Colts running back Trent Richardson is going to be one of the best bounce-back candidates in 2014. He's someone to consider as a flex option or even a No. 2 running back depending on how your team comes together on Draft Day.
Richardson was miserable in 2013 after he was traded from the Browns to the Colts in Week 3. He struggled with the playbook and finished with 157 carries for 458 yards (2.9 yards per carry) and three touchdowns and 28 catches for 265 yards and one touchdown.
But Richardson was never comfortable with the Colts, and it showed on the field. He was outplayed by Donald Brown, and he was a huge letdown for Fantasy owners.
There's going to be trepidation in trusting him this season, but there are a couple of things working in his favor. He has little competition since all the Colts did was bring back Ahmad Bradshaw, who is coming off neck surgery, and Vick Ballard is coming back from a torn ACL.
Richardson should know the plays this year, and the Colts upgraded on offense with the additions of Hakeem Nicks at receiver and rookie guard Jack Mewhort, along with getting Reggie Wayne (ACL) and Dwayne Allen (hip) back from injury. There is a lot of firepower in Indianapolis, and Richardson will remain the starting running back.
If you want a good comparison for Richardson, go back to 2010 with Marshawn Lynch. He was traded from Buffalo to Seattle in Week 5 and struggled. In 12 games with the Seahawks that year, Lynch had 165 carries for 573 yards (3.5 yards per carry) and six touchdowns and 21 catches for 138 yards.
Lynch reached 100 rushing yards just once in his first 20 games with the Seahawks, and it came in the memorable game against the Saints in the playoffs in 2010 when he ran through the entire defense. In 2011, Lynch had 285 carries for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns and 28 catches for 212 yards and a touchdown. He is now considered one of the best running backs in the NFL.
Will Richardson have a similar second season with the Colts? We hope so, and keep in mind he played well with the Browns as a rookie in 2012 with 267 carries for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns and 51 catches for 367 yards and one touchdown.
We're not saying to reach for Richardson on Draft Day. But if he's sitting there in Round 5 or later and all the quality running backs are off the board then he's worth the risk. He can only improve, and the Colts are counting on him to succeed. So should Fantasy owners.