by Ray Kuhn
The Browns made Trent Richardson the focal point of their 2012 draft and it appears that fantasy owners are now doing the same. Richardson currently has an ADP of 7 which puts him, on average, the sixth highest player taken thus far. He is behind Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ryan Matthews. That is not surprising. What potentially is surprising is Richardson being taken before stud quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers and the unstoppable force that is Calvin Johnson. Let’s take a look first at Richardson and then whether this is a prudent move for owners.
- Richardson excelled in all three of his college years. For his first two college seasons Richardson shared the backfield with Mark Ingram and, at times, looked like the better running back. He had 2 games in each season where he eclipsed 100 yards rushing and averaged 5.18 and 6.25 yards per carries in his freshman and sophomore years.
- When Richardson was handed the keys to the castle in his junior year, he was a huge part of an offense starting a freshman quarterback and was without Ingram in the backfield. With that said, Richardson took a step back in a full time role as he “only” averaged 5.93 yards per carry rushing 283 times for 1,679 yards.
- Richardson played his college ball in the SEC which is arguably the toughest conference in college football, so he is used to upper level competition. Also thanks to the success of Alabama, he played 14 games in his freshman season and 13 games in his junior season. That will help ease the adjustment into an NFL schedule.
- Playing under a hard edged former professional coach in Nick Saban should help Richardson get used to playing for NFL coaches.
- Running back is one of the easiest positions to transition to from college football to the NFL. Adrian Peterson had over 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns in his rookie campaign. Richardson is probably a notch below Peterson in speed, but is a little more of a physical player.
- Being drafting by the Browns means that Richardson will quickly become the focal point of an offense without much talent at the skill positions meaning he will get a lot of touches. With 21 rushing touchdowns last season, Richardson proved he has no problems finding the end zone.
- With 29 catches and 338 yards receiving last season Richardson does have some ability to catch the occasional pass out of the backfield to help fantasy owners.
There is no question that Richardson is an elite talent that will be making fantasy owners happy for the next ten years. The question is, what exactly can be expected from him this season and where should he be drafted.
It would not be prudent to expect a repeat of last season for Richardson. However, there is clear talent and ability and a starting role. Those two characteristics are what you look for when drafting a top running back. There is no question that based on the above information Richardson should be ranked as a RB1 in a 12 team league.
The next question when determining where to draft Richardson is what your draft strategy is. If it is to take a running back with your first choice, then this ADP is accurate for Richardson if, when it comes to your pick, he is top running back on your board. But how much better is Richardson than the running backs ranked behind him? What is the opportunity cost in taking Richardson and AJ Green or Larry Fitzgerald in the 2nd round compared to Calvin Johnson or Aaron Rodgers in the first round and Michael Turner, Frank Gore or Doug Martin in the second round?
As much as taking a rookie in the first round would frighten me and having Rodgers or Johnson would be nice, having Turner, Gore or Martin (another rookie) as my number one running back would frighten me more. So Trent Richardson in the first round it is.
What are your thoughts? Will you be thinking of taking Richardson in the first round?