It’s not every year you see a rookie running back that can assume the role of a three down workhorse in the NFL, become the staple of an offense, and make an immediate fantasy impact. After an uninspiring Week 1, Trent Richardson has taken on that role for the Cleveland Browns, and the gravy train for the Browns and fantasy owners isn’t stopping soon.
Richardson was greeted in Week 1 with a smack in the mouth against the Philadelphia Eagles. He rushed for a measly 39 yards on 19 carries. However, what gave fantasy owners a glimmer of hope were the 19 touches, and the vote of confidence from his head coach, Pat Shurmur. With rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden at the helm, and no wide receivers to speak of, what choice does Shurmur really have?
Since then, the rookie from Alabama has found the end zone each week, and has been a solid contributor for fantasy teams. What makes things even better is when we look forward, we see a cream puff schedule. Here’s a quick glance at what’s to come the next couple of weeks, and why you can start Richardson with confidence.
Week 5- The New York Giants are next, who just allowed LeSean McCoy to rush for 123 yards, and Michael Vick for an extra 49. The Giants allow opposing rushers 4.5 yards per carry.
Week 6 – Richardson has a rematch with the Cincinnati Bengals, this time at home. In Week 2 Cinci gave up 109 yards and a touchdown to the Cleveland rookie. No reason to think Richardson can’t do it again, as the Bengals are 24th in the league in yards allowed to running backs.
Week 7- The Browns travel to take on the Indianapolis Colts. The ponies are a middle of the road rush defense. They allow 108 rushing yards per game and one touchdown to running backs thus far. Fantasy owners will gladly take that stat line.
As shaky quarterback play plagues Cleveland, look for Richardson to be the constant in the Browns backfield for the rest of the year. Richardson’s workload paired with a soft schedule makes his fantasy upside undeniable, and sitting this rookie would be a huge mistake going forward.