Injuries happen in the NFL. It’s pretty much inevitable. Between grueling practices and preseason games, the fantasy football owner of now has to keep their fingers crossed that high-ranking fantasy options can not only stay healthy during the regular season, but can stay upright throughout August. One such player who has made the news in the past week has been Browns RB Trent Richardson.
Richardson made headlines last week when he flew to see the now infamous Dr. James Andrews regarding soreness in his surgically-repaired knee. The news likely wouldn’t have made it so high up in the fantasy world if Richardson hadn’t already undergone a scope on the same knee back in February. Luckily for owners, the scope was a small procedure to remove a “hang nail particle” of loose cartilage that would have caused irritation and soreness during the season. The Browns insisted that he could have played through it, but erred on the side of caution and had Richardson undergo the procedure anyway, which was a success.
So with the Browns expecting Richardson back before Week One, what should owners be thinking regarding his fantasy outlook? Personally, I was never high on Richardson as an RB1. I’ve seen some rank him as high as a top-five option. Too rich for my blood. Do you really want a player who has never taken an NFL carry being your No. 1 stud? Not me. If Richardson was playing on a team that had a high-octane passing offense like the Patriots or Packers, or even the Eagles, then I wouldn’t worry as much. But Richardson is going to see a lot of stacked defenses this year. Especially if the Browns can’t get their passing game going with newly-anointed starter Brandon Weeden under center. And even if he does have success, what about the infamous “rookie wall?” We’ve seen rookies of all positions hit them. The rigors of the NFL eventually take their toll, especially on rookie running backs. The last thing I want is my top running back running on fumes come the fantasy playoffs.
As for where to rank him because of the knee? To be honest, I’m really not all that worried about that part of Richardson. Considering it was such a minor procedure, I wouldn’t push him down to, say, an RB3. That’s being a bit too dramatic. I know he is still going to be the workhorse, even if the team does slow him down a bit in the beginning of the season. With my feelings before the knee injury and after, I doubt I will move him up or down drastically in my cheat sheets. Even though I don’t view him as an RB1, snagging him as a high-end RB2 behind someone like Chris Johnson or LeSean McCoy makes him extremely valuable. Remember, there aren’t many running backs left who will touch the ball as much as Richardson will. The Browns offense might not look as good as others this year, but Richardson is still too valuable to overlook.
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