Trent Richardson Will Top 300 Carries This Season
Rotoworld.com suggests that Richardson will "flirt with 325-350 carries." 350 is a bit of a stretch (only one player topped 301 last season), but I think Richardson is definitely likely to top 300 if he can stay healthy (which, historically, he has). The impact that Trent Richardson is about to make on the Browns' offense is exactly why I was a fan of the controversial decision to take him third overall in the NFL Draft. It's certainly true that it's much easier to find a reliable running back these days than it has been in the past, but the Browns already swung and missed in both free agency and the draft, signing Brandon Jackson and drafting Montario Hardesty. After not being able to agree on a dollar amount with former feature back Peyton Hillis, the Browns needed to make a move for a good running back. Richardson is essentially a lock to be a solid NFL runner, and I believe he's more than likely to be exceptional. He's got incredible power, great speed and agility, and is effective in the passing game. That is exactly what the Browns needed with a weak receiving core and inexperienced options at the quarterback position.
From a fantasy standpoint, Richardson could be a steal. Any halfway decent running back who takes 300 handoffs will produce for your fantasy team, and Richardson is far better than "halfway decent." Right now, ESPN's mock draft has Richardson going in the early 4th round at 33rd overall as the 16th running back taken. That means they're drafting him as a below averaged RB2. There are more good running backs this year than there have been in a long time, and the field is very crowded, and I believe that Richardson has a chance to be as good as just about any of them. There's no reason to invest your second-round pick in a guy like Marshawn Lynch or Darren McFadden (both of whom I love, but Marshawn was wildly inconsistent last year and D-Mac is injury prone) when you can snag a top five wide receiver and get a potential RB1 in a later round. I understand that Richardson may be limited by the Browns' inept offense, but as an incredibly talented workhorse back who's the primary goal-line option and will likely top 50 catches, Richardson has stud potential.