For anyone who drafted Stevan Ridley in the second or third round in fantasy leagues this summer—I'm among your ranks, for what it's worth—few players have been a bigger disappointment this season.
For those of you who didn't draft him but need help at the running back position, now is a great time to prey upon owners fed up with Ridley's lack of production and buy the New England Patriots' running back at a bargain-bin price.
For starters, Ridley returned to practice on Wednesday. Nick Underhill of MassLive.com reported, "After missing Sunday's game with an announced knee injury, running back Stevan Ridley was back at practice Wednesday afternoon."
So it's looking pretty good that he'll return this week against the New Orleans Saints.
And it's not like LeGarrette Blount seized the staring role in Ridley's absence against the Cincinnati Bengals, rushing 12 times for 51 yards and losing a second-quarter fumble. A Week 1 fumble resulted in Ridley being mired in a running back timeshare—one imagines Blount will have to endure a trip to the doghouse as well.
Yes, Brandon Bolden seems entrenched as the third-down back, but he shouldn't eat into Ridley's carries, as Bolden has just 14 carries on the season. So don't sweat him either.
And this week's matchup is a pretty good one for Ridley and the New England ground attack. The Saints allow 14.2 fantasy points to opposing running backs per week in standard-scoring leagues, putting them in the middle of the pack in that regard, but they also give up 5.4 yards per rushing attempt, worst in the NFL.
And the Saints won't be able to stack the box against New England. With Danny Amendola back from injury against the Bengals and Rob Gronkowski likely returning this week per ESPN's Ed Werder, the passing game is going to open up for Tom Brady.
The days of him screaming at his wide receivers on the sideline are behind us.
That should open up the running game for Ridley and company, allowing the Patriots to pound the rock and keep the ball away from Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and the dangerous Saints offense.
And given how nonexistent Ridley has been for his fantasy owners this season, you'll likely be able to get him at such a low cost that any risks he brings to the table are pretty much moot. He's an RB4 with RB2 potential at the moment—if he doesn't pan out, it's not like you will have had to give up much to get him.
But if he does, you're getting the running back that totaled 1,263 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He's not going to come close to that total this year, but he could certainly be a huge contributor for folks savvy enough to buy low now.
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