Those are pretty much the worst words I’ve ever heard on a Monday. Actually, no, the worst Monday words came earlier this morning when I was informed that our office coffee maker which grinds fresh, delicious beans is out of service for several days. Worlds asploded.

But that’s selfish, as my high-caffeine needs are secondary to your running back needs, especially those of you in keeper leagues who spent highly on Trent Richardson. We need to step back from our ledge, friends, because T-Rich still has the same high ceiling long-term keeper value due to his bulky frame that’s paired with great speed. So no worries there.

In the short term, though, there’s plenty of reason to be worried, especially with a player at a notoriously brutal position who’s already off to a slow start after recovering from August knee surgery.

Richardson was benched in the second half of Cleveland’s loss to Indianapolis yesterday when he struggled with his rib injury (only eight yards on eight carries). As any self-respecting player would be, Richardson’s instinctive inner tough dude wasn’t happy with being benched after he re-aggravated the injury, but he understood head coach Pat Shurmur’s decision.

Frankly, it was a pretty simple one. Shurmur is employed to win football games, but somewhere deep in the back of his mind he’s aware that he still works for a rebuilding franchise, and despite some youthful promise the Browns’ odds of making the playoffs this year remain slim. That applies even in a division where the Ravens could take a step back due to all of the injuries to all of their defensive players. So subjecting an injured running back to further punishment when he’s already hurting is both senseless and stupid given the current state of affairs in Cleveland.

What concerns us is exactly how serious Richardson’s injury is, and how much it could linger and bother him again even when he is deemed to be “healthy”. Here’s the full quote from our scary headline, via the Akron Beacon-Journal:

“Coach didn’t think I was as I usually am,” said Richardson, who wore a flak jacket to protect his ribs. “That’s something I have to swallow. It’s a process trying to get back. The injury I have is much bigger than what folks think it is, and I don’t want to do anything to hurt the team.

“I’m not myself out there right now. You look at me, I guess I’m not running hard like I’m used to, so I’m not out there right now. So it is worse than what people think it is.”

Welp, that sucks, but we can find some peaceful solace in the fact that Richardson’s words are in direct opposition to Shurmur’s. While the coach acknowledged that his top running back wasn’t effective and wasn’t his usual bruising self, he said Richardson also wasn’t any “worse for wear”. Progress?

No, probably not. For now, you know the drill: pick up Montario Hardesty (owned in only eight percent of ESPN leagues, and 10 percent of Yahoo leagues), and worship your Richardson effigies

While Richardson still ranks seventh among running backs in fantasy points using standard ESPN scoring, that production has come almost solely through his touchdowns, and his five scores between weeks 2 and 5. He’s only averaged 3.4 yards per carry, and 49.7 per game. He needs to find something that resembles a week-to-week rhythm, and to do that he needs sustained health.