After fumbling twice in the first half—one fumble was returned for a touchdown by Buffalo defensive back Da'Norris Searcy—Ridley was benched in favor of backup Shane Vereen. He did not see the field after rushing for 46 yards on nine carries.
Vereen finished with 159 yards of total offense, officially freaking out fantasy owners who used a relatively high draft pick on Ridley. After looking like a steady RB2 option to start the year, Ridley was downgraded to risky after Vereen's performance.
Things can change quickly in the NFL.
A pair of significant injuries to Vereen and Danny Amendola leave Ridley as a key piece to Bill Belichick's Week 2 offense against the New York Jets. Vereen needs surgery after breaking his wrist on Sunday. As reported by ESPNBoston.com, Amendola is listed as doubtful with a groin problem.
ESPN's Matthew Berry had no problem listing Ridley as "back" when news of Vereen's injury first broke:
The pair combined for 260 yards of total offense against the Bills. The Patriots won't reinvent the wheel in the scope of their offense, but common sense dictates that establishing an early running game will be key to controlling the flow of the game against the Jets.
As this tweet from ESPN's Mike Reiss suggests, Belichick is being forced to have a short memory with Ridley's fumble woes because of the hand the Pats have been dealt.
The situation bodes well for Ridley's fantasy prospects.
The Jets have a stingy defense but did allow 65 yards and a touchdown to Tampa Bay running back Doug Martin in Week 1. On a short week and traveling to New England, it will be tough for Rex Ryan's defense to shut down a strong running game in a similar manner on Thursday night.
Ridley had just six fantasy points in a home game against the Jets in 2012, but rebounded later in the year to post a 97-yard, one-touchdown afternoon in a New England blowout. This is a different Jets team, but Ridley is a back who produces solid totals when he avoids turning the ball over and receives consistent chances.
Heading into Week 2, Ridley's outlook is extremely high. His trade value might be higher than ever.
If you have running back depth on your roster, now might be a great time to flip Ridley to bolster another position. Don't settle for a similar player, though. Sell high! Ridley is in line for 20-plus carries on a weekly basis until Vereen is fully healthy.
From a roster standpoint, Ridley looks to be a favorable play against the Jets. LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden will get carries to spell the 24-year-old from LSU, but all signs point to Ridley getting the keys to the offense while Tom Brady works through the kinks with an unproven set of wide receivers.
Ridley, Brady and Julian Edelman all appear to be must-starts on Thursday night. Questionable ball security will once again hinder Ridley's chances if fumble problems persist, but the coaching staff has publicly shown faith in Ridley in a short week of practice.
Similarly, now is a great time to get the most value in a trade for Ridley. I wouldn't advise a trade if your RB rotation is suspect, because Ridley has a chance to provide consistent production each week. If you can get away with it, you might just get a steal in return.
In the fantasy football world, Ridley is back from the dead this week. Given another chance to make up for his Week 1 showing, evidence is pointing toward Ridley having a big Week 2.
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