After running back Trent Richardson was shockingly dealt, many in the fantasy land didn’t expect any fantasy relevance out of the Cleveland Browns running back position.
It’s still early, but perhaps there is a pulse.
Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya is more of an H-back. A guy who has some versatility to his game, in the mold of a guy like Charles Clay from Miami. And with the signing of veteran Willis McGahee, many assumed he would be the top back in Cleveland for the rest of the way. However, Ogbonnaya has been the one benefiting from the departure of Richardson, and has quietly been making some noise in fantasy football leagues. In the four games since Richardson was traded, Ogbonnaya has hauled in 17 balls for two touchdowns, making for a viable option in PPR formats. He won’t give you much on the ground, as he’s only carried the ball 12 times on the year, but he does have 20 catches thus far. On the year, he’s seen a healthy 30 targets, and considering that the Browns have transitioned into a pass-heavy football club, this bodes well for Ogbonnaya’s fantasy prospects.
According to TeamRankings.com, Cleveland currently ranks third in passing attempts per game with 42.3. Quarterback Brandon Weeden has been airing the ball out quite a bit, and Ogbonnaya has been a beneficiary. The running back has been targeted on just over 10 percent of passing plays this season, and has completely spelled McGahee on third and passing downs. The snap count is also in favor of Ogbonnaya. Per fantasydata.com, Ogbonnaya is seeing a healthy 47.3 snaps per contest, compared to McGahee’s 29. Also, when the Browns get into the red zone, they prefer to pass, throwing the ball 57 percent of that time. If that trend continues, Ogbonnaya will likely be on the field over McGahee.
So, with all of this information in mind, does Ogbonnaya make for a viable flex option in your fantasy lineups this week?
It’s quite possible. The matchup against the Packers doesn’t bode well for him on the ground, but that’s not why you would consider playing him. You are chasing his upside and volume in the passing game, and assuming the Packers are ahead for the majority of the game, Cleveland will be throwing the ball quite a bit. With Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Darren McFadden on a bye, Ogbonnaya could be a strong candidate to replace them for Week 7. He is only owned in 12 percent of Yahoo! leagues, so he is pretty widely available.
Considering the state of the running back position, Ogbonnaya could be a guy that can help your roster in the coming weeks. Don’t forget about him.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.