Fantasy Reaction: Trent Richardson traded to the Colts

Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus takes a look at the Trent Richardson trade, and how it effects his fantasy value as well as other Colts and Browns.

| 4 years ago

Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus takes a look at the Trent Richardson trade, and how it effects his fantasy value as well as other Colts and Browns.

Fantasy Reaction: Trent Richardson traded to the Colts

Trent-RichardsonOnce the regular season begins, there are often a few trades, but typically nothing like what we’ve seen today. Trent Richardson has been traded from the Browns to the Colts for a first round pick in the 2014 draft. It is a move that clearly shows that Indianapolis wants to win now while Cleveland is preparing for the future. Of course, this has a big impact on the fantasy value for all of the players Indianapolis and Cleveland.

What this means for Trent Richardson

In Cleveland, Richardson was a talented back that was held back by the players around him. In 2012 he averaged 3.6 yards per carry and that was down to 3.4 early in 2013. On the plus side, he’s forced 14 missed tackles on him, which is tied for the best in the league so far.

One of Richardson’s biggest problems has been facing eight defensive players in the box too often. By defining players in the box as all defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties within eight yards of the line of scrimmage, Richardson faced eight or more men on the box on 52.6 percent of his carries. On those carries, he averaged just 3.2 yards per carry. When it was seven or fewer in the box, that was up to 3.9 yards per carry. With Andrew Luck at quarterback, teams can’t put eight in the box to stop Richardson as often as they used to.

In Indianapolis, the Colts have used 11 personnel (aka three receiver sets) on 46.2 percent of their offensive plays. This should only go up with Dwayne Allen landing on injured reserve. Teams typically respond to three receiver sets with a nickel defense (only six men in the box). Richardson has had 42 carries in those situations, and has averaged 4.8 yards per carry.

In Indianapolis he should get a similar number of opportunities. He will be used as a feature back, but will get taken out in some passing situations. Richardson has allowed five pressures this year which is the most for all running backs. Ahmad Bradshaw, meanwhile, is one of the best pass blocking backs in the league. This will prevent Richardson playing 80 percent or more of the teams snaps, but he will still get most of the carries.

This all equates to a rise in Richardson’s short term and long term value. He should have roughly equal number of touches, but gain more yards and also be in more opportunities to score touchdowns. If you have him, hold onto him. If you don’t, it would be worth looking into trading for him.

What this means for those in Cleveland

The only backs currently in Cleveland are Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey. Neither player has had a rushing attempt in 2013. In 2012, Ogbonnaya was limited to eight carries and never had a run longer than nine yards. If only those two are on the roster, Ogbonnaya would be the main back with Bobby Rainey taking some carries away here and there.

Rainey is someone worth keeping an eye on, as he was a PFF favorite in the preseason. As a Raven, Rainey had eight players miss tackles on him on his 23 carries, and his PFF Run Rating was in the top five in the league.

Tomorrow Willis McGahee is being brought in, and if he is signed,  he would be the feature back in Cleveland. He last played with the Broncos early on in 2012. McGahee showed sparks in some games, but against good defenses, McGahee struggled. Like Richardson, McGahee rarely broke a long run. Unlike Richardson, McGahee also rarely makes the defense miss.

Over two games, Richardson was the 26th best running back in PPR leagues. That is around where a RB could be if he becomes an every down back. If someone doesn’t emerge as an every down player, then the backs will have little value.

As for everyone else in Cleveland —  like Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron — this only hurts their value. Defenses focused their attention first and foremost on Richardson, and going forward, they can focus more on the receivers.

What this means for those in Indianapolis

Obviously, with Richardson in Indianapolis, the value for other backs have plummeted. There is no need to keep Ahmad Bradshaw or Donald Brown on your roster except for as a handcuff. This should also help the other skill players of the Colts, as the defense will need to focus more on the run game than they used to, allowing their life to be easier.

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • Mike

    What does this mean for TRich THIS week?

  • Cliff Baconcock

    Your previous work had a much lower percentage of runs where Richardson faced eight in the box (17.98%): Have you changed the definition of “eight in the box”? If so, can you give an idea of the league average with the new definition?

    • Darrell Robinson

      I just noticed this as well. Hell of a difference between these two percentages.