Chargers: Time to buy low on Hunter Henry in fantasy football

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 23: Hunter Henry (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 23: Hunter Henry (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Chargers offense is loaded with talent this season. However, one talent that has not been showcased this season yet is tight end Hunter Henry.

Last Sunday, Antonio Gates broke the touchdown record originally set by Tony Gonzalez when he caught the 112th TD of his 15 season career with the Los Angeles Chargers.

It has been speculated that Gates only returned at age 37 to accomplish the feat, especially after tying the record in the last game of 2016. With Gates having achieved his goal, it seems likely that he will take a step back in the offense to make way for new talent.

Last season, the Chargers drafted TE Hunter Henry with the 35th pick of the NFL Draft with the implication that he would be the successor to the man soon headed to Canton.

As a rookie, Henry broke out fantasy wise– scoring 8 touchdowns while receiving for 478 yards. What’s more impressive is that he did so behind Gates in the line-up.

With his size, speed, and receiving ability, Henry is a huge threat in the red zone. He flashed his big play potential last year, seeing as he averaged 13.3 yards per reception and a 59-yard catch-and-run during the season. The only thing standing in the way of Henry being a top tier fantasy TE is Antonio Gates stealing receptions. That, however, is hopefully all going to change in 2017.

Antonio Gates is taking a step down.

While Henry’s skill is undeniable, the issue with him wasn’t the talent but the opportunity. Last season, Rivers threw a combined 89 receptions and 15 touchdowns to the Rivers/Henry tandem. Unfortunately, Henry saw only 36 of these receptions.

If Henry steps up and becomes the Chargers’ main guy, he could easily be a top 5 tight end this season.

With Gates now being the reigning scoring champion amongst tight ends in NFL history, you can anticipate that he will have his touches limited greatly for the rest of the season and that most of the unclaimed targets will belong to Henry. The best part is, Gates wants the coaching staff to limit his snaps.

This off-season, Gates was asked what he thought his role would be in the offense. He said that he was hoping on “getting the right reps that are appropriate for [him] at [his] age.”

He knows that Henry is there to replace him and at age 37, and sees no problem with the sophomore tight end usurping the top spot. At this point in his Hall of Fame career, Gates is more concerned about the wins than his stats.

With Gates’ willingness to take a backseat behind his protégé, the snaps should be there for Henry as he looks to be an every down tight end for the pass-happy offense.

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So far this season, Henry has only been targeted in one game– last week against the Dolphins.  In said game, Henry was able to snag all 7 of his targets for 80 yards. It is also worth noting that after Gates scored the record-breaking touchdown, he didn’t record a reception for the rest of the game.

If Henry can get 60 targets this season– about 2/3 of the total targets last season– he would be a lock to finish as a TE1 this season.

Considering that Henry reached about 20% of his targets last season over in one game, it is more likely that he exceeds 60 receptions than falls short. If you apply his current 11.4 yards-per-catch average to that number of receptions, he is estimated to end the season with 684 yards.

If you also predict that he gets another 8 touchdowns on top of it– which he did with half as many receptions last season and Gates fighting for red zone snaps– Henry would finish the with 122.4 points in standard scoring leagues. This would put him around the TE6 last year.

All things considered, this could end up being a conservative estimate come the end of the year. If Henry gets the increase in opportunity that he’s practically guaranteed and also takes a step in his production while showing a better connection with Rivers, he has top-tier tight end potential.

He is absolutely a player to get for the remainder of the season if you have the chance.

What is Henry worth in most leagues?

Henry didn’t get a single target in the first game of the season for the Chargers. This led to many owners dropping him from their roster out of fear. If you are fortunate enough to find him on your waiver wire, he could be worth a stash.

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If you need a TE and want to trade for him, he could be a good “buy low” candidate right now as most owners may be frustrated with his inconsistency of the past two weeks. If Henry’s owner in your league isn’t asking for too steep of a price based on his last performance against the Dolphins, definitely try to obtain him.

It is worth noting that Henry may have three rough match-ups in the following weeks– the next three games facing the Chiefs, Eagles, and Giants. The Chiefs lost Eric Berry and the Giants allowed ten points to the less talented Eric Ebron so the Eagles will be the only for sure “sit ’em” match-up for Henry.

His playoff schedule is desirable though so he will be someone to consider picking up if he is dropped within the next three weeks in your league.

Next: Melvin Gordon could have a big week in week three

Hunter Henry is poised to take a huge step this season so make sure that he’s on your fantasy roster when he does.