During every start-up draft one of the keys to having a successful first season is finding value in the later rounds. Every so often someone will get lucky and pick that rookie free agent who steals the starting job and blows up, but usually the best you can hope for is a really solid bye week guy or someone to play when your starter misses a game. A player who fits this description perfectly is Jalen Richard.
Richard is currently going as RB63 with an ADP of 213 overall; yet he was actually the 29th highest (PPR) running back last season. On a point per game average he was considerably lower at 42, but let’s do some simple math before we write him off. In a twelve team league with two required starting running backs, at least 24 backs will start every week. If every team only had two back ups, or four RBs per team, then there would be 48 roostered RBs and even Richard’s less impressive 42nd PPG for running backs is within that range.
Last season Richard more than doubled his receptions and in fact he had more receptions than his first two seasons combined. He was even tied for most receptions on his team and third in total receiving yards. Richard also increased his catch rate last season from 75% in 2017 to 84% in 2018. Also worth noting, Richard had five fewer fumbles in 2018 than in 2017, even though he had 40 more touches. All of this lead to Oakland showing that they envision him being a part of their game plan by re-signing Richard to a one year deal worth $3.09 million this offseason.
Many people are predicting Darren Waller to have a good year as he seems to be the Jared Cook replacement, but I think that is discounting the “safety net” role Richard has become for Carr and we might see Richard take some of the additional targets that Cook’s absence has left vacant. Oakland has made improvements to their defense in the draft, added Antonio Brown, and right tackle Trent Brown. We are looking at a much more talented team than last season, and that should lead to more production for everyone on the team.
Now, don’t misinterpret what I’m suggesting. I am not advocating taking Richard in the eighth round, but he has been going in the seventeenth round so depending on your position he could be worth taking late in the sixteenth. However, as always you will need to read your league. If a lot of running backs are still on the board, there is no reason to suspect he will be targeted by the majority of managers and you might be able to wait as far as the twentieth.