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2018 ADP Throwdown - LeSean McCoy vs. Derrick Henry


Fantasy football draft season is upon us and RotoBaller is here to help! In this series, two RotoBaller experts will discuss the merits of two players with similar value and average draft position (ADP). Remember that situations will change for all players over the course of the summer and it may impact where they are selected in drafts.

This article comes from staff writers Dominick Petrillo and Pierre Camus, who compare two running backs in standard formats with ADPs that fall between picks 30-40 overall in most leagues.

Dominick argues in favor of beleaguered veteran LeSean McCoy, whose draft stock has fallen recently amid personal troubles off the field and concerns about advanced age for a running back. Pierre counters by arguing for Derrick Henry, whose time as a featured back lasted all of one week with the addition of Dion Lewis this offseason. Which risk-reward RB is worth his ADP?

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Opening Statements: Who Do You Draft?

LeSean McCoy is Mr. Consistency and that's worth a lot these days  - Dominick Petrillo

Since being drafted in the second round out of Pitt by the Philadelphia Eagles, LeSean McCoy has been a stalwart in the NFL. While seemingly getting nicked up in each game, he rarely misses time due to injury and is one of the elite backs in the NFL even at age 30. In what was considered a down year in 2017, McCoy still finished the season as the seventh-ranked running back in fantasy with 287 rushes for 1,138 yards and six touchdowns. Adding to this is his receiving ability which in 2017 was to the tune of 59 receptions for 448 yards and two additional touchdowns on 77 total targets out of the backfield.

Now in the twilight of his career, he is going to be asked to be the entire offense in Buffalo. The offensive line is a mess and the receiving group is led by a player in Kelvin Benjamin who seemingly wants to eat his way out of the league. With rookie quarterback Josh Allen being the most likely starter for the Bills over A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman, it will fall to Shady to move the ball down the field with any consistency in 2018.

While it will be harder with the departure of Tyrod Taylor and his rushing ability keeping the defenses honest, McCoy will have one advantage over a player like Derrick Henry: opportunity. While a player like Henry has Dion Lewis to compete with, especially for receptions, McCoy is one of the last true three-down backs who is there even on the goal line. The only real competition McCoy has for offensive production is tight end Charles Clay. While a decent tight end, he is not a threat to the rushing production of McCoy. He is only a threat to a few passing targets here or there which may have gone to the running back. As long as Shady is healthy and remains on the field, he is in line for 250 carries and 50 receptions which will lead to double-digit touchdowns. If you can get this type of production from a known commodity at in the late third round, 3.8, you would be crazy not to do so. If you take him as your number one running back, you will have a solid veteran allowing you to take chances on players like Kerryon Johnson later in drafts for upside. If you take a running back in one of the first two rounds making McCoy your RB2? You will be in great shape allowing you to stack up on wide receivers for a major advantage over others in your league.

Derrick Henry's value is rising whether you realize it or not - Pierre Camus

Derrick Henry finally had the starting job in Tennessee to himself and a chance to show what he is capable of. Then next week came. The Titans signed Dion Lewis almost immediately after DeMarco Murray left the team (and eventually the NFL). Lewis' arrival puts him in line to share the workload with Henry, killing his chance of becoming a bell cow. This doesn't kill his value, however, nor should it be surprising. There are eight running backs that are all but guaranteed to take 65% or more of their team's rush attempts and they're all being drafted in the first round of fantasy drafts this year except one: LeSean McCoy. There's a good reason he's not close to the RB1 conversation despite being primed for a big workload, but we'll get to him later. Everyone else is in a timeshare of some sort, so once you get past the obvious first rounders, you have to decide which running back brings the most upside. Enter former Heisman winner Derrick Henry.

Henry saw a 40% market share of rush attempts last season with Murray in town, turning 169 carries into 744 rushing yards for a 4.2 Y/A average. He was only targeted 17 times in the passing game, catching 11 balls for 136 yards. These numbers don't scream "must-have player" but let's put things into context. Henry is not a PPR stud and never will be. What he is and always will be is a bruiser. When you can run a 4.5 40 time while weighing 250 pounds with a full head of steam, you're hard to stop. Despite the fact Murray got nine more carries overall, Henry saw eight more red zone rushes - a 46% market share. Swap out tough inside runner Murray for more diminutive, speedy Dion Lewis and where will that number trend? Henry could easily see 35-40 red zone carries, which means a double-digit touchdown total would be impossible to miss. You can't predict TDs, but I'll go out on a short limb to say that Henry finds the end zone at least 12 times this year. It's obvious that he carries more value in standard leagues than PPR, but that's not the debate here. The Titans have a new head coach who should better utilize the team's offensive weapons and could give Henry When it comes down to a player like Henry, who will see his workload increase, even if it's not by leaps and bounds, or a player like McCoy who could break down any day behind a bad O-line and inexperienced quarterback, Henry is not just a safer pick, he's a smarter one.

 

Rebuttals: Why Take One Over the Other?

McCoy IS his team's run offense, Henry is only half - Dominick Petrillo

While the opportunity is there for LeSean McCoy this season with a new quarterback and lack of weapons otherwise, there is still upside with Henry. A new coach could bring a new mindset to the previously stagnant offense that relied too much on the interior run game and didn't surprise defenses very often. However, Henry will not get the receiving work with the presence of Dion Lewis. Lewis will have to prove himself outside of the Patriots offense and won't get the goal-line work that Henry does, but this is a true timeshare at work. In a standard league, Henry is still a viable option whose current ADP could slip low enough to make him a good investment, but not at the same level as a yearly RB1 stud like McCoy.

Shady is a ticking time bomb with one second left on the fuse - Pierre Camus

I have to give credit to my opponent for having the courage to defend a player like McCoy, who has more red flags than a United Nations conference. He conspicuously omitted the cloud of legal trouble hanging over Shady's head, which almost certainly will lead to some sort of suspension during the season. Remember, we waited half a year for a ruling on Ezekiel Elliott, only to have him miss six games during the most crucial part of the fantasy season, despite not having been convicted of a crime. Whether you believe McCoy is completely innocent or not, it doesn't matter. The NFL will do its best to pretend it cares about domestic violence and issue a token suspension for the sake of public relations. A two-game suspension isn't a dealbreaker, but that does knock him out of the RB1 conversation and should move him below a player like Henry who has at least proven healthy and consistent.

McCoy's health can't be glossed over either, as he has racked up 2,185 carries over a nine-year career. DeMarco Murray called it quits over less wear and tear than that. Injurypredictor.com has him as a moderate risk for injury this season, but the question is more than simply whether he'll miss games. Nothing is more aggravating than having a player who is constantly running back and forth to the sideline from dents and dings, limiting his effectiveness and missing key snaps. The Bills don't have a young replacement for McCoy at the moment, but Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy are capable backs that will take his place the instant he should become hurt. All this aside, a completely healthy, unsuspended McCoy still carries risk simply from wearing a Bills jersey. A team that promises to be one of the worst in the league with a rookie quarterback set to play significant snaps is not a recipe for a strong running game. His numbers from last year should only decline and he is not worth his current ADP.

 

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