Fantasy football: Derrick Henry at risk of being overvalued after huge game

Recent history indicates not every player who can produce more than 40 fantasy points will go on to continued success.

Monster fantasy football output, such as the variety produced by Amari Cooper (WR, Cowboys) and Derrick Henry (RB, Titans) in Week 14, is incredibly rare.

Both Cooper and Henry exceeded 40 PPR points, a benchmark that was reached just 11 times over the first 13 weeks this year. In fact, only 103 instances of 40-point games in that scoring format have occurred over the last 10 seasons, according to Pro Football Reference.

While Cooper (49.7 points) had his struggles over the past two seasons while playing for the Raiders before arriving in Dallas via midseason trade, he did cross the 40-point threshold last October with Oakland.

Henry’s 47.8-point effort, on the other hand, came relatively out of left field. Sure, plenty of team managers selected him in August drafts, but his 2018 campaign was pretty listless before Thursday’s surge. amNewYork’s fantasy column just last week recommended that Henry be avoided in next year’s drafts. Such a proclamation looks foolish in hindsight, but it’s one I stand by — barring some sort of continued stat explosion the rest of the way — and I hope you do too.

There’s a temptation to overreact, but plenty of players over the years have produced mammoth single-game efforts yet failed to develop into a reliable fantasy contributor. Here’s a look back at a few cautionary tales from recent years.

Jonas Gray

The most notorious one-hit wonder in recent memory, the former Patriots RB became an overnight sensation in November 2014 when he posted 44.1 points on 201 rushing yards and four touchdowns in his first time as the featured back. Granted, he needed 37 carries to get there and recorded zero receptions, but it was no less impressive at the time. 

Gray rarely saw the field going forward, registering just 65 more carries before washing out of the NFL. He became the poster child for not trusting Patriots running backs for years to come, a stigma that has begun to fade in light of this season’s dual success from James White and Sony Michel.

Thomas Rawls

The undrafted Seahawks rookie had produced an exceptional effort earlier in 2015 before netting 40.5 points in a late November game, which included 255 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. Optimists hoped he would pick up right where Seattle legend Marshawn Lynch left off.

Alas, Rawls’ career tapered off in subsequent seasons, in part due to injuries. Although just 25, he appeared in just one game this season for the Bengals before being cut in October. 

Brian Hartline

With 43.3 points in a September 2012 game for the Dolphins (12 catches, 253 yards, 1 TD), Hartline had the look of a possession WR who might become one of those under-the-radar guys that saves a fantasy season. 

That never came to fruition. He failed to find the end zone or reach double-digit receptions in a game the rest of the way, and he only surpassed 100 yards receiving once more. He held some value as a borderline flex WR a year later but little more.

Scott Fontana