Willis McGahee Does Not Merit Major Fantasy Consideration with Cleveland Browns

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 11:  Willis McGahee #23 of the Denver Broncos during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 11, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Trent Richardson's departure to the Indianapolis Colts caught everyone around the NFL off guard, but life must resume in Cleveland without its former starting running back.

Someone has to assume the touches for the Browns previously provided to Richardson. According to their official Twitter announcement, veteran Willis McGahee is expected to help fill the void.

The 31-year-old back (who will be 32 in October) defied the touch of death bestowed on rushers that turn 30 by averaging 4.4 yards per carry for the Denver Broncos last year. In 2011 he rushed for 1,199 yards on 249 attempts before they shifted to a passing team with Peyton Manning under center.

McGahee is nine years older than Richardson without the glitter of being expected by many to carry Cleveland's franchise as well as several fantasy clubs. Although Richardson did not last past the first rounds in many fantasy drafts, McGahee, despite not having a real team on fake draft day, actually demonstrated much more efficiency.

Any running back who receives touches is worth a look in most fantasy circles. Beggars can't be choosers, so it's worth grabbing McGahee if he's floating out there.

Just don't let your expectations spiral out of control. At best, McGahee delivers solid value as a flex play. 

The good news: Cleveland will hand the ball off often. Richardson received 267 carries last year, which ranked 11th in the NFL. He also caught 51 passes, but don't expect McGahee to replicate that as he has averaged 22 catches per season throughout his nine-year career.

The bad news? Brian Hoyer is the starting quarterback this week after Brandon Weeden's thumb injury, so McGahee or anyone else who gets touches will have no room to breathe.

Cleveland's barren offense is a far cry from playing with Manning in Denver, where defenses paid little attention to the back in fear of getting burned in the passing game.

Even Tim Tebow's rushing ability kept defenses somewhat honest from zooming in on the back. 

While he is a solid player who can step in and handle all the duties of a running back, it's hard to picture him averaging four yards per carry with opposing defenses stacking the box.

Upon hearing the news, The Fake ESPN (a joke Twitter account) wondered whether McGahee should call a certain fictional TV lawyer.

Let's just hope the veteran's fading stock or a failed physical does not cause Cleveland to send McGahee to Belize.

It also makes little sense for a team so clearly setting its sights to the future to award all the playing time to a temporary stop-gap option. If the Browns are cool with dumping Richardson, sitting Weeden and starting from scratch, why not give Bobby Rainey a shot?

Rainey has yet to carry the ball during a regular-season game, but this presents the perfect opportunity for him to see some action. For what it's worth, Pro Football Focus was impressed by the 25-year-old's preseason performance, particularly his cutting ability.

Rainey generating substantial fantasy value hinders the former Miami Hurricane standout obtaining a full workload and getting fortunate in red-zone situations. Unfortunately, McGahee's age doesn't support his workhorse candidacy, and Cleveland will not visit the end zone with regularity.

Go ahead and pick McGahee up, but do not anticipate him amounting to much more than a matchup play.