Last year Cleveland threw to their running backs on about 21% of their passing attempts. That was actually top half of the league. But the killer thing for Trent Richardson’s fantasy value is that new Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s Chargers threw to their running backs on 31% of pass attempts. That was 2nd in the league and only trailed Kansas City (which likely got a boost from however many failed targets they threw to Dexter McCluster – who is classified as an RB in my database).

If Richardson can stay healthy, he has a real chance to be a throwback workhorse running back of the type that is becoming more and more rare around the league. There are just fewer and fewer guys capable of handling passing downs, the goal line work and running between the 20s. If the Browns threw to running backs at the same rate that SD did last year, that would be even more often than TB did did in 2012.  So Richardson has the potential to out-touch even Doug Martin. It also adds a ton of safety to Richardson’s fantasy value because you don’t have to worry that the team falls behind and Richardson is sitting around watching.

Richardson caught 51 passes last year, which is pretty good. But that was only two more than Ronnie Brown caught in SD in a part time role. Also remember that LaMont Jordan had a 70 reception season under Norv in Oakland. Norv’s first season with LaDanian Tomlinson was 2007, when LT caught 60 balls.

Below is the full table showing the percent of targets to running backs across the league. I’ll go through some other thoughts in bullet point form and then you can check out the table after that:

  • If Aaron Kromer continues to run an offense that gets 30% of targets to RBs, that’s very good for Matt Forte
  • Matthew Freedman’s post on Steven Jackson gives the argument for Jackson’s upside this year. If the Falcons can consolidate the running and passing game (22% of targets went to RBs in 2012) into one running back, Jackson would also have a lot of upside.
  • It’s interesting to see Joe Philbin’s MIA team toward the top of the list while his former team, the Packers, are at the bottom of the list. That’s probably a caution flag as it relates to trying to translate OC play calling tendencies when situations change.
  • I don’t think anyone really knows what the Titans offense will look like, but they have nowhere to go but up when it comes to targets to running backs. It would be great to see Chris Johnson get back up into the 400-500 yards receiving range.
OFF Targets to Running Backs Share of Targets
KC 177 39%
SD 155 31%
NO 194 30%
OAK 162 26%
MIA 129 26%
ATL 134 22%
BAL 122 22%
BUF 110 22%
CLE 117 21%
TB 111 20%
DET 144 20%
PIT 111 20%
SEA 76 19%
STL 97 18%
MIN 83 17%
CHI 83 17%
DAL 110 17%
CAR 82 17%
NYJ 81 17%
PHI 100 17%
SF 66 15%
JAC 84 15%
DEN 84 14%
NYG 74 14%
HOU 74 14%
GB 73 13%
NE 84 13%
ARI 78 13%
WAS 55 13%
TEN 63 12%
CIN 59 11%
IND 51 8%

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