Yesterday was a bit of a game changer for fantasy owners, as the Browns sent start running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round draft pick. The impact on Richardson is obvious, moving into one of the better offenses in the league with a quarterback who will take the pressure off of him. As for the Browns, things obviously aren’t quite as rosy:
The Running Backs:
The departure of Richardson is likely to lead to the addition of Willis McGahee, who will join Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey in the Browns’ backfield. Some people are pointing to Richardson’s 3.5 yard per carry average as a reason to be down on him, but it’s more indicative of the blocking in front of him than anything. It’s hard to imagine any of the three backs performing any better than Richardson. In fact, it’s quite likely that they perform significantly worse.
While McGahee did rush for 1,199 yards in 2011, that’s the only year in the past five that he’s been over 731 yards. He’ll turn 32-years old at the end of October and it’s hard to imagine that he has a lot left in the tank.
Ogbonnaya was a seventh round draft pick back in 2009 and has just 95 career carries for 420 yards. Even in college the most carries he had was 74, working better as a receiver out of the backfield (46 receptions in his final season). At this point we know what he is, and it’s nothing special from a fantasy perspective.
Rainey was impressive at Western Kentucky, rushing for 1,649 and 1,695 yards over his final two years, totaling 28 TD. He also has a threat out of the backfield, with 36 receptions for 361 yards and 4 TD in his final season. Listed at 5’8″, he is currently listed as the team’s starting running back (remember, McGahee is not yet officially on the team).
Rainey didn’t see time in 2012, while a member of the Ravens, and was added by the Browns via waivers after the preseason. He had 58 yards on 20 carries this preseason, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. While there could be potential there, it’s hard to bank on a breakout. That said, out of any of the three current candidates I would say he has the best chance to prove fantasy viable.
Brandon Weeden is banged up but, when healthy, there is suddenly a lot more pressure on him (if he even regains the starting job). No longer with the luxury of a potentially elite running back to steal the attention of opposing defenses, putting the focus squarely on his shoulders. He should get more opportunities to throw the football, so from a fantasy perspective there’s more potential upside, but don’t expect miracles. He shouldn’t be upgraded at all.
The Receivers/Tight Ends
More throws means more opportunities, so the value of Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon shouldn’t be impacted greatly. In fact,they easily could see increased looks, meaning their value could actually increase. While it could take a week or two for things to settle down, look towards them as solid options in all formats regardless of who is in the backfield.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 3 rankings: