There has been a great deal of debate on the Internet as to when running back Trent Richardson should be drafted in fantasy football leagues. In dynasty and keeper formats he should be within the top 3 picks. In redraft leagues there is a lot more room for analysis and discussion before you can make that decision. I will try and point out all things for you to consider before you draft and hopefully this will help you make a more informed choice when it is your turn in the draft this year.
The Cleveland Browns gave up a lot to move up 1 spot in the NFL draft to select Richardson. It is pretty obvious that they like his skill set. They have a big opening at the running back position after not resigning Peyton Hillis. He is a true 3 down back with the skills to stay in on 3rd down and can catch the ball out of the backfield. His power and speed have led many comparisons to Adrian Peterson , and we all know how he turned out. Trent is a candidate to reach 320 total touches this year for a Browns team full of new personnel at the skill positions.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Josh Gordan are also rookies this year, but the passing game takes a lot longer to learn and grow. 2nd year wide receiver Greg Little showed some promise last year, but still has much to learn. With so many players still learning the ins and outs of NFL defenses, the Browns will lean heavily early and often on Trent Richardson to run the ball. Peyton Hillis came out of nowhere to have a great year with the Browns 2 seasons ago, so the Browns do know how to run block. It does help out that they do have perhaps the best left tackle in football in Joe Thomas. He will be able to provide holes for Richardson to run through early in his career. Trent will not be able to run only behind Thomas however and the rest of the Browns line is just ordinary.
The comparison with Peterson doesn't stop at the NFL draft. The Cleveland Browns brought in Brad Childress to be the new offensive coordinator this year. Childress was the Minnesota Vikings head coach when they selected Adrian Peterson at #7 overall in the 2007 draft. If you remember though, the Vikings started Chester Taylor to begin the season before Peterson finally took over. The Browns really don't have another running back to rely on to start ahead of Richardson. It will be his position from day one.
Richardson led the Alabama Crimson Tide to the national title last year and he ran for 1,679 yards and totaled 24 touchdowns. That is a big increase from what the Browns were able to do. Cleveland ran the ball 52.5 % of the time in the red zone yet only had 4 total rushing touchdowns, the lowest in the NFL. Richardson's nose for the end zone is a definite need in Cleveland and hopes are that he can produce right away. The bad news is that the AFC North is loaded with great run defenses with their 3 division rivals all ranking in the top 10 against the rush. The good news is that 1 of those games is at Pittsburgh in week 17 and most fantasy seasons are done.
Richardson is currently ranked at #17 on FFToolbox.com and the 9th rated running back while Myfantasyleagues.com shows an ADP of #16 and the 9th rated running back. The running back position has all sorts of questions with so many injuries, old age, and time-share questions. Trent has none of those going in. Most rookie running backs have not fared very well lately and many owners want a proven player when selecting that early in the draft instead of putting their hopes and season on a rookie. You can either play it safe, or you can swing for the fences. One of my friends swung for the fences back in 2007 with Adrian Peterson and he had a very good year. The trouble is, it can also come back and bite you on your backside if he doesn't pan out.