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2014 Fantasy Football Outlook: Trent Richardson

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What is the outlook for Colts running back Trent Richardson in fantasy football this year?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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 Rankings visit Fantasy Football Overdose.

The Indianapolis Colts took a swing for the fences last year, trading their 2014 first round draft pick for Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson. They had been dealt a blow in the depth department with running back Vick Ballard going down with a season-ending injury, and all they had left was an injury-prone Ahmad Bradshaw and a scat-back in Donald Brown.

On paper, it made perfect sense. The Colts needed the depth, Richardson was a former top-five first round draft pick and no other running back on their roster offered his kind of upside.

That’s what we all thought, at least.

After all, T-Rich looked pretty good as a rookie. Despite playing with a rib injury and carrying a defunct Browns offense, he scored 11 rushing touchdowns and 953 rushing yards. His weak 3.6 yards per carry should have been looked at as more of a concern, but that was routinely brushed off due to Richardson playing in Cleveland, being a rookie and being a little banged up at times.

We all probably should have held that stat in higher regard.

Richardson came over to Indy and scored in his first game, oddly enough against a very tough opponent in the San Francisco 49ers. Naturally, if Richardson could do anything remotely good in his first game against a tough team, things could only get better, right?

Nope. Instead, Richardson plodded his way to a mere 3.0 yards per carry off of 188 rushes and scored four total touchdowns on the entire year.

The drop-off in role and production in just one year was staggering, and now the 24-year old once promising talent is entering a potential make-or-break season.

The real question is, is Trent Richardson worth the risk in fantasy football this year?

On his two-year showing alone, the answer is a pretty abrupt "no". Richardson looks very slow off the snap, lacks that initial burst you like to see out of any back - let alone one that is projected to play all three downs - while he’s also far too hesitant to hit holes.

All of that has led to a horrible yards per carry average, while his tentative play in general holds back the offense, as a whole. Richardson does possess a good overall skill-set, as he has proven to be an effective blocker and receiver, but his pure running ability has not shown up in Indy nearly as much as it did in Cleveland.

In his first preseason game of the year, all of the fears fantasy owners had in the back of their mind remained, as he rushed for just 13 yards on five carries. He had a nice eight-yard run, but his other four carries went for five total yards. This is the exact example of horrible running out of Richardson that makes him such a scary pick in fantasy leagues.

With Ahmad Bradshaw still hanging around, ready to take over the starting gig, Richardson is very much in danger of losing his monster role and being a fantasy bust for the second year in a row.

He still has some time during the preseason to get more decisive with his running and show he’s quicker than advertised, but it’s not looking great.

His current ADP (Average Draft Position) of the early fifth round looked fantastic before camp opened, but now it’s looking like that might even be a bit too rich. If he slides further into the sixth or seventh round, there’s no reason not to take that gamble. At least starting out, the Colts are probably going to still give him the first crack at a big role to start the year. Just don’t reach for him any earlier or expect him to suddenly come out and dominate the league. There just hasn’t been anything at all to support the idea of that happening yet.