Wow. Just… wow.
I was out of the house, and the first time I pick up my phone, I see Twitter explode.
The Cleveland Browns offense is already a very suspect group, and now, they are almost laughable. The team traded Pro Bowl caliber running back Trent Richardson the the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a first round pick in 2014’s draft. The Colts, who just lost Vick Ballard for the season, were originally expected to go out and sign a veteran back to fill the void. Instead, they make a blockbuster deal and acquire a stud in Richardson.
I rushed home to provide my fantasy spin of the deal. So, yeah, you’re welcome, I guess.
This is a tremendous move for Richardson, who was already an RB1 in fantasy leagues. Under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, the Colts still want to run the ball more, and with a guy like Richardson in the backfield, they’ll do just that. While some may see Richardson’s dismal 3.5 yards per carry this year and scoff, keep in mind that he was the focal point of that offense. Heck, he was the offense. Playing alongside a star like Andrew Luck on a team that is dangerous through the air, opposing defenses won’t be able to stack the box like they would do against the Browns. He’ll have more touchdown potential on a high-powered offense that can actually move the ball down the field, though he still scored 12 total times in his rookie year. Richardson did what he could in Cleveland, and despite his early struggles this year, he still has forced 14 defenders to miss tackles on 31 of his carries, according to Pro Football Focus. He won’t have to carry such a load in a Colts offense led by Luck and the passing attack. With Luck, Reggie Wayne and Richardson, we may be looking at a modern day version of the 2003 Colts. Of course, Ahmad Bradshaw is the big loser in this scenario, as he will likely be a third-down back and will only see about 10 touches per game. However, he is a much better pass blocker than Richardson, so he will still be on the field. However, for fantasy purposes, he is useless will T-Rich is in the mix.
Yikes. As for the running back position, the Browns have reportedly targeted veteran free agent Willis McGahee to come in and attempt to fill the void. My bet is he joins the team and eventually becomes their starting back. If you are in need of some running back depth, go get him now. For the time being, however, guys like Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey will get their touches as well, but neither provide any upside. As for the passing game, I think guys like Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon take a slight hit. I mean, first of all, the team currently has Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback, which is bad enough. But now, Richardson’s absence allows opposing defenses to focus on the only two serviceable offensive players on the roster. They are still very much worth starts each week, but I’d begin to temper expectations a bit.
The Colts face the vaunted 49ers defense in Week 3, so even if Richardson is ready to go for his new team, I wouldn’t expect much. They will have to work him into the system and everything, and besides, the matchup is terrible.
Man, is the NFL fun or what?
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.