Rocket Reflex: Raiders Richard Carves Role

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Oakland Raiders RB Jalen Richard

During Jalen Richard’s first three seasons, Raiders fans watched as he adjusted from a running back to a pass catching back. Richard’s rushing numbers dropped while his receiving numbers skyrocketed. In his third season, Richard recorded 607 receiving yards and appeared primed for even more impressive numbers.

Cloudy Stats

Now, Richard’s outlook has been muddied with DeAndre Washington receiving considerations to enter the Raiders’ running back committee. It has been very interesting watching Richard and Washington, as they are very similar players. Both are listed as 5’8”; and have a 40-yard dash time separated by a tenth of a second. However, at the combine Washington did produce 11 more bench press reps than Richard.

Role

With Richard dominating the RB2 spot in Jon Gruden’s first year, many expected Washington and the Raiders to go their separate ways in the offseason. In the 2018 season, Richard recorded 68 receptions. Now, Richard is on pace for 28 receptions in the 2019 season. Washington is also not dominating and is on pace for 24 receptions. 

Issue

It seems very unreasonable to keep both players while neither has had struggles with fumbles or drops, especially when a departure could open a spot on the roster for a backup linebacker or defensive back, which the team appears to need. 

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Advantages

Richard has had more history with Gruden and should be spared if the time ever arises to cut one. The fourth-year player out of Southern Mississippi has been a reliable target for Derek Carr in tough situations. Washington sees usage in more relaxed situations, while Richard may come in during crunch time. 

Looking Ahead

It is clear that neither will reach their peak performance (or be viable fantasy options) as long as the snaps continue to be shared. Perhaps allowing Jacobs to reach his peak is more of the focus. 

It is strange how teams with RB1s that may struggle catching passes will potentially carry three running backs for pass catching duties. Yet, Jacobs is typically a reliable receiver. However, Jacobs has the makings of a franchise running back. As a result, the Raiders should keep him on a snap count, in order to increase his longevity. 

The preseason outlook for Richard appeared in the clouds as many, including myself, believed 2019 to be his breakout year in which Richard established himself amongst the league’s most talented pass-catching backs. 

With those plans put on hold, it is still good to see Richard excelling. Just because Richard may not make a blip on the fantasy radar, he has still come through when the Raiders have needed him.

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