Last year, Trent Richardson was a beaten man. Even before training camp in Cleveland, Richardson was dealing with injuries.
Through his first season in Ohio, the former Alabama running back dealt with nagging injuries that halted his progress, gaining only 950 yards in his rookie campaign. This year looks to be different.
While the Browns have a new look, a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator (Norv Turner), the Browns expect to get the ball in Richardson’s hands early and often.
But in the eyes of this reporter, all the success and changes over the course of the offseason does not make Richardson, the former No. 3 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft a first rounder in fantasy football drafts.
Looking at the league and the lists of potential runners who could be scooped up in the first round, I have Richardson listed as a middle of the road pick, the second wave of runners who will find spots on rosters in the second and third rounds. My concerns about Richardson are easy to identify. A new head coach, new system, an erratic quarterback and the city he plays in. They are all part of a recipe for success or disaster.
Regardless of an NFL.com report where Turner, the former San Diego Chargers' head coach, said he expects Richardson to get the ball 300 times this year, the idea of nagging shin injuries could be a concern, rather should be a concern on every fantasy owner’s mind.
At 5’9” and 230 pounds, there is no doubt Richardson can take the beating he will receive as the every-down back in Cleveland’s running game. He is expected to take some of the heat off of Brandon Weeden as he continues to learn the NFL game and make adjustments in Turner’s offense. Weeden is not Philip Rivers. Richardson is not LaDainian Tomlinson. Each would need super-human seasons to justify those accolades.
Those accolades won’t happen in Cleveland.
Richardson will gain about 1,100 yards and score 10 touchdowns this season - a nice season by anyone’s standards. But with Giovani Bernard bursting on the scene and Steven Jackson revitalizing his career in Atlanta, there are sure signs 10 other running backs could be taken before Richardson. That may include LeSean McCoy and Maurice Jones-Drew.
In a running back-driven draft, Richardson must prove himself more before he is considered a first round talent. He is a great second back in your offense, but not worthy of top billing.