Let me tell you my Trent Richardson story. There’s nothing to it but it should feel familiar. I drafted him over LeSean McCoy in one particularly personal and expensive league and that soon became the equivalent of signing up for a marathon and–just as the race commences at the starting line–putting on high heels. Unfortunately, a year later he’s one of the 2014 preseason’s most divisive, important running backs.
Divisive because the jury is at an impasse as to what dark arts have conspired to account for his poor production. Important because his magical, sky high ceiling is still theoretically possible and oh look it’s year three for an NFL RB. The truth is that Richardson is going to break some hearts this fall–it’s paramount that you figure out what to do with this stock. To help, a fiery panel of RotoViz’s finest hugged it out and found every possible angle.
Go big, go home, go T-Rich
There is one type of competition that I can see myself drafting T-Rich in and that’s a tournament-style league where you want to go big or go home, like the FFPC for instance. I could see Richardson bouncing back this year and becoming an every down back for the Colts. I could also see him averaging two yards per carry and spending most of the season watching from the sideline. But that wide range of potential outcomes makes him perfect for a league where your goal isn’t to go 8-6 and maybe make the playoffs. You don’t have to worry about finishing dead last, because there are no bragging rights on the line. So trying to really hit on high variance picks in every round is in your best interest.
Richardson probably has as much upside as any of the RBs going in the fifth round. If he does bounce back then he has the potential to be an every down player. He also has the potential to end up switching to fullback mid-season, so there’s that. — Fantasy Douche
He’s got the tools, he’s got the talent
Players who have shown the ability to be a true three-down RB in the NFL are a rare breed, and Richardson did just that as a rookie. It’s rare for a team to be heavily invested in a RB in the modern NFL but the Colts are heavily invested in Richardson. I have zero doubt that Richardson is the most talented receiving back on the Colts, so I think his worst case scenario is that he becomes their third-down back who also gets 100+ carries. Really though, the Richardson pessimism has two main sources. The first is his low yards per carry as a rookie, which we know isn’t particularly meaningful. Lots of Hall of Fame RBs had the same problem. When you consider that Richardson played injured, for a team with a completely nonthreatening passing game, and received a lot of carries in short-yardage situations, that becomes a non-concern. The other concern is his performance last year. His early-season trade was a rare phenomenon, and the closest comparison is Marshawn Lynch. Lynch was also terrible at first. He didn’t break 100 yards rushing until his 19th game in Seattle. To me, it seems like the Richardson pessimism is based on two pieces of data that don’t really tell us much about his future. I don’t expect him to ever be a world-beater, but he could easily be the next Steven Jackson with the benefit of playing with an actual franchise QB. If that happens he becomes a league winner if you pluck him at his ADP. — Justin Winn
If you’re in that ADP neighborhood just pick up one of its wideouts instead
I love buying in on players for fair value that have an opportunity to trump their market cost. Richardson fits that mold, as his anticipated volume should drive him toward RB2 territory naturally. He has my attention to a degree. His final ADP in snake drafts makes it hard for me to pull the trigger because I prefer the floor on some of wide receivers in his ADP range, but I will be kicking the tires in auctions guaranteed. — Rich Hribar
For immediate release: This disastrous chart
I’m not sure why Richardson still looks so appealing to so many fantasy players. Last season, in a backfield missing Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard, here are his attempts by week.
The RB Sim App likes T-Rich for just eight points per game. Ballard is healthy, as is Bradshaw, who represents the best value in the Colts backfield, in my opinion. Also, the offseason signing of Hakeem Nicks, presumable returns of Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen, and drafting of Donte Moncrief auger against a run-heavy game plan. I’m staying away. — James Todd
Another vote for ‘call me when he does something’
Is Richardson good? That’s really what we want to know. We were told, most assuredly that he was, in fact, good. After being downright terrible last year for the Colts and hovering somewhere between mediocre and disappointing for the Browns, he somehow has a fifth-round ADP. I think that’s probably a little rich for a player who has shown almost nothing at the NFL level. The fourth and fifth rounds are something of a no mans land right now as we wait for training camp news and preseason games to show us something, but I would rather take a WR like Mike Floyd or Torrey Smith in T-Rich’s slot than reach for Richardson just because his points count in a RB slot instead of a WR one. Maybe if Richardson comes out preseason Week 1 and starts looking like a player who belongs, I’ll change my mind. Until then, I’m passing for the most part. — Davis Mattek
Another vote for ‘I think T-Rich eats all year’
I was apathetic about Richardson after last year, but I’m starting to change my tune. Sure, he was stuck behind Donald Brown on the depth chart last season. And it’s true: He couldn’t muster more than three yards per attempt rushing with the Colts. But Brown is gone now, and the remaining RBs are coming off neck (Bradshaw) and knee (Ballard) injuries, so Richardson is in line for a big increase in usage. Plus, he showed promise as a receiver out of the backfield: After being traded to the Colts, he averaged nearly 9.5 yards per reception (eighth best among RBs), and 6.5 yards per target (12th among RBs). At his current ADP of 69, the upside is enough to keep me tantalized. — Jim Kloet
He could be the most valuable asset in fantasy football, but smart money says ‘sell’
Do I know if Richardson will be a good fantasy RB this year? I have no idea. On the one hand he could turn things around Lynch-style. On the other, maybe he’s Mark Ingram 2.0. Here’s what I do know: You better feel pretty damn confident to take him at his early fifth round dynasty ADP (ahead of players like Alfred Morris, Larry Fitzgerald, Eric Decker, Vincent Jackson, Cam Newton, and Drew Brees). If Richardson puts a fantastic comeback season together he’ll be one of the most valuable assets in dynasty, but under almost any other scenario he’ll be worth less next year than what you paid for him—potentially even a double digit pick a la David Wilson, Mark Ingram, and Lamar Miller1. I’m willing to roll the dice on him in redraft if the price is right, but I have enough concerns about his agility, acceleration after contact, and lack of improvement in the Colts system that I think the move right now in dynasty is to sell him while you can still cash in on some pretty solid value. — Pat Kerrane
- before the Knowshon Moreno injury news (back)