Paul Richardson Is an Appealing Late-Round Target in Fantasy Football

Going super late in drafts, Richardson offers decent upside and should play a meaningful role for Washington.

In March, Paul Richardson crossed the country to sign a contract with Washington. Per Spotrac, Richardson inked a five-year deal worth $40 million, with $16.5 million guaranteed.

With the exits of Kirk Cousins and Terrelle Pryor along with the additions of Richardson, Alex Smith, and Derrius Guice, there's reason to question the offensive direction of the team as Washington could take a step back as a passing attack.

But based on multiple factors, including average draft position, contract values, and career efficiencies, Richardson is a player you should be stashing on your bench as a late-round option with sneaky-good potential.

Following the Money

Contract values aren't always indicative of a team's plans for usage, but the discrepancy between the yearly salary of Richardson when compared to teammates Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson is noticeable. Of course, this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison because Crowder and Doctson are on their rookie deals, but it does tell us that Washington values Richardson pretty highly.

Player Contract Term Contract Value Average Salary Guaranteed Expires
Paul Richardson 5 years $40,000,000 $8,000,000 $16,500,000 2023
Josh Doctson 4 years $10,049,642 $2,512,411 $10,049,642 2021
Jamison Crowder 4 years $2,825,624 $706,406 $545,624 2019

Richardson's $8 million yearly average ranks 23rd in the NFL among receivers. Three other receivers average $8 million per year -- Marvin Jones, Kenny Stills, and Albert Wilson. Of that group, Jones stands out as the clear best-case scenario for potential usage for Richardson, but each of the three appear poised for a decent amount of targets in 2018.

By comparison, a year ago Washington signed the aforementioned Terrelle Pryor to only a one-year contract worth $6 million. So the multi-year deal for P-Rich paired with the guaranteed coin and yearly average indicate Washington is intending to use Richardson in a meaningful way.

Average Draft Position

Despite outscoring Doctson by more than 30 PPR points and finishing as the WR39 last season, Richardson is being drafted last among Washington's receiver trio in 12-team PPR formats, according to Fantasy Football Calculator. In fact, only Crowder is being taken before the late, late rounds.

At his current ADP, Richardson is being drafted as the WR63. It's kind of puzzling, to be honest. Richardson produced as a high-end PPR WR4 in 2017 and was the WR35 in standard formats. There's obviously some concern in the fantasy community about his landing spot with Washington, and there may be some fear over his role.

Most noticeable from the ADP data is that, on average, he's being drafted nearly a full round later than Doctson. While neither has been true number-one receiver for an NFL team, Doctson has yet to do anything to make us feel great about him thriving in that role as he caught just 35 of 78 targets last year for 502 yards and 6 scores.

Crowder doesn't fit the bill of a typical NFL number-one wideout, but that's likely the role he'll fill in Washington in 2018. But with Crowder, his expected volume is baked into his cost. Unless Jordan Reed and Chris Thompson hog a ton of the non-Crowder targets, it seems likely that one of Doctson or Richardson is being undervalued right now.

Receiver Efficiency

Efficiency, in general, isn't the most stable metric year-over-year, but when you add data points by extending the look over multiple seasons, it provides more reliable insight into a player's capabilities. And when comparing the three receivers at the top of Washington's depth chart, there's separation between them in converting targets into meaningful fantasy production.

Career Stats Targets Catch Rate Yards Per Target Yards Per Catch PPR Points Per Target
Jamison Crowder 280 69% 8.0 11.7 1.76
Paul Richardson 161 59% 8.1 13.7 1.70
Josh Doctson 84 44% 6.8 15.4 1.53

From a fantasy perspective, as we just touched on, Crowder is the best option on a per-target basis and a raw points perspective, but it's also reflected in his ADP.

At a draft position more than six rounds earlier than Richardson, Crowder scores 0.06 more PPR points per target. Whereas Doctson, who is available in the same draft range as Richardson, is outperformed by both Richardson and Crowder in most efficiency areas outside of yards per grab.

Washington invested a first-round pick in Docston, and this could be something of a make-or-break campaign for him in the nation's capital. But the team also has a lot invested in Richardson, so it's going to be an interesting depth chart battle between the two of them to see who will be the top force on the outside (with Crowder holding down the slot).

Fit in Washington

In his seven seasons as an offensive coordinator or head coach, the second receiver for Jay Gruden has averaged a 15.66 percent target share. Richardson's contract may indicate that he's the favorite to takeover this role, but if he fails to surpass Doctson on the depth chart, his target share will likely be closer to 11.61 percent, which is the average for Gruden's third wideout.

As you can see above, there really hasn't been a big difference in the target share for Washington's number-two and number-three wideouts in the last two seasons.

Our projections reflect this, and we expect things to play out similarly in 2018. We peg Richardson for 41 catches, 602 yards and 2.8 scores, which makes him our WR55. For Doctson, we see him putting up 34 grabs, 509 yards and 3.3 touchdowns, checking in at WR64.

So we have Richardson being Washington's number-two receiver, but not by much. However, if Richardson runs away with the role and ends up with a share closer to around 19 percent, a clip that Gruden's second receiver has eclipsed twice in recent seasons (2011 and 2014), it would better position Richardson to be a WR3 in fantasy.

Richardson's new opportunity and subsequent question marks have turned him into a late-round dart throw who offers a decent ceiling. As the third-most targeted pass-game weapon in Seattle, Richardson finished with six top-36 PPR weeks in 2017, including three WR2 (top 24) weeks.

There's upside here, and at a draft position of WR63, he can be had for almost nothing and is well worth a roll of the dice in the final rounds.