The NFL rarely has any in-season trades worth discussing, so let's appreciate what the Colts and Browns did for us Wednesday. If the two teams swapped water bottles and tackling dummies, it's a news item. When a first-round fantasy pick gets shipped out of town, it's a stop-the-presses event.
The winless Browns apparently value future seasons more than the present one, as they shipped Trent Richardson to the Colts on Wednesday for a first-round draft pick in 2014. Let's examine what it likely means for both teams and the specific players impacted.
Colts Spin: Indianapolis clearly didn't want Ahmad Bradshaw to be a bell cow in the backfield, and now he doesn't have to be. Richardson figures to step in as the featured guy (even if it's not until Week 4), pushing Bradshaw to a secondary role and Donald Brown off our rosters. I don't see a major swing to Richardson's value - the Cleveland offensive line isn't that bad - but the Colts supporting cast as a whole will probably help him. Every Cleveland opponent was focused on Richardson from the opening snap. That won't be the case in Indianapolis.
[It's game time! ]
Richardson nonetheless is a tricky guy to evaluate from an efficiency standpoint. He leaves Cleveland with a mediocre 3.5 YPC for his brief career, covering 298 carries. The pro-Richardson crowd points to his college tape and scouting pedigree, and they'll also mention the low YPCs that LaDainian Tomlinson and Emmitt Smith posted early in their careers. Young players can improve, and sometimes a change of scenery will motivate a player.
But if Richardson doesn't break out, he wouldn't be the first big-name Alabama back to leave us wanting more. Consider Mark Ingram, stuck with a 3.8 YPC for his career on the pinball-friendly Saints. (Yes, Richardson's fantasy stats were excellent as a rookie, but that's a different argument from his yards-per-attempt.) And maybe there's a chance the Browns know something about Richardson that no one else does; they had him every day, after all, for a year and a half. (I know, many of you are shaking your head now. Hey, it's a theory.)
At the end of the day, I'll take Richardson up a shade for the environment, and I'll nudge Bradshaw down a few slots. Andrew Luck's value is probably a wash. And while we have you in Naptown, don't forget to check on tight end Coby Fleener - he's set for an extended role now that Dwayne Allen is out for the year.
Browns Spin: In the short term, Cleveland needs to figure out its backfield. The Browns are kicking the tires on free agent Willis McGahee; he turns 32 in a month, but he's still the most intriguing name we can pencil into a featured role here. Fullback Chris Ogbonnaya (a straight-line plodder who had a reasonable 73-334 rushing haul back in 2011) is the notable holdover, along with inexperienced scatback Bobby Rainey. If you're desperate for backfield help, I'd gamble on McGahee first, Ogbonnaya second and Rainey third. (And in most leagues with 12 owners or more, someone is desperate for backfield help. Week 2 was a brutal one for injuries.)
The passing game might be in trouble, as you likely knew already. Struggling starting quarterback Brandon Weeden is dealing with a thumb injury and won't play Week 3. Brian Hoyer, thought to be the No. 3 option, has jumped over Jason Campbell and will start Sunday at Minnesota. Sounds like a perfect time to stream the Vikings defense. Hoyer, a 27-year-old journeyman out of Michigan State, has thrown 96 passes as a pro, with mediocre results (59.4 percent completions, 6.4 YPA, two TDs, three picks, 72.2 rating). Good luck with this one, Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner.
Cleveland has wideout Josh Gordon returning from suspension and tight end Jordan Cameron has been excellent through two weeks. That's a nice starting point. Everyone likes left tackle Joe Thomas. But until the Browns find long-term solutions at other spots - especially quarterback - this looks like one of the NFL's worst offenses. Get ready to stream away, this week and in the near future (Minnesota, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Detroit, Green Bay, Kansas City). The Browns don't figure to score very often.