In a couple of experts drafts I've either run or participated in lately, the Dion Lewis-Derrick Henry question has been a tough one. In one I selected Lewis half a round after Henry. In the other, Lewis was drafted a round later, to the same owner. Some debate later as to which was the better pick.
One thing I noticed is that Lewis is going from one of the most prolific teams in terms of passing to its running backs to its very worst. That was the case last year, anyway. The Patriots were 2nd in running back receptions and 3rd in yards. The Titans were last.
|RECEIVING YARDS BY RUNNING BACKS, 2017|
Lewis himself caught 32 passes last year, one of 36 running backs to catch at least 30 passes. New England had three different backs catch that many; the Titans had only departed DeMarco Murray.
|RUNNING BACK RECEIVING, 2017 (30+ CATCHES)|
|Alvin Kamara, N.O.||81||826||10.2||5|
|Todd Gurley, LAR||64||788||12.3||6|
|Duke Johnson, Clev.||74||693||9.4||3|
|LeVeon Bell, Pitt.||85||655||7.7||2|
|Christian McCaffrey, Car.||80||651||8.1||5|
|Chris Thompson, Wash.||39||510||13.1||4|
|Melvin Gordon, LAC||58||476||8.2||4|
|Kareem Hunt, K.C.||53||455||8.6||3|
|LeSean McCoy, Buff.||59||448||7.6||2|
|Theo Riddick, Det.||53||444||8.4||2|
|James White, N.E.||56||429||7.7||3|
|Jerick McKinnon, Minn.||51||421||8.3||2|
|Mark Ingram, N.O.||58||416||7.2||0|
|Giovani Bernard, Cin.||43||389||9.0||2|
|Andre Ellington, Ariz.-Hou.||39||369||9.5||0|
|Tarik Cohen, Chi.||53||353||6.7||1|
|Carlos Hyde, S.F.||59||350||5.9||0|
|Lamar Miller, Hou.||36||327||9.1||3|
|Devonta Freeman, Atl.||36||317||8.8||1|
|Kyle Juszczyk, S.F.||33||315||9.5||1|
|Leonard Fournette, Jac.||36||302||8.4||1|
|Matt Forte, NYJ||37||293||7.9||1|
|Joe Mixon, Cin.||30||287||9.6||0|
|Devontae Booker, Den.||30||275||9.2||0|
|J.D. McKissic, Sea.||34||266||7.8||2|
|DeMarco Murray, Tenn.||39||266||6.8||1|
|Rex Burkhead, N.E.||30||254||8.5||3|
|Shane Vereen, NYG||44||253||5.8||0|
|Javorius Allen, Balt.||46||250||5.4||2|
|Charles Sims, T.B.||35||249||7.1||1|
|Kenyan Drake, Mia.||32||239||7.5||1|
|T.J. Yeldon, Jac.||30||224||7.5||0|
|Dion Lewis, N.E.||32||214||6.7||3|
|Danny Woodhead, Balt.||33||200||6.1||0|
|DeAndre Washington, Oak.||34||197||5.8||1|
|Wayne Gallman, NYG||34||193||5.7||1|
Murray was actually pretty productive as a receiver, catching 39 passes. The problem is that the team's other running backs combined for just 11 passes, all by Henry. That's why Tennessee finished with such poor team numbers; one guy doing all the work.
In 2018, that guy will be Lewis. No reason why he can't finish with excellent receiving numbers, before even factoring in that his new offensive coordinator in Tennessee will be Matt LaFleur, who worked with the Rams last year (6th in team running back receiving yards), and had Todd Gurley (2nd to Alvin Kamara).
Bottom line, I like Lewis.He's not going to be Todd Gurley, but he could put up very good receiving numbers, while sharing rushing duties with Henry. I think I'll be more likely to draft Lewis where he'll be available than Henry where he will be.