For fantasy football owners, New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley has been more than just a headache. I have went over Ridley’s value from week to week multiple times, always hoping for the best but knowing in the back of my mind that he would disappoint owners once again. Now entering Week 8 of the NFL season, I feel strongly about Ridley putting up a decent enough performance to boost your team.
Multiple teams are on bye this week and multiple fantasy start worthy backs will be at home sitting on the couch. Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Trent Richardson, Ray Rice and Arian Foster all will not be on the field this week. The waiver wire is so thin this year and at this point in the week, there isn’t one player you can pick up who will outperform Ridley. You can feel safe about placing him in your lineup to take over for one of the bye-week backs.
Back in Week 6, Ridley finally put up the numbers his owners were hoping to see, 20 carries for 96 yards and two scores, but at this point he may have already found a spot on your bench. Then next, in Week 7, Ridley got 11 carries for 50 yards and score. The last two weeks, Ridley has given his owners double digit fantasy totals, found the end zone and appears to be a fantasy relevant running back again.
Up next for the Patriots and Ridley are the Miami Dolphins who have allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing running backs. With a 4.5 yard per touch average over the last two games for Ridley, this could be quite the juicy matchup.
Last season against the Dolphins, Ridley was able to tally a total of three touchdowns in the two times the team’s faced off. While this season has had its share of struggles for the Patriots and they aren’t quite the same type of team they were last season, Ridley’s ability to historically find the end zone against the Dolphins is a major factor.
While you may be skeptical of the amount of touches Ridley gets over fellow running back Brandon Bolden, Ridley will be the feature back. Bolden is averaging 5.4 rushing attempts per game whereas Ridley is getting 13.0. The return of Rob Gronkowski to the lineup will also limit the use of Bolden in the passing game, and Ridley could see his most on-field time of the season yet. With Gronkowski on the field gathering plenty of attention from the defense, the Patriots are going to want their primary runner in the backfield to hit the vast open holes in the defense.
I’m not calling for another 20+ point performance from Ridley in Week 8, but he’s right on the edge of a top 10 play this week and will add some value to your team, especially if one of your feature backs is on a bye.