchise-tying four rushing touchdowns against Jacksonville.
In that Jags game, Henry had the second 99-yard touchdown run in NFL history (Tony Dorsett). The run also set the mark for the longest touchdown run in franchise history and tied for the longest scrimmage play in NFL history. He also became the second player in NFL history with a rushing touchdown of at least 90 yards and a rushing touchdown of at least 50 yards in the same game (Chris Johnson).
Henry also became the seventh player since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger with at least four rushing touchdowns and at least 200 rushing yards in a game (Clinton Portis, Barry Sanders, Doug Martin, Jonas Gray, Mike Anderson and Corey Dillon). Henry became the first to accomplish the feat in fewer than 20 carries (17).
Last year, Henry entered Week 17 trailing Cleveland’s Nick Chubb by more than 100 yards for the NFL rushing title but Henry stole that by rushing 32 times for 211 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Houston. He was a monster in the playoffs, too. Henry rushed 34 times for 182 yards and one touchdown in the Titans’ road Wild-Card upset over the Patriots.
The next week, Henry rushed 30 times for 195 yards in Tennessee’s Divisional Round stunner at top-seeded Baltimore. Henry became the league’s first running back since the merger to rush for at least 180 yards in three consecutive games, simultaneously finishing as the first in NFL history to run for 175-plus in the same postseason. In the AFC title game loss in Kansas City, Henry rushed 19 times for 69 yards and a score.
Henry was set for free agency this offseason, but the Titans slapped the franchise tag on him. Henry will make roughly $10.2 million this upcoming season barring an extension. The teams have until July 15 to agree to a long-term deal.
“He wants to get something done,” GM Jon Robinson said of Henry, who is currently set to play on his $10.2 million franchise tender. “We want to get something done, and we’re working toward that.” The Titans have more than enough cap space to retain him on a lucrative long-term deal.
If there’s one concern, it’s that the Titans are riding Henry too hard. He had a league-high 303 carries last season then another 83 in the playoffs. He had at least 16 touches in every game last season but isn’t used much on passing downs as Henry has totaled just 38 catches in his last regular-season 34 games.
Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith said Henry’s workload for this upcoming season “depends on how games go.” Henry doesn’t have an experienced backup as it’s currently third-round rookie Darrynton Evans.
The Titans are 2-point underdogs for Week 1 on Monday night in Denver.