Harsh reality of fantasy football, Week 3: Willis McGahee, Cleveland Browns represent

Jason Miller

You want the best, I give you the rest. Here are the worst starters in fantasy football for Week 3.

About 15 years ago, the Indianapolis Colts traded running back Marshall Faulk to the St. Louis Rams for a second- and a fifth-round draft pick. Faulk had played five years with the Colts, averaging 1,064 yards per season and 3.8 yards per carry and never really lived up to the hype of being the second overall pick. Not in Indianapolis at least.

Over the next three years with the Rams, Faulk averaged 2,255 yards from scrimmage per season and 5.4 yards per carry. He scored 59 touchdowns for one of the most prolific offenses in history, won a Super Bowl, lost a Super Bowl, and won two Pro Football Writers of America MVP trophies, plus an AP MVP trophy on his way to a Hall of Fame career.

On Wednesday, the Colts may have been trying to atone for trading away one of the greatest players of our generation, sending a first round pick to the Cleveland Browns for running back Trent Richardson. Is there any chance that Richardson could have a Hall of Fame-type career? Sure.

Richardson was the third overall pick just last season, and on a rather terrible Browns offense he totaled 950 yards and 51 catches in 15 games. This season, as the continued focal point of Cleveland's offense, he has 31 carries for 105 yards and seven catches in two games. Though he's still likely the most talented player on their offense, Richardson simply wasn't a fit for what Rob Chudzinski wanted to do, and so it was likely the best case scenario for both parties. After averaging 3.5 yards per carry through 17 career games, Richardson gets to go to an offense and play with Andrew Luck, Reggie Wayne, and T.Y. Hilton.

Or better yet, he gets to go to: Not-the-Browns.

In the absence of Vick Ballard, Richardson gets to take over as the lead back for a team that will find itself in the red zone a lot more often than Cleveland this year and his fantasy stock takes a significant shot in the arm this week. He probably still wouldn't crack my "Top 12" at the moment, but he could very well be on his way.

Not on their way? This weeks "Harsh Reality" bottom five fantasy starters for each position. This week, we're going to condense the receiver category from "Top 62" to any player that's considered to either be the number one receiver on his team, or a high-impact two or three receiver.

These aren't guys you'd be likely to be trading for.


32. Chad Henne, Jaguars at Seahawks

This could be historic. Opposing quarterbacks against Seattle (Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton) have thrown for 229 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. That's without Chris Clemons, who has practiced in full this week, and Brandon Browner, who could also be returning.

I noted on Field Gulls that the Seahawks currently hold the record for worst offensive performance in league history. Could Henne do them one better worse?

31. Brian Hoyer, Browns at Vikings

The Richardson news was so big that it basically overshadowed the fact that Hoyer was named the starting QB this week as the Browns travel to Minnesota. Hoyer has made one start in his entire career, a cold call at the end of last season to save the Arizona Cardinals from having to ever watch John Skelton or Ryan Lindley again.

After his performance last year in Chicago and getting benched in favor of Hoyer, why is Jason Campbell in the league, again?

30. Geno Smith, Jets versus Bills

It's the top two quarterbacks taken in this years draft facing off against each other! But it's not quite Andrew Luck versus Robert Griffin III, is it?

Smith reminds me a lot of Mark Sanchez; He's not very good and yet the Jets defense has kept him in games enough that he might be able to save a job he has no business having right now.

29. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers at Patriots

How many people have stopped to ask themselves if Greg Schiano is right? If you're focusing on Freeman's six-interception season, you're focusing on the wrong thing. He hasn't had a game where he posted a QB rating over 100 since November 11, 2012 and he's thrown 11 interceptions in his last five games.

He's also completing just 45% of his passes after two games and the Patriots defense, though it's faced EJ Manuel and Geno Smith, doesn't look bad.

28. EJ Manuel, Bills at Jets

New York's defense hasn't looked all that bad either. In fact, the AFC East in general has become this strange beast where all four teams look kinda even. But I like "EJ Manuel the story" a lot more than I like "EJ Manuel the fantasy quarterback."

They held Tom Brady in check last week, they should be able to do the same to the rookie making his road debut.

Terrelle Pryor just escaped this list, as the Raiders will possibly be throwing the ball quite a bit against the Broncos in Denver on Monday night when they're down by three scores.

Surpriser of the Week: Not only has Russell Wilson struggled to start the year, not only have the Jaguars allowed the second-fewest passing yards this season, but these are the types of games where Wilson simply doesn't pass it much. In the 58-0 game against Arizona last year, Wilson had 13 pass attempts and one touchdown.

I'm not saying that the Seahawks will win by 58 points, but I'm not not saying it.

Running backs

32. Chris Ogbannaya or Bobby Rainey or Willis McGahee, Browns at Vikings

If the Jaguars don't have the worst offensive performance of the week, it will probably because the Hoyer-Ogbannaya Browns also play on Sunday.

If Chudz didn't think that Richardson was a fit for the offense, he certainly didn't show it; Trent Richardson has 31 carries this year, Weeden has two, and nobody else on Cleveland has a single one. That's probably why the Browns signed McGahee on Wednesday, and that matters because?

31. Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson, Jaguars at Seahawks

Maurice Jones-Drew likely sits this week, as Jacksonville shouldn't rush him back during Seattle's bye week. The Seahawks run defense is suspect, but how many times will the Jags really run it this week? I suspect that Seattle will hold the ball for most of the game.

