The fantasy landscape was shocked yesterday by the trade of Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns to the Indianapolis Colts, mainly because trades of any kind are fairly rare in today’s NFL, let alone those that involve a potential “franchise” player like Richardson. As news of the trade broke yesterday, Twitter erupted with reaction to the trade, with many of the Browns players posting shocked responses showing that the team as a whole was shocked by the news. My personal favorite of the day came from injured Browns RB Dion Lewis who tweeted “This real or fake?”
As a longtime Browns fan, the trade was a sobering smack in the face, as the team’s new regime has clearly waived the white flag on the 2013 season after only two games. There was plenty of speculation floating around yesterday as to why the Browns would make this trade so early in the season. While I hate the trade as a fan who wants to see my team compete this year, from a business standpoint I get the desire to continue to stockpile draft picks heading into what is supposed to be a loaded 2014 draft. Forbes magazine even floated the idea that the trade could be related to the mounting legal problems of Browns owner Jimmy Haslem. Richardson’s contract with the Browns was a four-year, fully-guaranteed deal worth $20.5 million, with a $13.3 signing bonus. Whatever the reasons, Trent Richardson is an Indianapolis Colt today and fantasy players must now deal with the repercussions. Let’s take a look at the fantasy impact of the trade:
Trent Richardson – Richardson’s value receives a boost with the move to the Colts, but I don’t think it is as big as some might perceive. Yes he now plays on better team, with a real quarterback in Andrew Luck, and better skill players surrounding him. But I don’t think the trade really changes his value that much, other than perhaps putting him in a position to perhaps score more touchdowns on a consistent basis. While that is good news for T-Rich owners, he now also goes from being the absolute focus of an offense, to being a complementary piece to the Colts other weapons on offense.
Ahmad Bradshaw – Bradshaw is the biggest loser, as his fantasy value takes a major hit, just days after it looked like he was locked in as a low-end RB2. He will obviously take a back-seat to Richardson going forward and will have to hope that an injury occurs to get significant carries. He has been relegated to handcuff status, but since Richardson has battled injuries throughout his brief career, he’s worth holding onto since he will surely get some starts at some point this year. But don’t kid yourself; he’s more of a RB4/5 now. The best course of action could be to reach out to the Richardson owner in your league and see what you can get for his new handcuff.
Willis McGahee – Early reports have the Browns ready to sign FA Willis McGahee to become the new feature running back for the Browns. He is 32 years-old and is coming off a decent 2012 with the Broncos that was ending by a knee injury. Judging by my leagues who had waivers run late last night, McGahee was a popular adds and the guy most fantasy owners expect to land the job. Any starting running back is worth owning in fantasy, and I even grabbed McGahee myself in one of my leagues, but honestly his prospects for success are pretty meager on an offense that already had a huge vacuum at quarterback and a general lack of playmakers on the roster. He should be able to generate average rushing totals, with the occasional touchdown. Basically that makes him a Flex-play in deeper leagues and not much more than a bye-week or injury replacement player in standard leagues.
Bobby Rainey/Chris Ogbonnaya – Rainey and Ogbonnaya are the only backs on the team as of this writing. Regardless of whether the team signs McGahee or not, it looks like these two will split the carries this weekend against the Vikings. Rainey is an untested second-year pro who has yet to receive a carry in the pros. Ogbonnaya is a journeyman, who was playing fullback for the Browns this year. Ogbonnaya has had some success in the past, and can catch passes out of the backfield, so I think his value gets a boost even after McGahee takes over, as his touches will increase enough to maybe make him matter in deeper leagues that use PPR scoring. But, let’s be honest, the Browns backfield is an absolute mess now and if you can avoid the situation that may be the best course of action.
Donald Brown – The little value he had as Bradshaw’s handcuff has quickly evaporated. I’d drop him for either of the Browns listed above.
Jordan Cameron/Josh Gordon – The offense will continue to struggle, but if anything the loss of T-Rich can actually mean a slight value boost for both players. Cameron will become even more of a focus in the red-zone, if the team can find it this year. Gordon should get a lot of downfield looks as the Browns will be in comeback mode each and every week. As the deep-ball threat he should be able to hold onto solid WR3 value the rest of the way.
Mark Ingram – I haven’t seen any rumors surrounding the Saints running back, but perhaps the Browns could dangle one of their 4th or 5th round picks in next year’s draft to bring Ingram on board and see if a change of scenery can help salvage his career. It would be a deal that would make sense for both teams, as he isn’t ever going to be the answer for the Saints and the Browns front-office can at least pretend to be interested in competing this year.