Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson is, currently, the most polarizing player in NFL best ball. The Colts took the 6’4″, 245 pound Richardson fourth overall, a nice landing spot after the Colts signed Shane Steichen as their head coach this offseason after he served as the offensive coordinator for the Eagles the past two seasons, during which Jalen Hurts blossomed into one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
The likeliest scenario is that Richardson is the day one starter for the Colts this year over veteran Gardner Minshew. But the range of outcomes is enormous. Richardson, who is relatively inexperienced for a quarterback entering the NFL, might not immediately start for the Colts. Or he might start and not be ready for NFL competition his first year, leading to a lot of three-and-outs and defenses forcing him to throw while his accuracy is still an issue. But he also might rush for 1,000 yards his rookie year while keeping defenses honest with his rocket of an arm. He might be an immediate top tier fantasy quarterback.
NFL Best Ball Anthony Richardson Breakdown
Richardson’s current average draft position (ADP) in Underdog Fantasy NFL best ball drafts is 85.1. And nobody knows if that’s way too high or way too low. But everybody is talking about it.
In Underdog’s YouTube player breakdown, Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) calls Richardson “the most athletic quarterback to ever enter the NFL,” and Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) adds, “By far.”
Tom Strachan (@NFL_TStrack) noted in his Anthony Richardson breakdown for Underdog that Richardson averaged 8.5 rush attempts per game in his final college season. Strachan added that in the NFL, “In 2022 as a whole there were 80 instances of quarterbacks rushing for 39 yards or more and 66% of them resulted in top twelve weekly finishes. If Richardson can rush for 39 yards or more per game, there’s a very good chance he’ll be a top-twelve quarterback that week.”
Respected veteran best ball addict James Brimacombe (@JamesBrimacombe) Tweeted that Richardson is “the worst pick in Best Ball right now.” Chris Spags (@ChrisSpags) of Football Outsiders, meanwhile, says, “There is no price I won’t pay to draft Anthony Richardson.”
Sam Sherman (@Sherman_FFB) of the Ship Chasing podcast made a Twitter thread examining what we need from Richardson to pay off his current ADP. Sherman noted, “At Florida in 2022, Anthony Richardson averaged 23 fantasy points per game[.] Drafters are now expecting that to immediately translate to the NFL, projecting [Richardson] to get to ~20 points per game as a rookie.”
This is just a fraction of the chatter surrounding Richardson currently, and I don’t have any great stats or unique reads to add to it. Richardson is simply a known unknown. He’s a top tier athlete who is an elite rusher with an incredible arm and a lot to prove in terms of passing accuracy. He’s relatively inexperienced, so that accuracy could improve rapidly with NFL coaching. Or, like many young quarterbacks, his development could take a few years.
My opinion: Richardson is being drafted too high at an ADP of 85, but it’s likely the lowest his ADP will be for the rest of drafting season. And the upside is high enough that I don’t want to completely miss out on having Richardson in my player pool. He’s being drafted ahead of Dak Prescott, Daniel Jones, Tua Tagovailoa, Kirk Cousins, and Aaron Rodgers. I would prefer to have more shares of all of these quarterbacks than Richardson, partially because they’re known commodities, but also because I know that if any of these quarterbacks have great years, multiple of their pass catchers are likely to meet or exceed ADP expectations.
Even if Richardson reaches his ceiling, he may do so much of it with his legs that none of his pass catchers meet their expectations. As a result I will likely have less than an average share of not just Richardson, but also his pass catchers (Michael Pittman at 55 ADP, Alec Pierce at 144, Josh Downs at 168, all three tight ends 210-216).
My approach: take shots on Richardson as the draft room dictates, and accept that I will end up underweight to the field.
- If I’ve already drafted Michael Pittman–which generally only happens if Pittman falls to the late sixth round and I don’t love my other options–I am willing to reach to grab Richardson in the early seventh round.
- If my early stacking plans have fallen through and I don’t already have a quarterback, I am willing to take Richardson in the late seventh or early eighth round.
- If I already have a quarterback or stack set up but Richardson falls below pick 90, I am willing to take a shot–as long the opportunity to draft Richardson at 90 or lower remains rare.
It seems like a simple approach. But will I be able to resist when the Anthony Richardson hype reaches its apex this summer? Will you? Good luck out there!