Montario Hardesty: Trent Richardson's Status Doesn't Give RB Fantasy Value

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 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

Stay away from the Cleveland Browns' running game.

It doesn't matter which running back is in the backfield, Cleveland struggles to move the chains on the ground, and it's not all that focused on doing so to begin with.

The Plain Dealer reporter Mary Kay Cabot suggests that running back Trent Richardson's status for the coming weeks might be up in the air:

One option would be for coach Pat Shurmur to shut Richardson down for upcoming home games against San Diego and Baltimore, let him rest through the bye week and come back strong in Dallas Nov. 18.

Richardson clearly wasn't himself against the Colts on Sunday, running for eight yards on just eight carries. Whether he's suffering from a serious injury or not, the problems don't just rest with him in the Cleveland backfield.

If Richardson can't play that leaves Montario Hardesty as the next guy in line, but he hasn't done much either. With 22 carries, 84 yards and a touchdown on the season, fantasy owners shouldn't turn to Hardesty as a last-ditch option in the coming weeks. Even if you're a frustrated Richardson owner (as I am) don't look to Hardesty as a viable handcuff option either.

The Browns are rapidly becoming a pass-first team. Brandon Weeden has 272 passing attempts on the season, more than twice as many passes as Richardson and Hardesty have runs combined. With the team's best ball-carrier on the mend, don't expect that ratio to change anytime soon.

On top of that, look at Cleveland's upcoming schedule. The Browns play San Diego's No. 1 run defense on Sunday, then they play the Ravens. Despite Baltimore's defensive struggles this season, it will put its best foot forward against its division rival.

After that Cleveland has a bye, then plays two great defenses in Dallas and Pittsburgh. Things aren't going to get any better for the Browns, and the run game won't be looked to as a solution. That leaves fantasy football owners out in the cold when it comes to Richardson, Hardesty or whoever is getting the football.

Hardesty is a fine player, but he's a backup at best. Putting him in a pass-first offense marginalizes his value more than his talent already does, making him a non-factor in fantasy land.

Even if Richardson is on the mend, that isn't going to change.