30. David Wilson, Giants at Panthers

New York has run the ball 31 times all season with their running backs, and gave seven carries to Brandon Jacobs last week. Wilson is averaging 2.6 yards per carry and Da'Rel Scott is at 2.5 yards per carry but the only thing to their benefit is that they've had so few carries.

Is that going to change at Carolina this week?

29. Jacquizz Rodgers, Falcons at Dolphins

I wouldn't get to excited about Rodgers extended playing time in the absence of Steven Jackson. He's averaging 1.2 yards per carry because that's not his forté. Atlanta might pass it on every single down.

Which is basically what they're already doing, having only 29 running back carries through two games.

28. Pierre Thomas or Mark Ingram, Saints versus Cardinals

Running games are suffering all over the NFL, it's so hard to pick just five. But the Cardinals thus far are allowing just 2.6 yards per carry, while the Saints three-way continues to benefit nobody. Well, I guess the team benefits, but who cares about that?!

Lamar Miller, Bilal Powell, Felix Jones are just a few names that didn't make the cut. Sorry, guys.

Surpriser of the Week: Trent Richardson will have been a Colt for five days when Indianapolis takes on the 49ers. It doesn't seem wise to start him in fantasy so soon. And again, the Colts have to prove they can establish the run first.

Wide receivers

32. Cecil Shorts, Jaguars at Seahawks

Richard Sherman has acknowledged that he respects all NFL receivers the same because they've all made it to the highest level. If Sherman treats Shorts as badly as he treated Anquan Boldin, Jacksonville could be going backwards on Sunday.

31. Josh Gordon, Browns at Vikings

"Welcome back to the NFL, Josh! Now your first assignment is to be the leader of an offense as the most talented player on a team that has scored 16 points this year and oh, meet your quarterback for the first time good luck!" is how I imagine Chudzinski talking to Josh Gordon on Sunday, getting all of that out in about two seconds as he runs away.

30. Sidney Rice, Seahawks versus Jaguars

Think I'm favoring Seattle too much with all this Jacksonville "trash talk"? Well, this might be the last week that I list Rice as a "number one" receiver. He has 48 yards through two games, caught only one of six targets last week, and doesn't have a favorable matchup. When Percy Harvin comes back, will that be good for Rice or bad? Or will it even matter by then?

I'd prefer Doug Baldwin or Golden Tate and maybe even Jermaine Kearse.

29. Rod Streater, Raiders at Broncos

Eli Manning may have been able to pick up chunks of yardage against Denver, but how can we expect Pryor to do the same? I said that Pryor escaped the bottom five QBs list because he'll be throwing a lot, but I probably expect him to scramble a lot and that the Broncos may focus on Streater and make Oakland beat them other ways.

28. Steve Johnson, Bills at Jets

If Manuel is to struggle, then Johnson is to struggle. I expect a low-scoring game and it's entirely possible that you won't see any offensive touchdowns.

That also means poor days for a guy like Stephen Hill. Also just missed: Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders against the Bears, Eddie Royal sans Malcom Floyd against the Titans.

Surpriser of the Week: The Pittsburgh Steelers may be 0-2, but their defense doesn't suck. The Steelers have allowed only one passing touchdown and held A.J. Green in check on Monday night. Next player to keep on their checklist? Brandon Marshall, and the Bears could struggle to move the ball in Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

Tight ends

It's been a tough week, and really a tough season for tight ends. Questionable this week are Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley, Martellus Bennett, Rob Housler, and Marcedes Lewis, for starters. Dwayne Allen has been lost for the year. When Gronk returns, the position group will get a major boost, but at the moment many teams are scrambling for elite options.

This season hasn't quite been like the last few, thanks to injuries and off-field issues. You want the best, here are the rest:

32. Zach Sudfeld, Patriots versus Buccaneers

Preseason super-sleeper Zach Sudfeld really has been a sleeper. So deep of a sleeper that he has zero catches, and Tom Brady has insisted instead on not throwing to tight ends until Gronkowski returns, which might be this weekend if we get a fun surprise.

More like Zach Sudafed, am I right?

(No, I definitely am not)

31. Coby Fleener, Colts at 49ers

I'm trying to highlight players that you might actually be thinking of starting. Fleener is a good option for rest of season, but against the Niners defense, he could run into some issues in the start of his first year as the lone tight end option.

30. Dallas Clark, Ravens versus Texans

Speaking of lone options after an injury, Baltimore signed Clark when Dennis Pitta got injured because they obviously didn't trust Ed Dickson. With Dickson currently sitting at one catch for 13 yards, that was a good plan. Clark isn't much better as far as fantasy goes, totaling 95 yards through two games, but he'll have a much more difficult time against the Texans defense.

29. Fred Davis/Jordan Reed, Redskins versus Lions

The word preseason was that Washington's tight end unit was deep and talented, and that may be true, but it hasn't shown at all yet. Reed leads the group with 56 yards and a touchdown. It may be spread too thin for fantasy football at the moment, no matter how good a matchup looks.

28. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings versus Browns

I was a little concerned entering the year about how much of Rudolph's value was tied to touchdowns. He has one of those this year, but only 69 yards. Cleveland might be a mess, but their defense is secretly pretty good.

Surpriser of the Week: Speaking of which, how is 2013 breakout Jordan Cameron going to respond to having Hoyer as his quarterback? It's not the best week to start him.

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