Drafting Trent Richardson in the first round last season was like devouring a big meal at Taco Bell. At first, it’s beautiful, makes you feel good and you are pleased with your selection. But soon enough, you felt nauseous and bloated, ultimately regretting your decision.
The fantasy stomach ache. It happens to the best of us.
Coming off a 2012 campaign where he nearly rushed for 1,000 yards, caught 51 balls and scored 12 total touchdowns, Richardson was being drafted as a top seven fantasy back. In fact, during that year, he finished as the number-nine running back in all of fantasy football. The Browns had a strong offensive line and were throwing the ball a ton, while Richardson was benefiting in a ton of receptions. However, after struggling to start the 2013 season, he was shockingly traded to the Indianapolis Colts. The move, as many assumed, would be great for Richardson’s fantasy value, playing with Andrew Luck and a strong Colts offense.
It didn’t happen.
Richardson struggled from the start, ultimately finishing with a poor 2.9 yards per clip and just three touchdowns. He struggled with the playbook and stated that he wasn’t decisive or patient enough. It appeared he wasn’t at all comfortable with the Colts offense, and as a result, Donald Brown stepped in and vastly outplayed him. However, fast forward to 2014 and Brown is gone, and Richardson could make for one of the better values in fantasy football.
For starters, I love the Colts offense. They already have a star quarterback under center, but will also be getting Reggie Wayne back healthy, Dwayne Allen, who is much better than Coby Fleener, and the team also signed Hakeem Nicks in the offseason. This unit has the talent and potential to be a top-10 scoring offense, and if that’s the case, Richardson should be able to walk into viable fantasy production. Last year, the Colts ranked 15th in red zone scoring attempts per game (3.2) and were 13th in rushing touchdown percentage (33.3%). With all of the weapons and a star quarterback, the Colts still want to be a balanced offense under Pep Hamilton, who led Stanford to 39.8 rushing attempts per game in 2011. This offense is going to be a well-rounded, balanced attack, and Richardson, especially without Donald Brown, will get looks.
A lot of people are comparing Richardson to Marshawn Lynch lately. Jamey Eisenberg points out that when Lynch was traded from Buffalo to Seattle in 2010, he struggled, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry in those 12 games with Seattle. His first true breakout game with the team? Yep, the massacre of the Saints defense in that memorable playoff game. Now, I think Lynch is by far the better back, so I’m not comparing the talent. But the situations are similar– a back in a new offense that has to learn the ropes. Richardson should be more familiar with the offense in 2014, which was a legitimate issue last year.
Richardson towards the back end of the fifth round is very, very good value for a starting running back in a high-powered offense. His threats to the job are aging Ahmad Bradshaw who can’t stay healthy and a plodding Vick Ballard. While he struggled last year, Richardson is still a very talented player. He just needs to stop dancing at the line of scrimmage. And if the Colts invested a first round draft pick to acquire the guy, I’m pretty sure they are going to give him every single possible chance to right this ship, and if he does, you could be absolutely stealing your draft.
He’s posted RB9 numbers in a worse situation, folks.