The New England Patriots will enter week 1 of the NFL season without their top five receivers from last season. While Tom Brady is still obviously an elite QB the Patriots offense will no doubt look different from last season. One way the Patriots may solve the lack of depth at receiver is by running the ball more often.
2012 saw a Patriots offense that for the first time in a while embraced the running game. The Patriots finished 7th in total rushing yards last season after finishing 20th the year prior. This was in large part to the explosiveness Stevan Ridley displayed in his 2012 campaign. Ridley gained 1,263 yards on 290 carries(6th in the league) with 12 touchdowns, while losing some touches to fellow tailbacks Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead.
The lack of receivers may also give Ridley an opportunity to be more involved in the passing game. Ridley finished last season with only six receptions, a number that seems likely to improve this upcoming season.
With the great success of the running game last year you can bet that the Pats will be running the ball just as often if not more frequently in 2013. Since the Aaron Hernandez incident Ridley’s average draft position has been rising and is now the 15th ranked running back in fantasy.
Ridley was mostly viewed as an RB2 last season, but with the current situation in New England he could be valued as an RB1 in most fantasy leagues.