It’s been reported Derrick Henry suffered a serious foot injury in Week 8. After the initial shock and disappointment of the news wears off, fantasy football owners immediately start wondering who the Titans’ backup is and how his fantasy outlook appears going forward. Henry’s direct handcuff, Jeremy McNichols, has been productive in some spots this year, mostly through the air, but unless Tennessee trades for a veteran running back before the Nov. 2 NFL trade deadline, McNichols will be a top Week 9 waiver pickup with plenty of fantasy potential.
We’ll break down McNichols and the Titans RB situation below. For all the latest fantasy news, follow us on Twitter @SN_Fantasy.
WEEK 9 WAIVERS: Top pickups
Who is Derrick Henry’s backup, Titans handcuff RB?
UPDATE: Henry is having foot surgery on Tuesday and will reportedly miss six-to-10 weeks, with eight being the most likely outcome. That will keep him out for the rest of the fantasy regular season, though there’s a chance he’ll make it back for the fantasy playoffs.
UPDATE 2: The Titans signed Adrian Peterson on Monday afternoon. It seems likely he’ll operate as Tennessee’s lead back, but given his age and lack of action of this year, McNichols still figures to be heavily involved, particularly on receiving downs. Peterson will be the priority Week 9 pickup, but McNichols is still worth adding, especially in PPR leagues.
Jeremy McNichols has hopped around the league since 2017 and is in his second year with Tennessee. Last season in his first real NFL action, he rushed for 204 yards and a TD on 47 carries while adding another 55 yards on 12 catches. Prior to that, he had short stints with San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Jacksonville. Before entering the league, he played three years at Boise State, where he rushed for 3,205 yards and 44 touchdowns. He also caught 103 passes for 1,089 yards and 10 touchdowns, so he obviously brings a lot to the table as a receiver.
Those receiving skills have been on display this year, as he’s caught 21 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown — all as a mere backup behind the busiest back in the NFL. Darrynton Evans (knee) was placed on IR last week and will miss the remainder of the season, so McNichols appears to be the only player on the Titans’ RB depth chart (for now) with real fantasy potential, as we’ll mention below.
Jeremy McNichols Fantasy Outlook
Barring a deal for a veteran RB before the Nov. 2 NFL trade deadline (which seems likely at this point), McNichols is the clear No. 2 on the Titans depth chart. For fantasy purposes, he profiles as an solid RB2 in PPR leagues and low-end RB/high-end flex in standard leagues. He could approach RB1 territory with a heavy workload, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll get anywhere close to the kind of league-leading workload Henry got. He’s simply not the same kind of runner, both in terms of size, durability, and talent. Of course, he’ll be more of a factor in the receiving game, but you can’t expect him to rip off long runs behind what has been a struggling offensive line up to this point.
Again, it’s very likely Tennessee trades for an RB or adds one via free agency. Still, McNichols would have value in an RBBC backfield. He just doesn’t have the profile to suggest Tennessee will thrust him into a workhorse role, but crazier things have happened. On Monday morning, Adam Schefter shared a list of possible trade targets, which included Ty’Son Williams, Rondald Jones, and Melvin Gordon (although he said Gordon is unlikely to be traded). Many might think Marlon Mack is in play here, but we doubt the Colts would be willing to ship Mack to a division rival that just swept them in the season series.
So, again, McNichols is still worth picking up — likely as the top Week 9 waiver pickups if there’s no trade — but this situation is liable to change in a hurry. Be on the lookout and be ready to strike in your leagues. For what it’s worth, we initially rank McNichols as the RB17 in PPR leagues and RB20 in standard leagues for Week 9 against the Rams.
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