A bombshell exploded in the NFL on Wednesday when the Cleveland Browns traded RB Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round draft pick in 2014. The Colts signed gimpy Ahmad Bradshaw this past offseason but became desperate at running back once Vick Ballard went down with a season-ending knee injury last week. Richardson was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft and set the Browns franchise record for rushing yards by a rookie last year.
Trading players of this magnitude almost never happens in the NFL and is virtually unheard of in mid-season. When we think of the best running backs ever traded, we think of Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, Hershel Walker, and Clinton Portis. Richardson hasn't yet shown that he'll be an all-time great, but the Browns apparently weren't willing to wait around to find out.
Earlier in the day, the Browns announced that current starting quarterback, Brandon Weeden (another first round draft pick from 2012), is out of the lineup with a sprained thumb, and they've named the third-string QB Brian Hoyer as the starter instead of backup Jason Campbell. Many are speculating that the Browns want to see what they have in Hoyer and that Weeden has seen his last start as in Cleveland. This team has gone from bad to a full blown dumpster fire and should challenge Jacksonville for the first pick in the draft.
The trade will obviously have a negative impact on the fantasy value of Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron who will now see tighter coverage in the secondary instead of defenses geared to stopping Richardson. It's also bad news for Bradshaw owners who now have a backup running back instead of a starter. On the other hand, it's great news for Richardson as well as Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, and his receivers. Defenses will now have to pick their poison and focus on stopping either Richardson or Luck. The Colts face a tough matchup against the 49ers on Sunday afternoon, and it's not yet clear whether Richardson will see many touches in his new offense, but it's worth mentioning that Marshawn Lynch dropped 135 total yards and 3 TDs on San Francisco last week, so don't be too scared to start him if the Colts announce he'll be in the lineup.
Game of the Week: Kansas City @ Philadelphia
Thurs. Sept. 18 8:30 p.m.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid returns to Philadelphia on Thursday to take on Chip Kelly and his old Eagles team. Philly is the city that famously booed Santa Clause, so it will be interesting to see how they react to the coach who won 130 regular season games and 8 NFC East division titles in 14 years with the Eagles. Both teams are vastly improved over a year ago, when Reid got run out of town for leading the Eagles to a 4-12 season and the Chiefs were the worst team in the league. The Chiefs (2-0) added Alex Smith at quarterback and re-tooled their offensive line behind the 2013 first overall pick Eric Fisher but otherwise have a talented roster that sent five players (four defenders) to the Pro-Bowl last season. While everyone is now in love with Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense, it should be noted that the Eagles (1-1) played two of the worst defenses in the league so far this year and face their first real challenge of the season in the Chiefs. Furthermore, despite their success on offense, Philly has a terrible defense, so look for the Chiefs to try to control the clock and keep the high-powered Eagles offense off the field. Both teams should put up decent fantasy stats.
Start: Mike Vick PHI QB; LeSean McCoy PHI RB: DeSean Jackson PHI WR; Jamaal Charles KC RB; Dwayne Bowe KC WR
Sit: Riley Cooper PHI WR; Donnie Avery WR KC; Dexter McCluster WR KC