Star running back Trent Richardson is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts rather than the Cleveland Browns, which is going to send shockwaves across the fantasy football landscape.
In the real world the Colts become serious contenders and the Browns continue to look like they are playing for the 2014 draft. In terms of fantasy, a few interesting things will result from the trade of Richardson.
We’ll start with Cleveland—abandon ship. The franchise is clearly playing for next year. No fantasy players from the team should be owned in any league. Brandon Weeden is hurt, and even when he returns he will now be without a star running back to support him. Josh Gordon had potential, but defenses are going to have no issue ignoring the ground game completely and focusing on shutting down what remains of the passing offense.
Now for the positives. Trent Richardson is now an even more valuable commodity. In Cleveland he was the focal point of an unbalanced offense and his fantasy numbers were hurt as a result.
In Indianapolis, Richardson now takes part in a balanced offense and will see fewer in the box as defenses have to keep track of Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener.
Speaking of those guys, Wayne, Hilton and Fleener just became a bit more valuable in fantasy as well. The inverse of Richardson’s presence is true as well—his arrival means less predictability from the offense.
Perhaps the biggest benefactor outside of Richardson himself is Andrew Luck, who has yet to be supported by a quality running game. For the first time in his career, Luck will see big passing lanes open up, especially in an effective play-action game.
Like on the field, the implications are nothing but good news for Indianapolis players. Richardson will be more productive than ever, but it will also have a positive impact on the other offensive weapons suddenly freed up.