With Benjarvus Green-Ellis off to Cincinnati and backup Shane Vereen out with a foot injury (via BostonHerald.com), the backfield belongs to Ridley. As a result, owners can expect about 225 to 250 carries this season.
Ridley averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season (via ESPN.com), making a 1,000- to 1,200-yard season likely.
Danny Woodhead may swipe some third down touches but is more of a specialist—Ridley will be the go-to back the entire year. Ridley also has good size and power, so Woodhead shouldn't be considered a touchdown vulture.
Additionally, Tom Brady can't do it all by himself. Although the Pats are considered a passing offense, their running game is vital. Surprisingly, the Pats ranked ninth in rushing attempts, with 405 carries in 2011 (via ESPN.com). Expect more of the same in 2012.
The difference, however, is that this year the Pats have a solidified, primary ball-carrier, making Ridley a great pick and a great start in all leagues.
Ridley has been getting sixth- or seventh-round treatment in most 10-owner league drafts. He's a steal at that point and shouldn't slip past the early sixth round.
This year, the RB field is shallower than ever and good WRs can be drafted as late as the eighth round. This makes Ridley one of the few value plays at RB in the mid-rounds.
If you've already drafted him, stick him in either your RB2 or flex position immediately. Odds are you won't have to move him out of that spot the entire season.
Ridley will come to play in 2012 and is set to play a huge role on any fantasy team.