Trade shuffles up fantasy football running backs

Fantasy owners were woken up in a proverbially violent fashion this week when news broke that running back Trent Richardson was dealt to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round draft pick.

It’s great news for owners of the third-overall pick of the 2012 draft, and even better news for teams that were becoming desperate for depth at the position.

Chris Ogbanaya should be taking over the role for the foreseeable future, though Cleveland signed Willis McGahee Thursday evening.

McGahee, who turns 32 in October, was released by the Broncos earlier this year and doesn’t seem to have much life left in his legs. Either way, it’s pretty safe to say that Ogbanaya is the top back for the time being.

Richardson took 18 carries for 58 yards and caught five passes for 21 yards. Ogbanaya has little value in standard leagues, but may be worth a roster spot in PPR leagues. He had two receptions for 24 yards last week.

Many other teams have backfields in varying degrees of flux.

The New York Jets have gone with Bilal Powell as the lead back in a committee for the first two games, but Chris Ivory has outperformed Powell.

Ivory has always been a strong runner and will get a shot at a very weak Buffalo defensive front this week. If there was any matchup for him to flash, it’s this one. While I won’t suggest an owner start him, I would suggest combing waivers for him.

Felix Jones is another in a similar situation. The Pittsburgh backfield is really a mess right now, but it might be fair to say that the whole team is.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones insists that Jones was not a bust, and the former first-round pick showed flashes last season. The real question is how effective he can be with such an impotent Steelers offense.

Joique Bell is another back who may still be unclaimed in shallow leagues. Grab him. While Reggie Bush was cleared to return yesterday but declined to re-enter the game, his structural tests all came back clear.

Even if Bush is healthy, Bell has some value, certainly enough for a flex spot. Jacquizz Rodgers also may get a boost since Steven Jackson is slated to miss three to four weeks with a thigh injury.

But Jason Snelling had a better day than Rodgers and may be the better play. Either one probably won’t yield a great return without a score or two.

It’s hard to suggest to anybody that they should grab a 49ers running back even though the team runs a lot. Frank Gore has seen a decline in attempts with Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Anthony Dixon on the roster, but Gore has seemed more and more fragile at times.

Gore has escaped injury the past two seasons, but he can only dodge those bullets for so long. Many forgot about Hunter following an achilles tear last season, but he showed some prowess during the Sunday night game at Seattle.

Hunter is worth a pickup, even if he just sits on the bench. Gore’s lucky streak may be coming to an end very soon.

While C.J. Spiller was drafted in the first round in nearly all leagues, he was atop my fantasy bust list. Fred Jackson is really an old man by plain football terms at age 32, but that’s dinosaur numbers at the RB position.

Nonetheless, Jackson might be another candidate worth an add in case Spiller either misses a week from injury, or just does not perform.

Lamar Miller — who appeared to be the clear lead back in the Miami offense — has not proven himself yet. He had a nice 4.9 yards per carry against the Indianapolis Colts, but faces a much tougher test at Atlanta in Week 3.

If Miller starts to slide down the depth chart, Daniel Thomas would be the next man up. I don’t expect such a thing to happen immediately, but it’s important to remember.

Some owners got extremely lucky — or unlucky, depending on your roster — when Baltimore’s stud back Ray Rice left the game with what was described as a serious hip injury.

While there is no new information available from team doctors, Pierce looks like the lead back heading into week three, but also face a fierce Texans defense. In Rice’s stead, fullback Vonta Leach may be the surprise horse in the Ravens run game.

Keep an eye out for developments on Rice and Jackson, as well as how the Bills front office feels about Spiller moving forward.


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