By now, everyone knows that the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts pulled off a major trade, sending Trent Richardson to Indy in exchange for a first round pick. While I love the move for the Colts, the fantasy production for Richardson figures to decline in the short term. I mentioned him as a buy-low candidate, and I stand by that, but are you really ready to call him a top-20 back this week?
Let me draw the comparison to the head waiter at a restaurant. Let’s say there is an exceptional waiter at a high-class eatery, but he/she is forced to relocate due to a sudden event within his/her family. The waiter will no doubt be able to find employment at the new location, but with just three days to learn the menu, atmosphere and quirks about the new restaurant, do you really want him/her waiting on the owner’s family?
Or would you prefer that a less talented but more experienced server handle the elite company?
Richardson is an elite waiter, and given enough time, he will succeed at a very high level at his new restaurant. But with the owner of one of the premier defenses in the league on the schedule this week (the San Francisco 49ers), he’s far from a great fantasy play this week.
That doesn’t even take into account that the Colts are a pass-first offense that invested in Ahmad Bradshaw three months ago. Remember how high head coach Chuck Pagano was on him? Expecting a heavy workload is a mistake, and Richardson being a surefire starter this week is far from a given. Here are some running backs I prefer in Week 3 that ESPN currently has projected for fewer fantasy points.
Joique Bell – With Reggie Bush battling a knee injury and the Washington Redskins apparently allergic to playing effective pass defense, the pass-catching goal line vulture should have an above-average workload and find his way to paydirt.
Rashard Mendenhall – The Arizona Cardinals are a pass-first offense, but with a banged up Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) and an elite offense on the other sideline, I expect Mendenhall to touch the ball 20-plus times for the first time this season.
Doug Martin – I get that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense has been bad, but he’s at least as talented as Richardson, has a better matchup, and has more than three days with the playbook.
Fred Jackson – The New York Jets may not be a great team, but they’ve been a great pass defense thus far. Jackson has received a surprising 44 percent of the touches in the Buffalo Bills‘ backfield, and he’s been the short yardage-third down option through two weeks.
Darren Sproles – The Cardinals defense has been an underachieving unit thus far (allowing opponents to complete nearly 69 percent of their passes for 286 yards) and the New Orleans Saints figure to attack that weakness. Sproles even has 15 carries through two weeks, a nice way to add a few points that hasn’t been there in the past.