Thursday, September 19, 2013

Breaking Down the Fantasy Implications of the Trent Richardson Trade

In a calculated move to build for their future, the Cleveland Browns agreed to trade their star running back, and #3 overall pick in the 2012 Draft, Trent Richardson, to the Indianapolis Colts for a future first round pick. The trade pretty much materialized out of thin air, and wasn't even discussed until the end of week 2’s games. The move shows that the Browns are dead set on entering another full-on rebuilding process, having now stockpiled 10 picks for the upcoming 2014 Draft (seven of which coming in the first four rounds). It also shows that the Colts are serious about making another push for the playoffs.

Now we know this trade is going to have big effect on the AFC standings, but how will it affect your fantasy team’s fate? The Weave investigates.  

Trent Richardson owners clearly emerge as the big winner from this deal. He joins an improved offense in desperate need of some new blood in the backfield. After a season-ending injury to Vick Ballard left them to chose between the over-the-hill Ahmad Bradshaw (7th season in the league) or the perennial backup, Donald Brown, as their go-to guy. The second year bruiser out of ‘Bama immediately becomes the franchise’s best back since the days of Edgerrin James, and should see upwards of 25 touches per game. Look for Richardson to form a good rapport with Andrew Luck, and capitalize on his newfound opportunity of going against defenses that aren’t putting eight men in the box to contain him.

With a career YPC of just 3.5 yards (making his 3.4 YPC in two games this year look more like a trend than an anomaly), Richardson still has a lot to prove before he can be considered one of the league’s premier backs. But getting out of Cleveland is a great start.

At this point in time the only Brown’s players worth owning in fantasy are tight end Jordan Cameron (14 rec, 203 rec yds so far in ’13) and wide receiver Josh Gordon. The latter of which is still an unproven commodity, and will be making his season debut this Sunday after being suspended for the first two games for testing positive for codeine.

Journeymen Chris Ogbonnaya and return man Bobby Rainey are the only backs that currently remain on the Brown’s depth chart, though veteran Willis McGahee is expected to be signed by week’s end. Regardless, this offense is not going to be pretty, especially with Brian Hoyer taking snaps under center. If and when McGahee signs, you can make the case that he is worth the roster spot for the sheer fact that he’ll get you 15-20 carries per game, but keep for your expectations realistic, and get excited for plenty of sub-70 yard performances.

The real fantasy winner that emerges from this trade is whatever defense is facing the Browns in a given week (first up- Minnesota!). Cleveland and Jacksonville are in full-on “Down for the Clown” mode (tank for Jadeveon Clowney), with Teddy Bridgewater serving as a nice consolation prize. It’s going to get a whole lot uglier for the Browns before it gets any better, so you might as well capitalize off the onslaught of ugliness that’s about to ensue. 

-fresh (@danye33)

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