Trade Reaction: Trent Richardson

We witnessed a true rarity Wednesday evening, and if you haven’t heard already, the actionable move are likely already made by your league-mates. We’re talking, of course, about the Cleveland Browns sending second-year running back Trent Richardson to the Colts for a future first round pick. Richardson had struggled to get going this season, and apparently, was not quite a fit in the Browns’ new offensive scheme, as apparently, scoring touchdowns is simply not on the team’s agenda.

Still, we find it a bit ludicrous that a team struggling for playmakers on offense would trade away their most talented skill player. Beyond that, it’s tough to justify getting so little in return. You have to figure that the Colts’ first-rounder next year will be in the second half of the round and given that Richardson was the No. 3 overall selection just 17 months ago. Of course, the T-Rich selection is a sunk cost at this point, and one that has averaged a fairly mediocre 3.5 yards per carry in 17 career games. While it’s understandable that a team would avoid making future decision on past “mistakes,” it is a perplexing deal to say the least. But we’re not here to rip the Browns’ front-office, as most all of use have made trades in the past that look absolutely brutal on paper.

For the Colts, Richardson gets a clear boost simply due to the offense that surrounds him. There is little comparison between the quarterbacks running the respective offenses and with veteran Reggie Wayne and an emerging TY Hilton, the Colts have the look of a talented offensive unit built to put up points with Andrew Luck leading the way. The offensive line in Indy is nothing to write home about, but the overall unit is far superior. Still, in the short-term, Richardson’s value tumbles significantly. The Colts will face off with the stout 49ers defense in Week 3 and after a matchup with Jacksonville next weekend, they get the unenviable task of going up against the Seattle Seahawks. Given that the Browns were staring at one of the most attractive matchups for running backs in Week 3 versus the Vikings, this is certainly a modest cooler for T-Rich owners as they realize the daunting schedule ahead.

The backlash in Indianapolis will firmly hit Ahmad Bradshaw and his fantasy owners. Just after those who gambled on Bradshaw and his paper mache ankles prior to the season got a big break with Vick Ballard‘s injury, Bradshaw goes right back to a secondary role. It’s interesting because we do believe in Bradshaw’s talent and ability to be productive while on the field, but perhaps the front office was not comfortable banking on a fully healthy season… or perhaps they were just given an offer they could not refuse. Either way, Bradshaw slips from being a top-20 back to become little more than a flex play week-to-week. We would¬†consider bumping Bradshaw him up in the rankings initially as it will surely take Richardson a bit of time to get acclimated to his new offense but, as mentioned, the Colts take on the Niners this week.

Over in Cleveland, veteran Willis McGahee appears likely to officially join the squad in the next 24 hours. While previous reports have pegged McGahee as being in football shape while searching for a team during the first couple weeks of the season, it’s fair to expect a bit of an adjustment period as his surgically repaired knee is first tested in game action. McGahee will be faced with many of the same challenges as T-Rich as the upside is severely limited by a lousy offense and a whole mess of questions at quarterback.

Deeper down on the Browns roster we find Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey. The pair replaced former backups Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson after the latter pair suffered preseason injuries. We’v seen what Ogby has to offer in the past… and to be frank, it’s pretty Isaac Redman-like. Not much upside there.

Rainey is an interesting prospect and showed some flashes in the preseason. Still, after missing the entirety of the 2012 season on injured reserve, Rainey is yet to log a carry in an NFL game.

Opportunity is often King in fantasy football and while McGahee gets up to speed, both Ogbonnaya¬†and Rainey will have a chance to carve out a larger role in the offense. If forced to choose, we’re snagging Rainey this week, but to start any of the Browns backs is clearly a risky proposition.

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