Trent Richardson was REAL bad last season. (Zach Bolinger/Icon SMI)
What happened to Trent Richardson?
After his terrible sophomore campaign, can you trust him in 2014?
June 22, 2014
Expectations Coming Into Last Season.
After finishing his 2012 rookie season as the 9th best RB, Richardson's preseason Average Draft Position (ADP) was 7.6. Richardson was considered a strong late first round pick in most scoring formats.
Richardson started out his first two games of the year with Cleveland very slowly with just over 70 total yards of offense in each game. After that, Richardson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts. The hope of fantasy owners was that Richardson would flourish while defenses focused on Andrew Luck. In reality, Richardson had a 2.9 yard per carry average as a Colt, and he only scored 4 TDs. Richardson finished the 2013 season as the 34th fantasy RB.
There can be a lot of talk about the run blocking of the Colts being substandard, but the problem with that is the Colts other RB, Donald Brown, ran the ball about 100 more times than Richardson, and Brown had a better yards per carry average. Brown's yards per carry was over one yard better than Richardson's. From a fantasy perspective, Brown really dominated Richardson thanks to his 8 total TDs. Richardson was probably facing a different look when he was rushing versus what Brown was seeing, but the proof is in the pudding (or you are what you are). Richardson was outperformed by a back that finished as the 56th best RB in the previous season. Brown had never done much previously in the NFL, but he managed to beat out Richardson in 2013.
Where Do You Think About Drafting Him in 2014?
Well, 2012 was a phenomenal rookie year, and 2013 was a bust no matter how you slice it. Playing for the floundering Browns didn't help things and joining the Colts sent him backwards in production. He had no time to practice and get used to a completely new offense due to be traded on September 18, 2013. Richardson was clearly uncomfortable in the offense and struggled all season as he tried to play "catch-up". The end result? Richardson's 2014 fantasy stock is much lower than it was heading into the 2013 season. It is possible that Richardson is a bust like his Alabama teammate, Mark Ingram, or he could also be the next washout like Felix Jones. However, Richardson could be the next Cedric Benson. It took Benson 5 years before he broke the top 30 RBs. He finished as the 16th best RB in his 5th and 6th seasons. Prior to that, he was 79th, 38th, 36th, and 40th ranked RB.
With all his talent and his proven NFL production from his 2012 season, it is hard to imagine that Richardson won't recover some of his former fantasy glory. The front office of the Colts paid a heavy price for him, so they will make sure he gets EVERY opportunity to be successful. Starting the 2014 offseason with skepticism is a good plan, but you should be prepared to upgrade your opinion of Richardson if you see and/or hear good things about him as the 2014 season approaches. Richardson might just need an offseason with the same team he will be playing games with all season. There will be few fantasy owners that will be looking for Richardson earlier in their draft, but most will not. You should keep a close eye on Richardson, who could rebound from an abysmal sophomore campaign and be an outstanding value pick later in your draft.