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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Darrell Henderson No. 44

Darrell Henderson comes in at 44 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson (27) participates in drills during mini camp held at the practice facility at Cal State Lutheran. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The world comes at you fast and for Darrell Henderson, he’s quickly gone from the backup running back to the likely starter for the 2021 Rams. Unfortunately his promotion comes after starter Cam Akers ruptured his Achilles while training and will be out for the season.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official and often updated fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 44, Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams, RB

Henderson actually had more fantasy points than Akers last season, as he ran the ball 138 times for 625 yards and five touchdowns and caught 16-of-24 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown, Akers ran the ball 145 times for the exact same 625 yards and two touchdowns and caught 11-of-14 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. But, Akers came on strong at the end of the season and ended up winning the starting job.

Competition for touches

With Akers out and Malcolm Brown gone in the offseason, Henderson has very little competition for touches at the moment. But the key phrase there is “at the moment.” They will add a veteran running back at some point. There are some bubble backs out there like Sony Michel, Royce Freeman, Justin Jackson, and free agents like ex-Rams running back Todd Gurley and old man Adrian Peterson. In the end I expect Henderson isn’t given huge touches compared to some bell-cow backs, but he should be the best back on the team and the lead.

Team offensive expectations

After a couple of down seasons offensively, the Rams let quarterback Jared Goff go and replaced him with Matthew Stafford. It’s hard not to see that as a significant upgrade after watching Goff flounder last season. Stafford isn’t an elite signal caller, but he can move an offense and he has much better offensive pieces than he’s had in Detroit recently. Akers’ injury doesn’t help the offense as a whole, but Henderson and whoever ends up as his backups should be able to get the job done.

What’s his upside?

Henderson has a lot of upside in a Sean McVay offense. His ability as a receiver and runner should keep him on the field in choice positions and there’s even been talk of getting more passing work to the backs. If Henderson can stay healthy, he could have a truly huge season.

What’s his downside?

Henderson’s downside is linked to who the Rams add to the backfield and health. Henderson is only 5’8”, 208 lbs. and the Rams don’t seem keen on making him a workhorse. But, if he can keep from nagging injuries, he could earn more time, especially if the other backs don’t show enough to take work away from him. But if they do and he is slowed down by injuries, his fantasy season could be disappointing.

Projection

250 attempts, 1,100 yards, 8 touchdowns — 40 receptions, 325 yards, 2 touchdowns