Derrick Henry
The Titans are planning for Derrick Henry to become the focal point of the offense in 2019 (Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports)

Derrick Henry rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2018 but it couldn’t have come in a weirder fashion. During the first 12 games of the season, Henry rushed for 474 rushing yards on 128 attempts, a 3.7 yards per carry average. Henry failed to rush for over 60 yards in any of the 12 games. Then Henry caught fire. During the final 4 games, Henry ran for 585 yards on 87 carries (6.72 YPC). He also ran for 7 touchdowns during that streak.

It took 13 games for Matt LaFleur to figure out that he should put the ball in Derrick Henry’s hands more often. New offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith isn’t going to make that same mistake:

“Derrick will be a big part of the offense,” Smith said, via Turron Davenport of ESPN. “He has a rare skill set. Derrick’s a home-run hitter. We are taking another step hopefully with him. What he did over the last five weeks will open up a lot of things.

“Zone (run scheme) is a great starting point for us, but there are a lot of schemes that fit Derrick and fit Dion [Lewis], or whoever else will be on our roster that we will hand the ball [to]. Gaps, pin and pulls, zone reads, but there’s a certain mentality that we want to play with coming off the football. We want to be physical and knock people back.”

“If you can look aesthetically pleasing, people are going to like that in the short term. At the end of the day, we have to win games,” Smith said. “You can lead the league in points — and we will try to score as many points as we can — but we are just going to try and win as a team in all three phases. Just to be aesthetically pleasing is not the goal. We want to be the best offense we can be and win games.”

Credit to Arthur Smith. He knows he has one chance to win football games and that is to feed Derrick Henry as much as possible. The Titans have pieces along the offensive line to do exactly that. The Titans have two good bookend tackles in Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin.

What Smith knows is that he can’t put the ball in the hands of Marcus Mariota. He has to know that Mariota stinks. It’s why he is going with the run first, second, and third approach. 11 touchdowns and 8 interceptions on the entire season isn’t what a franchise quarterback looks like.

For fantasy purposes, Henry looks like a pretty safe gamble. Dion Lewis now will move to more of a change of pace back instead of stealing away half of Henry’s touches. Henry is going to be the guy and he’s going to snag every red zone touchdown. Those final 4 games may provide insight to the Titans ultimate plans. That’s a fantasy darling if you ask me.