The trio of Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy entered training camp in what was perceived to be a tight, three-way competition at the running back position, even though Richardson was considered as a slight favorite to ultimately capture the starting slot. But now that Jeff Fisher has somewhat surprisingly stated “I think Daryl comes back as our starter”, it is reasonable to anoint Richardson as the Rams’ No.1 back, and examine how extensively Fisher’s statement impacts his value. Plus, it creates the need to reassess the merits of owning Pead and Stacy.
The does appear that Richardson has to extended the pattern of vaulting above Pead on the depth chart, as he outdueled his fellow rookie last season by achieving significantly more playing time. This despite the fact that Richardson was not selected until the seventh round of 2012’s NFL Draft. Yet, he managed to ascend beyond Pead, who had seemingly become the heir apparent toward eventually securing Steven Jackson’s feature back role, when the Rams selected him with the 50th overall pick. But the 5’ 10”, 195 pound Richardson ultimately captured far more touches last season. That enabled him to collect 475 yards on 98 attempts (4.8 YPC), and garner 24 receptions for 163 yards. He also displayed an impressive burst, yet was more adept at running between the tackles than his stature would lead you to expect.
Meanwhile, Pead was only allotted 10 carries all season, and manufactured 54 yards. That is obviously a limited sample size, which has made it exceedingly difficult to truly ascertain his chances of overtaking Richardson. He does retain the potential to become an effective runner, but has struggled in pass protection. Plus, his one game suspension for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy will occur as the regular season commences, and that certainly does not benefit him as he contends for touches. Although the situation is undeniably fluid, and Pead could still emerge at some point to seize a larger portion of the overall workload. The same principle applies with Stacy, although a sizable role early in his rookie season is improbable.
Regardless, Richardson is the starter right now. As of this writing, 36 RBs are being drafted before him, and his ADP of 104 places him in Round 9. Jonathan Stewart, Mark Ingram, Andre Brown, and Rashard Mendenhall are among the backs who have been drafted before him, although Richardson’s ADP will almost assuredly improve as a result of Fisher’s comment. This situation could evolve as the weeks unfold, and will continue to do so during the regular season. But considering the relative scarcity of backs throughout the draft process this summer, the most accurate position for Richardson should occur at least three rounds earlier. Meanwhile, Pead and Stacy currently have ADPs of 125 and 137 respectively, which are not significantly behind Richardson’s. And given the ambiguous nature of this three-way competition, there is no reason to drop them if you have already invested a draft selection in either back. Nor should you pass them up if you have the opportunity to employ a late round flier.