This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NBAandNFLInfoor on the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Indianapolis Colts Rumors and News visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
Trent Richardson wasn't able to hack it on his own in 2013, and by all accounts, doesn't really look like he'll be able to do it now. He's probably going to have to at least try, though, since the Indianapolis Colts are down to just him and otherwise replacement level talent thanks to a season-ending injury to Ahmad Bradshaw.
It's definitely not the situation the Colts wanted to be in, but given Bradshaw's injury history (especially with his troublesome feet and ankles), they shouldn't be all that surprised.
Still, here they are, ready to ride a guy who ran six times for zero yards a week ago. Yes, the same Trent Richardson they spent a first round draft pick on via a trade with the Cleveland Browns and the same Trent Richardson who hasn't averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry since coming to Indy.
It doesn't look great, but it hasn't been completely awful the entire time, either. After all, Richardson has had his moments (5.5 yards per carry against the Bengals in week seven and four games with at least 4.0 yards per carry). That's why there has to be a semblance of hope for the Colts. That's also why Richardson owners in fantasy football are clinging to the fact that he at least was talented enough to once be a top-5 draft pick and will at least initially have a pretty nice role.
The question is, will it be enough? Will Trent Richardson being force-fed 20+ touches translate to fantasy success, or will it all just get even uglier than it has already?
It could be. Bradshaw was very impressive on the year, and a lot of it had to do with a nice role as the team's main receiving back. He was a constant source of points in PPR leagues, while his role inside the red-zone as both a runner and receiver led to a whopping eight scores.
Despite inexplicably carrying the ball far less than T-Rich, Bradshaw was still able to amass over 116 fantasy points. That was good for 10th place in the league. That's not all that shocking when you take a quick look at the Colts' explosive offense, but it is when you see that Bradshaw did this on a relatively small amount of touches per game.
The logic that supports Richardson being a fantasy asset over the rest of the year hangs its hat on a sheer increase in touches. Richardson was already a guy that was running the ball a good amount, but he was losing targets (and snaps) to Bradshaw. In fact, Bradshaw took Richardson's place on over 80% of third downs. Hypothetically, Richardson would swallow up that playing time and could in turn see a dramatic increase in production.
It's easy to point to Richardson's horrid 3.4 yard per carry average and balk at any success being possible. He's a bit of a plodder that lacks an elite burst, while arguably his biggest issue has been pure indecisiveness.
With a feature role for really the first time since he's been with the Colts, it's possible Richardson could get a little more comfortable and get into grooves more easily.
At the very worst, no Bradshaw means more touches for Richardson. More touches should make for more yardage and a few more chances per game to find the end-zone.
With Richardson already ranking as fantasy football's 30th best running back, a bigger role opens the door to a major spike in production and a leap in those ranks. While I don't think role alone can make him a top-10 producer, I do think it can help him make up serious ground and possibly sneak into the top-15 by season's end.
Fantasy owners may not have a lot of faith in Richardson, but simply being on the field improves a running back's chances to produce considerably. And with Dan Herron currently being T-Rich's only real threat for touches, there doesn't appear to be a whole lot standing in his way at the moment - except maybe himself.
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