Fantasy owners rejoice! Jeff Fisher has finally named Daryl Richardson the St. Louis Rams’ starting running back.
At least for Week 1.
ESPN fantasy football guru Matthew Berry touted his own prediction when announcing the move on Twitter:
As we've been saying for weeks, Darryl Richardson the Rams RB you want. Jeff Fisher names him wk 1 starter.— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) August 19, 2013
After finally getting the nod from his coaches, what does it mean for Richardson in the fantasy realm? Prior to officially earning the starting honors, Richardson was being selected in drafts far below the rest of the running backs in the league.
According to Fantasypros.com, his average draft position has been 80th overall, and he’s been the 33rd back coming off the board.
Anytime you can snag a serviceable starting running back, especially in the mid-to-late rounds, you’d be wise to do your homework. Luckily for you, we’ve got everything you need here to make your decision on when to roll the dice with Richardson.
What We Know
In 2012, Richardson emerged as a viable fantasy option while splitting time with longtime Rams starter Steven Jackson. Appearing in 16 games a season ago, the rookie back failed to score a touchdown but totaled 475 yards on 98 carries and also snagged 24 receptions for 163 yards.
Jackson received the bulk of the workload. He ran the ball 257 times for 1,042 yards with four touchdowns and caught 38 balls for 321 yards.
The Rams, while able to run the ball moderately effectively with 107 yards per game (19th best in the NFL), scored just five rushing touchdowns. Only the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers scored fewer times on the ground.
Richardson has breakaway speed. NFLDraftScout.com recorded his fastest 40-yard dash time as 4.38 seconds. His speed was evident on a 53-yard run that set up a Rams touchdown last season. The question, though, has always been whether or not his 5’10”, 196-pound frame would hold up against the grueling punishment of being a feature back.
What to Expect in 2013
In theory, Richardson fits the mold of the type of back that will excel in that kind of approach. With Richardson taking the night off, though, St. Louis averaged just 2.5 yards per carry against the Green Bay Packers in their second preseason matchup.
Fisher didn’t seem worried.
What is the earliest you'd pick Daryl Richardson?
“We really didn’t commit to the run. It was hard because of what they were doing and what we were trying to do. I’m not concerned about it,” he said, per Doug Vaughn of KMOV.com.
Realistically, Richardson’s biggest value will likely come in Points-Per-Reception (PPR) leagues. He’s an adequate pass-catcher who can make plays in space. He isn’t a power rusher who will garner 30 carries per contest, though.
And there doesn’t appear to be anyone capable of taking significant carries away from him—at least to start the year. Zac Stacy hasn’t impressed, and Isaiah Peed at best has been underwhelming to this point in his young NFL career.
Feel safe in targeting Richardson, who should command most of the snaps this season at running back, in the mid rounds. He likely won’t lead the NFL in rushing, or in touchdowns, but he’ll get enough touches on the ground and in the passing game to finish as a solid RB2 or serviceable spot starter.