With the shocking NFL trade that sent coveted fantasy running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns to the Indianapolis Colts opening a lot of touches in Cleveland, it's wise for fantasy owners to figure out who will pick up the slack.
The Colts made this move official on their team website after ESPN's Adam Schefter initially reported the news:
Filed to ESPN: Browns RB Trent Richardson traded to Indy for Colts' first-round pick.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 18, 2013
The Browns selected T-Rich as the third overall selection in the 2012 draft, and he's been a featured part of the Browns' offense since arriving.
In fact, Richardson is the only running back with a carry for the Browns this season.
With just 105 rushing yards and no touchdowns on 31 carries this year, Richardson wasn't exactly blowing up fantasy production in Cleveland. These early numbers are below what most fantasy owners expected, and by all appearances the Browns look to be headed toward another dismal season.
That said, the No. 1 back on this team is going to have at least some fantasy value. Now, it's just a matter of determining who that back will be.
The first step in that process is to put this into consideration:
Browns will be signing free agent RB Willis McGahee if he passes a physical.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) September 18, 2013
Willis McGahee, 31, has been waiting for a call from an NFL team this season. The two-time Pro Bowler spent the last two years with the Denver Broncos, and just two years ago, he rushed for 1,199 yards.
Who will be more productive in Cleveland?
Last season, he rushed for 731 yards and did so in just 10 games.
While this is an intriguing option for fantasy owners, I would make a move for Bobby Rainey first.
More on Rainey in a second, but is concerning about McGahee is his lack of conditioning. It is hard to envision him being ready for a full workload right off the bat, and at 31, there is certainly no guarantee his body will remain healthy long enough for him to get into game shape.
So, let's set the cross-hairs on Rainey.
Bobby Rainey must have really impressed the Browns. Grab him in fantasy leagues now!— Kris Jones (@RavenManiac) September 18, 2013
The Browns acquired Rainey off waivers from the Baltimore Ravens a couple of weeks ago.
Let me be clear: Picking up Rainey is a gamble. The 25-year-old has yet to record a carry in an NFL game.
However, while playing for Western Kentucky, he rushed for over 3,300 yards his last two seasons, so the compact 212-pound back has proven he can handle a workload.
He also had 65 catches over those two years, and that will fit in nicely with Cleveland, as the Browns have been anxious to get their backs more involved in the passing game.
It's going to be a gamble adding any Browns back right now. There is too much uncertainty to say otherwise. However, I like Rainey's chances of being a bigger contributor off the bat and for the long term.