With St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson suffering a groin injury against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, Daryl Richardson has become one of the hottest names on the waiver wire this week for fantasy football managers.
Back in June, not only was Isaiah Pead locked in as the handcuff to Jackson, he was also the leading candidate to become the Rams’ feature back whenever S-Jax hangs up the cleats. Pead was the No. 50 overall selection out of Cincinnati in the 2012 NFL Draft while Richardson was just some 7th-rounder out of Abilene Christian—the second-to-last pick of the entire draft. One spot away from being Mr. Irrelevant. An afterthought.
Pead, however, underwhelmed in training camp and during the preseason while Richardson made the most of his opportunity, repeatedly catching the eye of Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.
Lo and behold, when the Rams needed to make a change at running back on Sunday, it was Richardson, not Pead, who got the tap on the helmet. Richardson carried the ball 15 times for 83 yards and added two receptions for 19 yards.
Pead? Never even touched the ball.
So the question for fantasy football managers now is: Is Richardson worth a waiver claim?
If you own Jackson or Pead, or you’re in a keeper or dynasty league, the answer is yes. Richardson has clearly taken over the No. 2 role in the Rams backfield, so if you own Jackson, you’ll want Richardson as his handcuff. If you own Pead, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle if Jackson goes down, signs are pointing toward Richardson as your new target. Zero in on him.
If you’re in a redraft league and hoping to plug Richardson in as a starting running back in Week 3 because Chris Johnson is horrible or because you’re a panicked owner of Matt Forte, the answer is no.
Jackson’s groin injury appears to be minor, and Fisher said he could have reentered the Redskins game if Richardson had struggled. Jackson has already said that he’s shooting to start this week against the Chicago Bears.
Even if Jackson doesn’t play, the Bears are now aware of Richardson and have film to watch and time to prepare for him. A team that’s already stingy in allowing fantasy points to running backs (No. 21 in Yahoo public leagues) isn’t going to let some 7th-round draft pick torch them on their home field.
After dealing with Chicago, the Rams host the Seattle Seahawks, who are even tougher against the run than the Bears (No. 27).
Richardson, then, is likely not a quick fix for anyone’s running back woes. But if you have time to wait, or you want to protect your investment in Steven Jackson, Richardson’s your guy.
If you need a running back for Week 3, consider targeting Jonathan Dwyer (28 percent owned in Yahoo fantasy football leagues), Mikel LeShoure (36 percent owned), or Dexter McCluster (38 percent owned), who is actually a wide receiver but who also qualifies as a RB in most fantasy football leagues.