After playing second fiddle to BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2011, Patriots RB Stevan Ridley broke out last season to the tune of 1263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. Considering his final ADP was as the 27th ranked running back in all fantasy football league formats, those owners who took him late got tremendous value.
But what about 2013? The Patriots let Danny Woodhead walk in free agency and he eventually signed with the Chargers, but should there be concern from both dynasty and redraft owners regarding Shane Vereen? If I had to draft right now, I wouldn't worry too much about whether or not Ridley's value is going to drop this upcoming season. He should repeat, or at least come close to, the numbers he put up last season.
Here are a couple reasons why:
- Vereen should be the first player to take over Woodhead's old third-down/pass-catching role. A role that has had value in the past in PPR leagues, albeit some inconsistent value. Vereen showed a glimpse of what he could do against the Texans in the playoffs, racking up 124 total yards and 3 touchdowns in the Divisional round. But if you break down the totals, Vereen only carried the ball 7 times. Ridley carried the ball 15 times and averaged 5.5 yards a carry in the same game. So Vereen will see a rise in touches this year, if he doesn't fall flat on his face, but Ridley showed he's simply too good to be pushed for early down work. If that game is a glimpse of what the future holds, both players could be valuable. But it in no way shows me Ridley will lose any of his past value this summer.
- Stevan Ridley is a hard runner to bring down. With a current average of 4.75 yards a carry over the last 2 years, he's one of the better running backs in terms of yardage. This year should see improvement in that area. Beat writer Jeff Howe Tweeted that Ridley showed up to OTAs "looking like a house" after adding muscle in the offseason. That's not only good for Ridley's rushing style, but will help him stave off the chances for a potentially serious injury. Sometimes the addition of muscle slows a runner down. But since Ridley was never known as a speedster to begin with, it shouldn't be a problem.
If you paid attention to last year's stats, Ridley does have some drawbacks. He isn't used much in the passing game. He's only garnered 9 receptions in his career. So his PPR value slips a bit in that perspective. He also doesn't fit the Patriots' fast-paced no huddle offense, which should feature a lot of Vereen due to his pass-catching ability. That's one of the reasons why Vereen should be taken later in PPR leagues.
But in the end, Stevan Ridley should come close to 1200-1250 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns again in 2013. Considering he was able to do it with Vereen and Woodhead behind him all of last year, there's no reason he can't at least match last year's numbers with only Vereen in the way. Bill Belichick isn't dumb enough to fix something that isn't broken
And for those questioning the addition of LeGarrette Blount? Don't! I don't even think he'll make the final 53-man roster.