ANDERSON, IN --- Trent Richardson's 2013 fantasy season was a bust, but after hearing what he had to say about his first Colts experience after being traded away by the Brown mid-season, it's easy for me to throw out last season and invest a mid-round pick in Richardson, as a low-risk, high-reward type RB2/Flex.
For starters, he wasn't healthy once he finally started to get comfortable with the offense towards the end of last season.
"A lot of people know I broke my shoulder last year. I had a torn AC joint, but I'm still going to be me and I'm still going to be out there no matter what," said Richardson after the team's Thursday morning walkthrough. "I wasn't swimming around the whole year, but when I got the chance to know the offense I was injured. I was still out there just fighting."
Secondly, he's now had an entire offseason to get a full grasp of the offense. In many ways, Richardson was completely thrown into the fire upon arriving with the Colts. Fantasy managers have heard this all offseason, but Richardson wasn't sure sometimes if he was even getting the ball pre-snap. He said Thursday there were times Andrew Luck would audible at the line of scrimmage or make a check, and Richardson wouldn't know what it was.
In other words, Richardson agreed he couldn't play instinctually with the Colts last season.
"Yeah it was about like that. I can agree with you a lot on that. When you don't know exactly what you're going to do or what your plan B is and you just have your mind set on plan A, you lose a lot of instincts," Richardson explained. "...there comes a time when your football I.Q. just takes over. I didn't really have the time to regress that, trying to learn a system, trying to learn what everyone else was doing, trying to be a second set of eyes for the quarterback."
That's why this training camp is incredibly valuable to Richardson's real life and fantasy value.
"Oh yeah, man. Times like this you get to be around your team. You get to build unity. You get to be a unit with each other. You get your timing," said Richardson. "I feel like my timing was so off from everybody last year, with the offensive line, with the quarterback, even with certain handoffs or certain steps. I feel like my timing was so far off."
Richardson said the only thing he read this summer was his playbook, but Ahmad Bradshaw will still be in the mix as well, competing for that top spot with Richardson, and fantasy managers would be wise to draft Bradshaw as well as Richardson to solidify that spot in their fantasy lineups. Why? Because the coaching staff isn't planning on the dreaded running back by committee.
"Do you want one bell cow?" head coach Chuck Pagano asked allowed Thursday. "Yeah, you'd like to have a bell cow, we'll see if that happens."
Those are magical words to fantasy football managers ears - BELL COW.
Richardson will get first crack at that opportunity, one would assume, after the Colts spent a first round pick to acquire him. At the team's first practice Thursday, Richardson and Bradshaw split reps with the first team.
NFL.com average draft position has Trent Richardson being taken after the 5th round. If you can snag him as a flex starter, it could be the pick that wins you a fantasy championship. There were just too many factors working against Richardson in 2013 to dismiss him from your draft rankings in 2014.
With the crop of feature backs in the NFL shrinking, and with an offense like the Colts that will produce plenty of opportunities for short touchdowns, Richardson could pay off huge.
Draft him. The value is there.