Fantasy Football 2013 Preview: Bigger Role For Stevan Ridley

By Tristen Challe
Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re a fan of the NFL or have watched the daily news at all within the past month, you’ve heard the stories and new developments on the situation concerning New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

In the midst of an investigation, Hernandez found himself no longer a Patriot. What does this mean for the team? As far as running back Stevan Ridley is concerned, it can only mean good things for him in the upcoming season.

Since the release of Hernandez, the hidden story is the tale of other tight end Rob Gronkowski. He has yet another offseason surgery and his return to the field is undetermined. Without their top-two tight ends, the Patriots will look even more to Ridley to guide the team.

On a team that is thought as a pass-first offense, Ridley saw 290 touches in the 2012 season.

To put this number into perspective, Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Doug Martin had 315 and 319 carries, respectively.

The biggest surprise is that his 290 touches ranked him at sixth in the entire NFL out of rushing attempts. With the loss of Gronkowski and Hernandez, Ridley’s total attempt will only rise, which is great news for him and fantasy owners.

For most fantasy players, myself included, you aren’t looking to draft a Patriots running back in the first couple rounds. With Tom Brady as the quarterback, you’re skeptical on how well any Patriots running back will perform.

This idea needs to be thrown out the window, never to be seen again.

Ridley racked up 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Those 12 touchdowns tied for the total put up by Adrian Peterson and his yardage total ranked as seventh-best. In every stat line, Ridley is a top-10 running back.

Drafting Ridley in the 2013 fantasy football draft is not one to shy away from. With his increased roll on the team, Ridley could find himself as a top-five running back. He may not be flashy or rack up those 70-plus-yard touchdowns, but he gets the job done week in and week out, and any fantasy owners will be able to depend on him.

Tristen Challe is a Fantasy Writer for Rantsports. Follow him on Twitter @TristenChalle

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