This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NBAandNFLInfo or on the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose.
The Indianapolis Colts were a pretty effective pass-happy offense in 2012. Then, despite the improvement of second-year quarterback Andrew Luck, they inexplicably changed their offensive philosophy to a more run-heavy approach. That led them to trading a future first round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns, as they landed former top-5 draft pick, running back Trent Richardson.
That move was supposed to turn the Colts into a smash mouth, ball control offense. They were meant to steamroll opponents and be more efficient.
That didn’t work out so hot.
Richardson was indecisive with runs, plodded into the backs of his offensive linemen, the run-blocking itself was spotty and Richardson admittedly never truly grasped the team’s playbook. That understandably contributed to a pathetic 3.0 yards per carry for Richardson.
Just two years into his previously much-hyped career, a would-be elite running back was suddenly being regarded as a pretty average and overrated talent. He still provided a useful skill-set thanks to his blocking and solid pass-catching, but without efficient rushing ability, he was at risk of being a liability in the backfield, overall.
Initially, it was hard to see just how awful Richardson was, thanks to the solid play of fellow running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw opened the 2013 season with two touchdowns in three games, and before going down for the year with a neck issue in that third game, had put up three efforts of 3.7 yards per carry or better. In 16 games last year, Richardson did that twice. Read again: twice.
The point? Trent Richardson is still being drafted as some fifth round steal in fantasy football drafts, while Bradshaw remains hanging around as some desperate bench play or must-have T-Rich handcuff. Yes, despite Richardson’s seemingly ineptitude, he’s being drafted a good seven rounds ahead of his teammate.
This is wrong for so many reasons, but here are the two fantasy owners need to care about the most: Richardson isn’t very good and Bradshaw kind of is.
Bradshaw certainly has his riskiness to him, too. After all, he did deal with a neck issue. That’s not good (see: Wilson, David). He’s also had numerous leg and foot injuries in his career.
With that being said, he has looked quite good in this offense, is fully healthy now and is still just 28 years old.
Bradshaw isn’t some aged, banged up loser. If healthy, he’s still a pretty dynamic back who can potentially be a solid featured option. He’s on the smaller side, but that didn’t stop him from putting up two 1,000+ rushing yard season in his days with the New York Giants, while his blocking and receiving ability make him a three-down type of back.
Bradshaw has proven that he sees and hits holes better than Richardson. He’s a more decisive runner, he cuts better and he gets better drive from his legs.
Richardson was an elite prospect coming into the league and by all accounts should be blowing Bradshaw out of the water. Sure, but he’s not.
The preseason hasn’t been any different, as Richardson had one nice run and then plodded around in his other four rushes in Indy’s first preseason game. That resulted in 13 yards on five carries. Talk about same ol’, same ol’.
To his credit, Richardson now has the playbook down and supposedly looks determined and decisive in camp. This, against a so-so Indy defense.
Color me unimpressed.
The harsh reality here is that Richardson just isn’t what everyone thought or hoped he’d be. Or if he’s going to be, he surely hasn’t become it yet or given us any real indication that he will get there.
You can draft Richardson in the fifth round (hold out for the sixth if you’re nasty), and that’s actually solid value. Again, he does have the potential of a feature back, so his role could grow into some truly disgusting fantasy value. Potentially.
But if you draft him, you need to own Bradshaw. And you have to risk nothing to get him. Even better? Scratch Richardson and let someone else go through hell in 2014. Wait until the 11th or 12th round and snatch up Bradshaw as your RB4 or RB5 and consider yourself blessed.