Willis McGahee vs. Bobby Rainey: Fantasy Outlook After Chris Ogbonnaya’s Injury

A crowded Cleveland Browns backfield may now have one less competitor for playing time.

Running back Chris Ogbonnaya left Thursday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills during the second quarter. The Browns’ team Twitter page said he suffered a head injury after taking a hard hit from rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso.

#Browns RB Chris Ogbonnaya is being evaluated for a head injury & is out. QB Brian Hoyer has a rt. knee injury and will not return

— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 4, 2013

If the ailment turns out to be a concussion, Ogbonnaya will likely miss at least a game or two. Now the league is aware of damage caused by head trauma, teams must play it safe and display caution.

This clears the way for Willis McGahee and Bobby Rainey, neither of whom has impressed much since Cleveland sent Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts.

While Ogbonnaya did little to ignite the rushing attack, he caught nine passes for 51 yards and a touchdown in two games without Richardson. That transformed him into an especially appealing waiver-wire option for owners in point-per-reception fantasy football leagues.

He also converted his seven carries into 50 yards, so more touches would have come his way had he remained healthy. In his absence, McGahee and Rainey will vie for playing time. Last night’s ledger shows McGahee has the upper hand, while simultaneously proving he shouldn’t.

From a strictly fantasy scoring standpoint, McGahee did his job. He compiled 72 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland’s 37-24 victory. What more do you want from him?

In terms of efficiency, it was yuck. The veteran needed 26 carries, including a look on the Bills’ one-yard line on his score, to attain those results.

It was a matter of right place, right time for a rusher who looks over the hill.

McGahee is no longer armed with any breakaway speed—or, for that matter, the ability to cut to the edge for a 12-yard gain. Bleacher Report’s Michael Schottey was less than impressed with McGahee’s outside running burst.

Dear Willis McGahee, the corner store has been closed for you for a few years now…stop trying to go there

— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) October 4, 2013

Nevertheless, he’s Cleveland’s guy for now. Rainey has received 12 carries since Richardson’s departure, engineering just 34 yards. His longest gain amounted to seven yards.

The 25-year-old out of Western Kentucky has not received much of a chance to stamp his print on Cleveland’s offense. At 5’9″, Rainey is built in the Maurice Jones-Drew mold, but has not demonstrated much speed.

Which Cleveland running back will finish the 2013 season as the most valuable fantasy player?

Which Cleveland running back will finish the 2013 season as the most valuable fantasy player?

  • Chris Ogbonnaya

  • Willis McGahee

  • Bobby Rainey

Rainey could prove a tricky tackle with more chances, but he only merits fantasy consideration if whoever is lined up at quarterback hands him the ball near the goal line.

McGahee now has a solid grip on those duties, so he’s worth owning and starting as a flex in the right situation. Cleveland’s 91 yards helped propel Buffalo’s rush defense up to 24th with 116 yards per game, so that fortuitous play needed a cheap one-yard score to muster fantasy value.

Next week, the Browns play the Detroit Lions, who allow 5.2 yards per carry. McGahee could deliver another usable fantasy output in ugly fashion, but anyone starting him is gambling on him scoring a touchdown, otherwise the results won’t be pretty.

A 70-yard, one-touchdown output is the peak right now for McGahee—or any Cleveland back. 

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