Richardson’s health the key to a breakout second season

Despite ending up with some solid rookie numbers in 2012, Trent Richardson still has quite a bit to prove at the NFL level. The Cleveland Browns are in a tough AFC North division, so if they plan on having success in 2013, Richardson is going to have to lead the offense.

Quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson got most of the rookie attention last season, but there were three running backs who ended up with solid seasons. With all due respect to Alfred Morris and Doug Martin, Richardson has the highest ceiling of them all.

The early workload got the best of Richardson last season, as he had to deal with multiple injuries. It started with a minor knee surgery in August, then broken ribs in the middle of the season and finally an ankle issue that made him sit out the regular season finale.

Heading into the season fully healthy, this could be a true breakout season for the former Alabama standout. He is already one of the best pass catchers at his position, and he is big and strong enough to withstand goal line work. All you look for in a solid fantasy football pick. As Cleveland continues to try and sort out their quarterback situation, they will need Richardson to provide value all season long.

Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati all have defenses that rank in the top half of the NFL. The AFC North figures to be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL this season as well, but teams are likely to try and shut down everyone else on the Browns and let Richardson get his. Now that he is healthy, there is no reason not to believe that he won’t be able to easily justify his draft position (third overall) in 2012.

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