Anthony Richardson Rookie Expectations

You Should Fade Colts' Rookie QB Anthony Richardson

One of the biggest shocks of the 2023 NFL Draft was when the Indianapolis Colts selected QB Anthony Richardson with the fourth-overall pick.

The dual-threat behemoth of a QB has all the potential in the world, and the Colts took a shot on that upside. Even with the Colts naming Richardson their Week 1 starter, the rookie's college comparables show his first season in Indy could be a bit of a slog:

Richardson Stumbles In Preseason Debut

Let me make this abundantly clear: I'm not writing off Richardson's entire career based on one-quarter of preseason play. But, I already had my suspicions about his rookie-season potential (see the comps below) and his first few NFL passes did little to dissuade my thoughts. His yards per attempt dropped to 7.8 with Florida in 2022, his completion percentage sat way down at 53.8, and he threw 15 interceptions in just 22 college games.

Here's Richardson's full stat line from Week 1:

7/12, 67 passing yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 7 rushing yards

The concerns that Richardson could struggle passing down the field in the NFL (he averaged 5.58 yards per attempt on Saturday) and may have turnover problems (8% of his throws were intercepted) both flared up. Richardson had a chance to prove my worries wrong in Preseason Week 1, and he instead confirmed them.

The Comparables Aren't Great For Richardson

Richardson didn't light up the stat sheet or compete for NCAAF National Titles like C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. AR was drafted fourth overall by the Colts because of projectability.

Standing at six-foot-four, 245 pounds with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, he's got incredible potential to be the next dynamic dual-threat QB in the NFL. There are certainly shades of Cam Newton, Lamar Jackson, RGIII, and Justin Fields there. But, when you dive into production, it's pretty clear Richardson is a cut below those past and current two-way stars:

Breaking Down College/NFL Comparables For Richardson
PlayerNFL DebutNCAA Pass YdsNCAA Rush YardsNFL Pass YdsNFL Rush Yds
Lamar Jackson2018366016011201*695*
Justin Fields20212100*383*1870*420*

*Incomplete seasons due to injury, not immediately starting, etc.

Averaging the final college seasons from Richardson's top-three comparables, they threw for 3,351 yards (800 more than Richardson) and rushed for 894 (150 more than AR).

Despite that stellar college production from Jackson, Griffin III, and Fields, the trio averaged just 2090 PYards and 643 RYards in their rookie NFL campaigns. That's... uh... not great.

Richardson was an objectively worse college QB than these three comparables, and yet a look at his futures odds for his rookie season shows the books think he'll somehow be better? Sounds like a fade opportunity to me:

How To Bet Richardson's Rookie Season?

Welcome to the FRA's (Fading Richardson Anonymous) three-step guide to betting AR this season:

Step 1) Don't get enticed by his +550 odds to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Quarterbacks are on a bit of a heater in NFL Rookie of the Year history, winning six times since 2010. But, the only two-way QB to win the award since RGIII was Kyler Murray in 2019.

Murray passed for 3700 yards, ran for 500 more, and contributed to 24 total touchdowns in his rookie season. And even still, only received 53% of the OROY vote that year.

Unless Richardson wants to outperform what the books think he'll do by ~1000 yards, he'll be hard-pressed to win the Rookie of the Year this season. I'll be putting my cash on Bijan Robinson, instead.

Step 2) Take Richardson's passing yards UNDER:

OVER 2700.5 Passing Yards+120
UNDER 2700.5 Passing Yards-150

To reach his passing yard mark Richardson would have to stay healthy, keep the starting job, and have the most productive passing rookie season by a two-way QB since RGIII.

Richardson may have all the physical traits in the world, but he wasn't able to surpass 2600 passing yards in the SEC last season. Why should the world's best football league be any easier for him?

Step 3) Avoid Richardson's rushing yards line altogether:

OVER 650.5 Rushing Yards-160
UNDER 650.5 Rushing Yards+130

Initially, I was drawn to taking Richardson's rushing UNDER, too. But, the more I dove into this the more I think it's a well-placed line. Sometimes (actually often) the books get these futures lines bang on, and that's when we tip our caps and avoid the bet.

The rookie-season rushing average of Richardson's three most-recent comparables was almost exactly 650 yards. With the Colts' strong offensive line, I'd bet he lands around that mark — even if the passing falls way below.

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