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Trent Richardson Fantasy 2014: Year of Redemption

Trent Richardson Fantasy

I’ve looked at Trent Richardson’s fantasy value as glass half empty for too long. It’s time to take a more positive approach.

Trent RichardsonTrent Richardson Fantasy 2014

There are three things I thought I would never do following the 2013 football season:

  1. Recover from the Broncos Super Bowl embarrassment
  2. Eat more comfort food in one day than I did on February 2, 2014
  3. Consider drafting Trent Richardson again

The cat is now out of the bag, and it’s clawing its way back into my conscience; that cat being No. 3 on the above list. It’s not easy, taking such a risk. In fact, there’s no other way to describe this approach than insidious, but as Albert Einstein said, “A ship is always safe at the shore — but that is not what it is built for.” I’m now sailing that ship to that treacherous enclave known as Trent Richardson Island. It’s a desolate destination, one uninhabited by the weak of heart, but, in the words of the great Bilbo Baggins, I think I’m quite ready for another adventure.

I hadn’t seriously considered drafting Richardson until recently, and there is only one league format I’ll probably take him in, too.; that being point-per-reception (PPR) leagues. Why? You may know by now that Richardson’s main criticism is his yards-per-carry (YPC) average. His career YPC average sits at 3.3, a prosaic feat to say the least.

I’ve looked at Trent Richardson’s fantasy value as a glass half empty for too long. It’s time to take a more positive approach. He did, in fact, have a phenomenal rookie season in Cleveland. While Richardson did average just 3.5 YPC in 2012, he was still successful as a rusher and pass-catcher. Much of Richardson’s success on the ground came via goal-to-go carries. According to Pro Football Focus, he totaled eight touchdowns on 23 carries in goal-to-go situations with Cleveland. The eight goal-to-go touchdowns were good enough for fourth among running backs, behind Arian Foster, Alfred Morris and Stevan Ridley.

The Colts need to utilize Richardson where they know he can be successful, which isn’t exactly rushing between the 20s. He should be used mostly in passing situations between the 20s. The Alabama alum caught 51 passes on 70 targets for 367 yards and a touchdown in 2012. The 70 targets and 51 catches were fourth and seventh most, respectively, among running backs.

Indianapolis eventually caught on to Richardson’s strengths after trading for the 2012 first-round draft pick prior to Week 3.  He saw an obvious influx in targets and receptions from Week 10 on, totaling 21 catches on 30 targets from Week 10 to 17. Contrarily, he caught just seven passes on 10 targets from Week 3 to 9. In that same span, Weeks 3-9, he saw just two carries in goal-to-go situations. In Weeks 10-17, he was given five carries in such situations. It’s not that big of an increase, but still more than double what he had from Week 3 to 9.

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Richardson is currently listed as the team’s No. 1 running back, but Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard will be competing for playing time as well. Bradshaw may be the biggest threat to Richardson’s playing time, but he’s coming off neck surgery and has seen limited contact this offseason. The same goes for Ballard, who is recovering from a torn ACL and subsequent surgery.

It will be difficult for Richardson to shake the image of underachievement he created for himself last year. Still, he’s had one really good season and one pretty bad season. This year gives him a chance to prove which one was real and which one was a fluke.

Operation Redemption will commence in early September, so proceed with caution.

Where I’d take him in standard leagues: early sixth round, RB 30 range.

Where I’d take him in PPR leagues: mid fifth round, RB 26 range.

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