The Oakland Raiders will look quite a bit different in Week 8 of the NFL season. Trading away top wide receiver Amari Cooper is just one reason for that, as the team also placed running back Marshawn Lynch on injured reserve. Much of the talk around the Raiders at the position has been about Doug Martin, but he’s not the player I have my eye on in fantasy football.
The name who’s grabbed my attention is the electrifying Jalen Richard.
While Richard will almost undoubtedly see fewer carries than Martin, it’s his ability as a pass-catcher and the increase in carries which makes him such an appealing option. The 25-year-old back has totaled 31 catches for 253 yards through six games and will see an expanded workload beginning Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Let’s take a deeper dive into Richard’s matchup and the situation to decide whether the Raiders running back is a fantasy start or sit this week.
Key Stats and Jalen Richard’s Fantasy Outlook
I’ll break down the matchup along with a few numbers which jump out about Richard ahead of Sunday. All information on fantasy points and statistics for defense vs. position are from ESPN.
- Indianapolis Colts vs. running backs in 2018: 164 attempts, 669 rushing yards, 49 receptions, 384 receiving yards, four total touchdowns (No. 14 most fantasy points per game)
- Richard played 51 percent of the offensive snaps to Martin’s 11 percent in Week 5 and 40 percent vs. 10 percent in Week 6, per Football Outsiders
- Richard has the second-most targets on the team this season with 37, behind only Jared Cook (43)
- He’s caught at least six passes in four of six games this season
The Colts are tied for the second-most receptions allowed to opposing running backs this season. Based on the Raiders’ usage of Richard to this point, there’s no reason to believe his workload will decrease, even if Martin performs well on the ground. It seems more likely the opposite happens, and Richard picks up extra work if his backfield mate struggles.
Should You Start or Sit Jalen Richard?
Richard is about as solid of a filler in point-per-reception leagues as you’ll find this week and beyond. There’s also a legitimate chance he could wind up carving out enough work on the ground to move into RB2 range. How Jon Gruden and company choose to deploy their running backs will be worth monitoring, but Richard’s role as the pass-catching back is secure.
I’d be comfortable using Richard in all PPR leagues with 12 or more teams and if you’re incredibly thin at running back or need a flex play in a 10-team league, he’s fine to use there as well. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has shown he trusts the young running back, and it doesn’t hurt Richard has the potential to break a big play at any point.