Each week, TSN.ca Fantasy Editor Scott Cullen and NFL Editors Ben Fisher and Mitch Ward discuss three hot fantasy football topics.
1) What type of production do you expect out of Trent Richardson now that he's in the Colts offence?
Cullen: I wouldn't get carried away with expectations for Richardson because the Colts also have Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield. Richardson may have better opportunities to run in Indianapolis, with a better offence surrounding him, and that could lead to better than the 3.6 yards per carry he averaged in Cleveland last season, but I don't necessarily see Richardson with an increase on the 318 touches or 12 touchdowns he had as a rookie.
Ward: Richardson's stock certainly goes up with a move from Cleveland to Indianapolis but I still wouldn't expect elite RB1 production. On the positive side, Richardson should get substantially better blocking than he had been getting in Cleveland which means he should be able to do more with his touches and improve his sub-standard yards per carry. However, Richardson also has to share the Colts' backfield with the very capable, but injury prone, Ahmad Bradshaw. As long as Bradshaw stays healthy, he will command a decent share of the touches which limits Richardson's upside. Unless Bradshaw goes down for a significant stretch I don't see Richardson as anything more than a low-end RB1 or solid RB2.
Fisher: All the debate last week was who won the Richardson trade; is he really an elite running back? While he passes the eye test and was a top draft pick, his numbers suggest otherwise. While I'm still out on Richardson's value as a real running back in Indy, I really like him as a fantasy RB. Richardson was a Top 10 back last season and should see his 2013 numbers rise as he gets more opportunities to score playing in a far more potent offence. The only thing stopping me short of adding Richardson to the group of elite fantasy running backs is Ahmad Bradshaw. The injury-prone Bradshaw is a talented runner that will warrant his share of touches. But if Bradshaw's wonky foot starts acting up again, Richardson's opportunities – and numbers – should really take off.
2) Can anyone, regardless of position, catch Peyton Manning as the top fantasy points producer this year?
Cullen: Not if he keeps playing like this, but since Manning is not likely to throw more than 60 touchdowns passes (his current pace is 64), he's due to come back to the pack, at least a little, and other top quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees could still push Manning. I'd also keep the Philadelphia Eagles in mind. LeSean McCoy is off to a phenomenal start and, even though he struggled last week, Michael Vick still ranks second to Manning in fantasy points.
Ward: Absolutely. We're only three weeks into the season and a lot can change between now and Week 17. Manning is great, has a ton of weapons to work with in Denver and could easily stay on top for the whole season but it's just to early to tell. There are a few other pretty good quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers capable of going off on any given Sunday and closing the gap quickly. I'm not ready to hand Manning the title yet.
Fisher: No chance. The top five scorers each of the past two years in most formats have been quarterbacks, so that trend is likely to continue for this season. Maybe Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees catch him, but they're already 15-20 points behind and the Denver Broncos offence, with Manning at the helm, has looked virtually unstoppable through the first three weeks of the season. They don't get to play the Oakland Raiders every week, but it's hard to see Manning having a slow day against any defence right now.
3) Is it time to give up on New England Patriots RB Stevan Ridley?
Cullen: I wouldn't necessarily abandon all hope with Ridley, but he may be at the tipping point in the next week or two. Right now, he's maybe a Flex option as bye weeks start to affect fantasy rosters or he could even sit on your bench if you have more reliable runners -- which shouldn't be hard, he ranks outside the Top 50 running backs through the first three weeks. However, it's not as though there is one locked-down replacement who is going to bump Ridley from the Patriots backfield, so if he makes the most of his opportunities, Ridley could still pull back ahead of LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden to have some fantasy relevance.
Ward: If you bet on Ridley to have a big season and took him as your RB1 you're probably not off to a very good start. And while I wouldn't want to be relying on Ridley to bounce back and save my season, I won't completely write him off either. Despite the lack of production he is still the Patriots top back and will see the majority of snaps on early downs. The Patriots offence is also starting to come together and will be bolstered by the returns of Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola in the near future. As the passing game improves, more lanes should open up for Ridley in the run game as well. I see him as a decent RB2 for the rest of the season and wouldn't hesitate to grab him for pennies on the dollar in a trade.
Fisher: In short, yes. Ridley was actually lauded this week for his pass protection play last weekend but that means nothing in fantasy. What matters is that he now appears in a timeshare with LeGarrette Blount, who received three more carries than Ridley last week. And with Rob Gronkowski on the verge of a return, red zone opportunities will be even more limited for the RB. If you have room on your bench then Ridley is worth storing based on his strong 2012, but for now there are more intriguing options on the waiver wire that should see more carries.