Fantasy Football: Trent Richardson Trade Fallout

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To say that Cleveland Browns fans are long-suffering would be an understatement. Not only has the team not won a championship since 1964, but also the original team moved to Baltimore and has since won two Super Bowls.

Life in the Dawg Pound has not been easy since the second incarnation of the Browns began in 1999 and it won’t get any easier after Wednesday’s blockbuster trade sent star running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis.

The Browns essentially packing it in for another season will certainly leave Cleveland fans unhappy, but they’re used to their team letting them down by now.  The real question is, how will your fantasy football league be affected?

This trade will impact the performance of several key players in most leagues, so being prepared before this weekend will be essential. Fortunately I’m here to help.

The most obvious player who will likely see his fantasy value change is Richardson himself. The former Alabama star has played all but one game of his short career with Brandon Weeden throwing passes behind him and still managed to rush for 950 yards a year ago.

To put it simply, Richardson’s transition from Weeden (62.0 passer rating) to Andrew Luck (96.7 rating) probably makes the back happier than a camel on Wednesday. His fantasy owners should feel the same way. He will certainly have more lanes to run through as defenses won’t be able to key on the run as often.

Richardson’s new teammates and their fantasy owners should be happy to have him in town as well. Luck was able to throw for over 4800 yards and 26 touchdowns last season with his two leading rushers — Vick Ballard and Donald Brown — each averaging just 3.9 yards per carry.

Luck, already off to a good start with a 65.2 completion percentage so far in 2013, should see his fantasy value soar with Richardson as the new feature back. Similarly, with Richardson forcing teams to respect Indy’s run game, Luck’s favorite target, Reggie Wayne, will likely face more single coverage on the outside and see his touchdowns increase. I don’t recommend trading any of those three players right now; it would be selling low.

On the other side of the trade, the player whose fantasy value will be most affected is Willis McGahee. The back who rushed for 1200 yards in Denver just two seasons ago was a free agent as of Tuesday, but he now (almost) has a team after Cleveland tapped him as Richardson’s replacement.

McGahee darted for 731 yards in only 10 games last season and he averaged 4.4 yards per carry, so he certainly still has value as runner. He will be a popular waiver wire pickup if he passes his physical and officially signs with the Browns, as is expected. Right now, however, he is only in 0.4 percent of ESPN leagues, so he could be a viable backup or flex option if you move quickly.

The Richardson trade clearly has far-reaching affects in the fantasy world, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the Browns have begun yet another rebuilding project. Sorry Cleveland.

Dylan Sinn is a freelance contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSinn or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.

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