NFL fans and fantasy football players around the nation were in shock last night when the news broke that the Cleveland Browns had agreed to trade running back Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for the Colts’ 2014 first round daft pick. Not only is it very rare to see a top five NFL draft pick get traded in only his second season, but Richardson was also a first round pick in many fantasy drafts this season, making the trade that much more intriguing.
I believe that this trade will ultimately benefit Richardson as he will move to a more proficient offense that should give him more big play opportunities. However, I am most interested to see how this trade affects someone else, that being former Pro Bowl running back Willis McGahee. Although McGahee has not officially signed with Cleveland just yet, it is widely believed that he will be their feature back this year. As of last night McGahee was in Cleveland taking a physical and once he passes the exam he will likely be signed on to join the Browns for the remainder of the year.
With Richardson off to Indy, the only other Browns running backs currently on their roster are Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey, which is why I believe McGahee is the back you want on your fantasy team (once he passes his physical). Despite being close to 32 years old and coming off of a leg injury, I still believe that McGahee has fantasy value. In his last full season (2011) McGahee ran for more than 1100 yards, and he was on his way to surpassing the 1000 yard mark once again last season before a season ending injury ten games into the season.
Despite only playing ten games, McGahee still managed to string together 731 rushing yards and four touchdowns. His season was highlighted by three games in which he rushed for at least 100 yards and scored at least one touchdown. Not only do I believe that McGahee has what it takes to be a productive runner, but he is also going to link up with one of his former coaches from his college days. The Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski served as the offensive coordinator for the University of Miami in the early 2000s, the same time in which McGahee was the Hurricanes’ starting running back. McGahee excelled under Chudzinski’s tutelage at Miami so I expect the two to have good chemistry working together once again.
Don’t get me wrong; McGahee most likely will not make or break your fantasy team this year, but given how shallow the field of running backs have been this year it is worth a shot to add him. I believe that McGahee can be a potential RB2 or flex play in most leagues depending on their format. My advice would be to roll the dice and take a chance with McGahee because the great thing about fantasy, or football in general for that matter, is that you never know what could happen. Let’s be honest; the Browns don’t have too many weapons on their offense right now, so who knows; maybe McGahee could just be the answer to both yours and the Browns running back problems this year.