One of the biggest in-season NFL trades in the recent memory occurred this week, as Trent Richardson was sent to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round pick. This will be a huge boost to the running back's stock but not quite yet.
Adam Schefter was the first to report the trade on Twitter:
Filed to ESPN: Browns RB Trent Richardson traded to Indy for Colts' first-round pick.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 18, 2013
Matt Maiocco of CSN also noted that the running back will play right away for the Colts:
Will Trent Richardson play Sunday against 49ers? Colts coach Chuck Pagano says, "We didn't bring him in to be the water boy?"— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) September 19, 2013
While this is encouraging for fantasy owners who want to keep him in the lineup, it is hard to imagine the young player excelling right away.
The first problem is that he will only have a couple of days to learn an entirely new offense. While it is usually easy for running backs to transition quickly, the biggest issue will be with blocking.
Indianapolis has struggled with pass-blocking this season, already allowing seven sacks in two games. The offensive line has a lot of room to improve, but the team will want to do whatever is necessary to protect its franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck.
Although Richardson is a relatively good blocker, the Colts are unlikely to risk putting him out there when he could miss an assignment and allow a free shot at Luck. Instead, veteran Ahmad Bradshaw should get the majority of the snaps in the upcoming game.
Additionally, it is difficult for anyone not named Marshawn Lynch to run against the San Francisco 49ers. The unit allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs last season, and that number should be similar by the end of 2013.
This makes it even less likely that Richardson puts together a memorable debut for the Colts. He might get around 10 carries and could sneak into the end zone, but there are better options for Week 3.
Unfortunately, the schedule remains relatively difficult in the coming weeks. Over the next month and a half, Indianapolis also faces the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans—three teams also very good at stopping the run.
However, that does not mean that fantasy owners should lose hope. Richardson is still a top talent, and that will be seen more than ever thanks to the recent trade.
With the Cleveland Browns, the running back only averaged 3.5 yards per carry in 17 games. However, he was hurt by a quarterback who consistently struggled to make anything happen, as noted by ESPN Stats & Info:
Brandon Weeden's 26.7 Total QBR Sunday was his 10th game lower than 30.0 since the start of last season, most in the NFL— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 16, 2013
As a result, defenses had no reason not to put eight or nine men in the box to stop the run. With the exception of Adrian Peterson, no one can be successful against this type of front.
This will change with the Colts, as defenses will be forced to respect the pass. Although the offensive line is not any better, the balance will help clear up space on the ground. This will allow Richardson to excel the way he did at Alabama.
Although the numbers might not look good at first, the running back is in a better situation in Indianapolis and will help your fantasy team immensely. Keep him despite some early struggles, or trade for him if someone is willing to sell low.
By the end of the year, you will be thrilled to have him on your roster.
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