Coach Rob Chudzinski came out on Tuesday and said he wants Trent Richardson to “play as much as possible.” Richardson’s only backups are running back-fullback hybrid Chris Ogbonnaya and inexperienced youngsters Dennis Johnson and Bobby Rainey. Richardson is an every-down workhorse back who is part of all third-down and two-minute packages in Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s scheme.
Turner knows how to use his No. 1 running back. LaDainian Tomlinson averaged 335 touches per 16 games under Turner from 2007-2009 with San Diego. Turner’s already said that he wants Richardson to carry the ball at least 300 times this season.
"Obviously, the trend in the league is to not do that, but I think it depends on your team and everyone around it," Turner said. "If that player is your best player, then I think it's probably a good thing to have him in the game and give him the ball. So I would hope Trent would have that many carries. If we're in a two-minute situation, I don't think any of us want Trent standing on the sidelines.”
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Only five backs in the league carried the ball 300-plus times last season. Richardson toted it 267 times as a rookie. He’s a rocked-up 5-foot-11, 224 pounds, so he’s built to carry the mail. A 350-plus touch season isn’t out of reach for Richardson in 2013.
Ex-Browns coach Pat Shurmur was one of the more vanilla play-callers in the league. He rarely got his star running back into space. Richardson owners likely weren’t completely pleased with last season’s results, but T-Rich still ended the season as the No. 9 fantasy back. If you secured Richardson near the end of the first round in fantasy drafts this summer, you’re likely going to be one happy camper come the end of the year. We had Richardson as our No. 8 running back in the Draft Guide, but he could easily end up a top-five back – maybe even top-three. The workload is going to be there. As long as Richardson stays healthy, a big-time breakout season is on the docket. He’s arguably the top back to own in Dynasty.
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News Nugget #2
The Jets are listing Bilal Powell as their starting tailback on the Week 1 depth chart. Chris Ivory is No. 2. Take away the second preseason game against a leaky Jaguars defense when Powell averaged a whopping 9.7 YPC on seven rushes, you’ll see that he posted a pitiful 1.5 YPC mark on his 20 other exhibition totes. Powell is a plodding, straight-line, passive runner with next-to-zero shiftiness and lateral agility. He’s going to get what’s blocked.
It appears the Jets are going with the dreaded running back by committee approach for the opener. Even though Powell may start, we’d expect Ivory to handle plenty of early-down work while Powell mixes in on passing downs. Ivory is clearly the more talented runner. He’ll run through a wall if he has to. A lingering hamstring injury forced him to miss a considerable amount of time this summer, though, and undoubtedly lead to him getting passed on the depth chart – if you want to even call it getting “passed.”
Our advice is to just shy away from Jets running backs this week. They’re taking on the Bucs, who finished 2012 as the top-ranked run defense in terms of yards allowed. Gang Green will likely find itself behind on the scoreboard, leading to plenty of pass calls from offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
News Nugget #3
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed Isaac Redman will be the Opening Day starter at running back against the Titans. There had been a previous report that “Fragile” Felix Jones was going to get the nod to open the game. Redman sat out much of training camp and the preseason with a stinger, but he’s ready to roll. He’s obviously going to be spelled by Jones and La’Rod Stephens-Howling often, though Redman says he wants to see 20-plus carries. Tennessee had a bottom-ten run defense in 2012. However, we’d stay far away from all Steelers running backs until Le’Veon Bell returns from his foot sprain.
Depth Chart Slants
The Cowboys signed RG Brian Waters to a one-year contract. He won’t be ready for Sunday’s opener, but his signing is great news for DeMarco Murray, Tony Romo, and the entire offense. … Atlanta signed tackle Jeremy Trueblood. The right side of the Falcons’ offensive line is a major concern with Lamar Holmes in line to make his first career start at right tackle. … The Browns filled their kicker vacancy with Billy Cundiff. He’s had the yips ever since missing a 32-yard chip shot in the 2011 AFC Championship Game against the Patriots. … Santonio Holmes is listed as a starter on the Week 1 depth chart. … The Rams are still listing Austin Pettis as the starting receiver opposite Chris Givens. Brian Quick needs to overtake Pettis at some point this season. Neither player is on the re-draft fantasy radar at the moment. … Kyle Williams is listed as the 49ers’ No. 2 receiver on the Week 1 depth chart. He missed the entire preseason. Marlon Moore will likely start the opener. Rookie Quinton Patton is probably even ahead of Williams. … The Saints signed Robert Meachem to a one-year deal. We still like Kenny Stills better as the situational deep threat. … Danny Woodhead is behind Ronnie Brown on the Chargers’ depth chart. Don’t pay attention to it. Woodhead is the far superior talent. … The Bolts list Eddie Royal as the No. 2 receiver opposite Malcom Floyd. It’s possible he may be in the game ahead of Vincent Brown in two-wide sets. Royal will man the slot when the Chargers go three-wide. … Nate Washington is the No. 2 receiver ahead of Kendall Wright in Tennessee. We’d still rather own Wright in fantasy. … Ryan Williams is the No. 2 back in Arizona. … Zach Sudfeld is expected to play 30-40 snaps in the opener against Buffalo. He’s a back-end TE1 this week.
Mark Sanchez (shoulder) won’t be ready for Week 1. Geno Smith will get the start against the Bucs. … Doctors say Brandon Marshall’s hip is in “great shape.” There’s no reason to worry about him. Marshall is a top-three receiver nearly every week. … Miles Austin got through the summer with zero hamstring issues. We like him as a WR3 with upside this week. … Blain Gabbert (thumb) said he felt some discomfort after throwing Monday. … Panthers rookie Kenjon Barner (ankle) isn’t optimistic about his chances of playing this week. … Coach Pete Carroll says Percy Harvin is “progressing well” from hip surgery, but gave no timetable for return. … DeAndre Hopkins passed his concussion tests and is set to play Monday night. … Le’Veon Bell (foot) will try to get in a “partial” practice this week. … Ed Dickson (hamstring) is practicing in full this week. He’s ready to go for the opener, but is nothing more than a TE2. … Pierre Garcon said his troublesome foot/toe is “100 percent.” He’s a top-ten receiver play this week against a vulnerable Eagles secondary. … Andre Brown (broken leg) was placed on short-term injured reserve. He’ll be out until Week 8, and can’t play until Week 9. … Steelers placed Matt Spaeth (foot surgery) on short-term injured reserve. Heath Miller should be back in the mix as the starter by then. … Jordy Nelson (knee) has been medically cleared to play in the opener against San Francisco. Keep an eye on this week’s injury report for further updates on Nelson.