In a division with three playoff teams (Pitt, Balt. and Cincy) – the Browns face an uphill battle to gain relevance in the AFC North. However, they took a major step in the right direction with the first round selection of a RB that many have proclaimed the most NFL ready since AP went #7 overall in 2007.
The Browns needed to address one of the league’s more anemic offenses (averaged just 14 PPG in 2011). Their ground game plummeted to 26th in 2011 (96 YPG) as Peyton Hills and Montario Hardesty battled injuries. Peyton Hillis signed a one year contract with Kansas City and Hardesty has now played in only 10 games over his first 2 NFL seasons.
Richardson is all but locked into a full workload in his rookie season and should be the focal point of the Browns offense as they try to limit the amount of mistakes QB Colt McCoy makes.
FakeTeams.com projects Richardson as a 3rd round value despite the recent struggles of rookies Ryan Mathews and Daniel Thomas.
FantasyLeagueGM ranks Richardson as their #13 fantasy RB entering 2012.
Montario Hardesty’s roster spot could be in jeopardy.
4for4.com notes that Richardson has top 10 fantasy RB upside despite playing for the offensively challenged Browns.
Check out our PreDraft analysis on Trent Richardson in our Draft spotlight.
T-Rich won’t face many cupcake matchups as Cleveland faces the 6th most difficult schedule for opposing Running Backs in 2012.
FANTASY FOOTBALL SPIN:
ADP: 22 overall / RB 13
Regardless of whether Colt McCoy or fellow rookie Brandon Weeden are under center – expect the Browns offense to be one of the more run-centric units in the league.
Peyton Hillis was a top 5 fantasy RB in 2010 and Richardson has a much higher fantasy ceiling so it wouldn’t be crazy to consider him as a 2nd round value despite not having taken an NFL snap. T-Rich has ideal size (5’11, 225) to be a workhorse RB and his solid pass blocking / receiving ability makes him a candidate for 20-25 carries a game.
Richardson is a borderline RB1 and rock solid RB2 as the Browns boast a solid yet unspectacular offensive line. The Browns O-line led by Pro Bowler LT Joe Thomas are considered to be much better in run blocking.
One word of caution for Richardson’s fantasy prospects is the fact that Cleveland will face a very difficult schedule for opposing RBs (including 4 games against division rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh).