Hunter Henry has officially entered ‘make-it-or-break-it’ territory. After putting together a solid season in 2021, Henry, like seemingly everyone else in the Patriots offense not named Rhamondre Stevenson, took a step back last season. Now, with the Patriots trying to keep their heads above water in the loaded AFC East, Henry will need to produce in a contract year.
2023 Fantasy Football: Hunter Henry Profile
Recap of 2022 season
As mentioned above, Henry had a strong 2021 (603 yards receiving and nine touchdowns), but struggled last season (509 yards, two touchdowns). That said, a lot of those struggles can be traced back to the Patriots’ struggles on offense, as Henry had fewer targets (59 in ‘22 compared to 75 in ‘21) and receptions (41 compared to 50).
Updated Patriots outlook
The good news: the Patriots’ offense should be better this season since they finally have a real offensive coordinator (Bill O’Brien) at the helm after using Matt Patrica last year.
The bad news: Henry finally has some real competition in the form of Mike Gesicki, who the team signed to a one-year, $9 million contract. Gesicki is an incredibly athletic tight end (he tallied back-to-back 700-yard receiving seasons in 2020 and ‘21), but only had 362 yards receiving last season in a Dolphins offense that de-emphasized tight ends.
The Patriots offense clicks, Mac Jones and Henry pick up where they left off in 2021 and Henry finally gives them the dynamic tight end they’ve been missing since Rob Gronkowski left. The Patriots have made their love for tight ends evident in the past, so it’s hard to imagine them not feeding Henry the ball if he gets going.
Gesicki makes his presence known and eats into Henry’s reps — if not takes his job outright. Gesicki is a bit of a different look at tight end (he’s essentially more of a wide receiver who lines up on the line every so often), and could end up using that to his advantage to eat into Henry’s opportunities.
Henry is a bit of a buyer’s beware when it comes to fantasy this year due to the Patriots' offensive regression and the presence of Gesicki. Henry has some late-round value, but it’s worth keeping an eye on — if not drafting Gesicki — just in case Henry gets leapfrogged on the depth chart.