Once the greatest show on turf, the St. Louis Rams have descended into fantasy football purgatory for the last few years. Outside of Steven Jackson and PPR machine Danny Amendola, there really hasn’t been too much for fantasy owners to get excited about. Last season’s top point producer was Sam Bradford (25th overall) and Jackson checked in at 60th overall.
After the Atlanta Falcons lured Jackson away, the job for the starting running back has been opened up for Daryl Richardson. Richardson split some time with Jackson last season and showed the St. Louis brass enough for them to allow Jackson to walk. With 98 carries last season, Richardson managed an impressive 4.8 YPA average.
For comparison sake, Alfred Morris and Frank Gore each had a 4.8 YPA in 2012. Some big name backs that finished with a lower YPA include Doug Martin, Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Arian Foster. If you project Richardson to only 250 attempts this upcoming season, that would put him at around 1,200 rushing yards.
Richardson showed in limited stints last season that he has burst to get to the edge, and is not afraid to go between the numbers with velocity. He has the inside track on no. 2 back Isaiah Pead for the starting job. While Richardson had a dropped pass last Thursday, he does have decent hands. Last season, he caught 24 passes for 163 yards, which averaged out to 6.8 YPC.
The loss of Amendola to the New England Patriots should not hurt Richardson. The Rams have Chris Givens and 2013’s eighth-overall pick Tavon Austin to stretch the field, and reports out of camp this preseason indicate that Jared Cook has emerged as a potential red zone target.
Even with Amendola last season, Richardson was targeted pretty equally on first (11) second (14) and third (11) downs, so the trust from coach Jeff Fisher and Bradford is certainly there in all situations. Fisher has already publicly stated that he thinks the job is Richardson’s.
The only question I have about Richardson is touchdown production. The running backs mentioned above average a touchdown between every 23-32 attempts. With 98 carries, Richardson needed 2-4 TDs in that span to keep pace. While he hasn’t hit the end zone yet in his NFL career, I think the potential to have the flood gates open are there once he finds it.
We’ve all seen it before where a young player is right on the cusp, and once that first one breaks, that player catches fire.
While some might point out that Richardson faded down the stretch, keep in mind the St. Louis offensive line was in shambles, and they had to face a number of stout defenses. Fumbles have also been an issue, but it can be corrected.
Richardson currently has an ADP of 82. His speed is comparable to David Wilson, who has an ADP of 34. Richardson has the job to lose at this point. He could very well be the next franchise back for St. Louis, as well as the next lower-tier name to break out big.
I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.