Montario Hardesty: Browns RB's Performance in Relief Warrants Fantasy Pickup

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 14:  Running back Montario Hardesty #20 of the Cleveland Browns runs by defensive end Michael Johnson #93 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns running back Montario Hardesty has become a viable fantasy handcuff after rushing for 46 yards and a touchdown in a win over Cincinnati. He entered in relief for Trent Richardson, who went down in the third quarter of the Browns' victory with a “flank injury.”

Trent Richardson owners and running-back poachers: Hit the waiver wire for his backup.

For those who are not medical types, like myself, Richardson suffered a swelling of the abdomen. His status for Week 7 is uncertain.

His emergence in Richardson’s absence opens the door for a two-headed running game in Cleveland. Regardless of whether Richardson can go next week or not, Hardesty remains a solid fantasy pickup.

The Browns will want to keep their best asset, Richardson, upright and healthy enough for a 16-game campaign.

That’s where Hardesty will come in; he can spell Richardson when necessary, and as a result, steal some potential touchdowns from the rookie phenom.

Just like in Sunday’s win over Cincinnati, Hardesty will not be passive when his number is called. In Cleveland’s underrated rushing attack, the second-year back from Tennessee gives its offense fresh legs that can contribute.

If Richardson can’t go, even better news for Hardesty. Fantasy owners could have a fantasy gold mine on their hands: a waiver-wire pickup that turns into a bona fide starter.

As long as Cleveland doesn’t fall behind, it's going to want to run the ball and take the pressure off Brandon Weeden. In addition, now that the passing game is coming into form, that will take a few defenders out of the box for Hardesty to have some running lanes.

For the immediate future, acquiring Hardesty’s services could bring high dividends, as Richardson’s injury is unclear.

The Browns’ prized rookie has already gotten nicked up multiple times this season, so multiple starting gigs are not out of the question.

There are too many possibilities to not pick up Montario Hardesty. The Browns RB could be finally breaking out.