Recent reports out of Indianapolis have Donald Brown not being resigned this offseason by the Colts. His salary would likely be used to fix offensive line, wide receiver and defensive line issues. That move would make Trent Richardson the undisputed starter in Indianapolis, despite averaging over 2 yards per carry less than Brown in 2013.
Debate rages every season and postseason amongst the frustrated fantasy owners with a first round bust about who was the worst of the worst. This year proved a difficult one for first round selections. Trent Richardson is among, if not atop that list.
But now what? We all know Richardson's story thus far, but with speculation growing that Donald Brown won't be retained in free agency, it's difficult to speculate as to Richardson's next chapter.
There are competing forces at work here. According to the Pro Football Focus Elusive Ratings Richardson finished as the seventh most elusive back in the league. True story. Their formulae takes into account yards after contact and forcing missed tackles among other variables and is highly regarded as a leading indicator of the success or failure of a running back, factoring out offensive line play.
Why doesn't this seem right to you? Frankly it's not just his numbers; Richardson simply looked terrible. If you watched some Indy games, you would have seen him repeatedly run up the backside of his linemen, seemingly devoid of vision or brute strength. Brown, conversely, would skirt his lumbering, ineffective run-blockers and routinely break the first line of defense.
But If Richardson is the lead back in a run first offense, where do you take him? Is he a high upside, late fourth round pick? Or not before the seventh, and likely let someone else worry about him? There will be no competition for his services from his former owners and with the unfortunate numbers put up last year, they're may not be any competition for Richardson as anything more than an RB3/Flex.
Richardson believes an extra year with the playbook and a full offseason program with the team will bring a much better season. Using his elusive rankings as a baseline, I actually believe him. It's also possible that he needs to be a workhorse back in order to be successful. Some backs simply don't perform well coming off the field for long stretches. And while the Colts obviously can't use a first round pick to fix the offensive line, you can expect it to be addressed in the draft.
Long story short: keep a sharp eye on Richardson's ADP this offseason and watch the draft coverage in May before closing the "Book of Trent" for good. He may provide good value as an RB2 if the rest of your league avoids him.