Patriots Fantasy Football: Stevan Ridley a Sleeper?

Has Stevan Ridley become an undervalued fantasy player due to the Patriots' system?

When it comes to fantasy football and the Patriots in 2012, one of the generalizations I most often here is "don't draft Patriots running backs because of the committee approach they take."

On the surface, this makes a lot of sense. No Patriots running back has had more than 1,008 yards since Corey Dillon in 2004. And with 2011's lead back BenJarvus Green-Ellis having departed to the Bengals via free agency, the Patriots have been left with a group of relatively inexperienced rushers that have most fantasy pundits overlooking the position for the team when it comes to fantasy drafts.

In my opinion, I don't think that the Patriots should be overlooked at the running back position that easily. While Stevan Ridley has been looked at by many as a potential break-out candidate, he generally hasn't been looked at as a strong fantasy option.

However, people easily forget that the Patriots, over the last three seasons, have focused on running the ball a lot more in the red zone. Leading rusher Laurence Maroney hit the end zone nine times in 2009, while Green-Ellis reached pay dirt 24 times combined over the last two years.

While I'm not sure the Patriots will trust Ridley as much as Green-Ellis in the red zone, if training camp has been any indication, Ridley will get his fair share of touches in that area. Overall, I really don't think it's out of the realm of possibility for Ridley to pick up 8 to 10 touchdowns and 700-1000 yards. While he might not be a first or second round pick, broad generalizations have actually made Stevan Ridley into somewhat of a sleeper pick. If he's sitting there in the mid-to-late rounds of your fantasy rounds, I wouldn't hesitate to pick him. He could turn into a solid #2 back in deeper fantasy leagues this season.

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