The Titans were just keeping Derrick Henry fresh. After averaging 11 carries the first 12 games of the season, Henry has gotten the ball 50 times over the past two weeks. The result? 408 yards and six touchdowns. And, of course, two thumping Titans victories.
Henry entered Week 14 yet to even have a 60-yard day on the ground. Now he’s 11th in rushing (882 yards) as the Titans fight for their second-straight playoff appearance. Henry is averaging 8.16 yards per carry as he has transformed into Eric Dickerson. Only seven quarterbacks are averaging that many yards per attempt during the same timespan.
Henry has put the Titans’ offense on his back, something he did at Alabama en route to winning a Heisman Trophy. Why has it taken three years for the 2016 second-rounder to get this kind of opportunity in Tennessee? The cliché about Henry’s game is that he gets stronger as the game wears on. This has actually not held true on a per-half basis, as Henry is averaging more yards before the break (5.23) than after (4.76).
For the season? It holds up there. Henry averaged 3.33 yards per carry in games 1-8. For 9-14, that number has exploded to 6.61. As defenses grow increasingly injured and tired, Henry beats down the door like a life-sized bowling ball. Even if you throw out Henry’s NFL-record 99-yard touchdown from Week 14, his numbers (49/309/5/6.30) over the past two weeks have been absurd.
Does this mean the Titans were smart to ration his workload for three months? Probably not. This is, after all, a man who stole a Wild Card playoff game from the Chiefs only 11 months ago as he rumbled for 23/156/1/6.78 in Kansas City. Many observers have long believed Henry had this kind of football in him. Instead of pillioring the Titans for being late, let’s just be happy they have finally gotten with the program, even if it took a 99-yard score to catch their attention.
What if this is simply a random hot streak? Well Henry will have an excellent chance at keeping it going for Week 16 against the Redskins, who have been gutted for 1,011 yards on 183 carries (5.52) over their past seven games. That includes Sunday’s disappearing act from the pathetic Jaguars. Throw in an early 10-point line in favor of the Titans, and you have a dream setup for a player in the midst of a dream run.
Five Week 15 Storylines
Jared Goff has third-straight shaky start as Rams notch first losing streak of Sean McVay era. Goff was held scoreless as the Rams laid a massive home egg to the Eagles. He now has just one score compared to seven interceptions over his past three games, a span in which the Rams have gone 1-2. The streak has dropped Goff’s YPA from a sterling 9.31 to 8.34. Goff has not cleared 6.28 since Week 12. Most disturbing about Sunday’s performance was that it came against an Eagles secondary down to fourth- and fifth-stringers. For Week 16, the Rams must travel to Arizona, where the Cardinals field one of the worst teams in football but also one of its best pass defenses. Only four teams are permitting fewer weekly quarterback fantasy points.
Dalvin Cook welcomes himself to the season. Cook was in the right place at the right time, cashing in a golden matchup in an offense that wants to re-establish its rushing bonafides heading into the postseason. Cook’s 136 yards on the ground were a new career high, keying a closer-than-it-looks 41-17 victory over the Dolphins. Cook’s big afternoon came as Kirk Cousins continued to play highly-uneven football. Cook was one carry away from his first 20-tote day of the year. That will be his over/under for Minnesota’s must-win tilts with the Lions and Bears over the next two weeks. Neither team has a pushover run defense, though Week 16 foe Detroit is the more exploitable matchup. Cook will once again find himself on the RB1/2 borderline.
Tyler Boyd departs early vs. the Raiders. Boyd could make it just 39-of-80 snaps before being forced to the sideline. Thankfully, the third-year pro accrued 38 yards before going down, bringing him 28 clear of his first 1,000-yard campaign. With only two games remaining, that is probably going to be the number Boyd finishes on. The Bengals have been officially eliminated from playoff contention and have little incentive to rush Boyd back to catch passes from No. 2 quarterback Jeff Driskel. 24 and headed into a contract season, Boyd has given the Bengals a lot to think about as age and injury begin to catch up with A.J. Green. At the very least, Boyd has proven himself capable of being an above-average No. 2.
Robert Foster keeps on truckin’ for the Bills. An undrafted free agent out of Alabama, Foster posted his third 100-yard game in five contests. Foster already has more yards as a Bill (468) than he did his entire time in Tuscaloosa (389). (Thank you Jim Nagy.) Stunning. A genuine deep burner (4.41) with an imposing frame (6-foot-2, 196 pounds), Foster has probably already played his way onto the 2019 53-man roster. He can run clear-out routes while actually making plays on them. He’s a perfect fit with Josh Allen’s cannon-armed skill-set. Foster will probably never be more than a WR3 in fantasy, but he can play an important real life role for a team with precious few building blocks on offense.
Josh Allen stays fun. We remain a long way away from “actually, Josh Allen is good.” Let’s just stick with “fun” after Allen guided the Bills to the their fifth win of the season against the hilariously-bad Lions. Truly Tebow-ian, Allen is averaging more yards per carry (6.74) than attempt (6.46) while completing only 52.2 percent of his throws. That is not sustainable. Allen is hitting enough big plays as both a passer and runner to keep hope alive headed into his first pro offseason. The first order of business will be getting an actual supporting cast. Foster is fun, but he should be a No. 4 receiver right now, not a No. 1. It’s remarkable Allen has succeeded to the degree he has considering the lack of talent around him. That he has not had his confidence fried speaks to his upside. But his downside has not disappeared, not by a longshot. This is a player who needs to get better at every single facet of quarterbacking in 2019.