Trent Richardson: Should We Have Drank The Fantasy Kool-Aid?


Trent Richardson’s average draft position on ESPN this year was 11.4, which means that he was a first round draft pick in most leagues. He was my second pick in my Quarterback First Round Strategy, but I still ended up making it into the playoffs with Richardson on my team(he rode my bench most of the year though). Now with the fantasy season wrapping up and the New Year shortly upon us, this is the time for self review and reflection. Why was Richardson so hyped up in the fantasy world? Why did people risk a first round pick on him? I reviewed some key figures from the 2012 season to try and help understand if the expectations on Richardson were realistic, or if he was just over hyped.

1. Was the 11th highest scoring running back in standard scoring leagues, and he missed placing 10th by two points

2. Richardson placed 18th for fantasy running backs with his 950 rushing yards(Reggie Bush, Ahmad Bradshaw, Steven Jackson, and Shonn Greene all ranked ahead of Richardson)

3. Once again placed 11th among running backs for his 267 rushing attempts

4. Richardson tied Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin for the 5th most rushing touchdowns with 11 

5. 12th most receiving yards among running backs with 367

6. Only received 1 passing touchdown

7. Had the 8th most receptions among running backs, and the sixth most targets

The 7 running backs generally picked before Richardson were Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Ray Rice, Doug Martin, Jamaal Charles, and C.J. Spiller. Peterson, Lynch, and Charles were some of the top producers in 2013, while the majority of the rest of the running backs listed suffered injuries and are considered busts. Among the top eight running backs drafted, only 37% performed at their expected production levels. Richardson was a major story because of his trade to the Colts and his head scratching performances, but Doug Martin and Arian Foster owners seem to have been forgotten, as fantasy owners had to overcome major hurtles to make it to their fantasy playoffs. While they remained active for a majority of the season, Spiller and Rice suffered injuries that may have attributed to a lower production level than fantasy owners were expecting.

One of the factors for Richardson’s 11th ranked season last year was his rushing touchdowns. If you break down his touchdowns, Richardson had 7 games where he did not produce a rushing touchdown, and his touchdown runs averaged 10.28 yards a carry. It is important to note that he had 4 touchdowns of 1 yard, and two touchdowns over 25 yards. Since 36% of his rushing touchdowns came from the 1 yard line, his goal line looks are an essential part of his fantasy success. His touchdowns of 26 ad 32 yards are outliers, so if you remove those and his 1 yard line looks, Richardson would have had five total touchdowns on the season.

The receiving receptions and targets look impressive for the Colts running back, but he was still outside the top ten for running backs in receiving yards. The only category where Richardson was a top ten player in the running game was his rushing touchdowns, and as mentioned above they were goaline heavy with a few runs that were out of the norm. He had decent receiving yards, but his 950 rushing yards should have been somewhat alarming.

So… Was Richardson over hyped or did he just under perform? The answer seems to be a little bit of both. Without a big body of work to help predict his performance, the 2012 season was the only way to judge any future performance. Being ranked 11th, Richardson seemed poised to either make a splash in the top ten, or fall slightly outside again. There wasn’t any expert who could have predicted that RIchardson would have been traded and had the type of season that he did, but again, Richardson’s total touchdowns seemed to drown out his rushing and receiving yards.

With two completely different seasons, fantasy owners will have a very risky bet on their hands if they plan to take Richardson in the first four rounds. Will the 2012-2013 rushing touchdown machine make an appearance, or will we see more of the 2013-2014 under performer? Get comfy. We have a whole year to find out.

Jack Delaney

Categories: Fantasy Football

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