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Why Derrick Henry should go under his rushing yardage total in 2020

Derrick Henry had an amazing 2019, rushing for over 1,500 yards, but can he repeat his great season in 2020?

Derrick Henry #22 of the Tennessee Titans outruns Morgan Burnett #42 of the Cleveland Browns and Myles Garrett #95 of the Cleveland Browns for a 75-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio . Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry had an amazing 2019 season, as he dipped below 75 yards rushing in a game just three times on his way to 303 carries for 1,540 yards (5.08 yards per carry). If you add in his monster playoff stats, he rushed 83 more times for 446 yards.

As the 2020 NFL Draft nears, DraftKings Sportsbook has given us over/under totals on passing, receiving and rushing yards for individual players. Henry’s over/under for rushing yards is set at 1,470.5.

Prediction: Under 1,470.5

Henry played all but one game on his way to his career high, 1,540 rushing yards in 2019. If you add in his playoff usage, he had a total of 409 touches last season, which led the league, as Christian McCaffrey had 403 touches in the regular season, but didn’t play in the playoffs.

On average, a running back’s workload drops following a season with 400 touches, but most of that data is for 400 touches in a regular season and Henry has consistently seen a big workload as a runner, so, trying to predict an injury or just a general slowdown is tough, but the odds are against a running back rushing over 300 times and over five-yards per carry in back-to-back seasons.

We can also factor in that running backs take more hits than other offensive pieces, especially those that don’t catch many passes. No matter your ability to stay healthy, a 300 pound defensive lineman falling on your ankle at the wrong angle is going to take you out.

Henry does have some positives for a repeat season though, as his team’s offense is built around him picking up yardage and touchdowns on the ground and they have learned they can keep giving him the ball, even when trailing, and still come from behind if they aren’t trailing by too large a margin.

Unfortunately, the Titans lost their highest PFF graded run blocker when Jack Conklin signed with the Browns this offseason and, it will be difficult for Ryan Tannehill to lead the league in passer rating, adjusted yards gained per pass attempts and rank second in touchdown percentage again in 2020. You might say, well, that just means they’ll need to lean on Henry more, which may be true, but also means teams won’t need to worry as much about the passing game and Henry won’t be in as many advantageous running situations due to the team trailing.

If Henry can hit 300 carries again, he’ll need to gain five-yards per carry to pass the over. Of the running backs to top 1,000 yards rushing in a season over the last ten years, only Jamaal Charles has been able to have consecutive five-yards per carry seasons. Henry will likely need to stay healthy and see an increase in attempts to hit the over in 2020.

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