Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/17/13
Stevan Ridley had good fantasy numbers in 2012. He wracked-up 1,263 yards rushing on his way to 12 touchdowns. His contribution in the passing game was minimal, but that isn't necessarily a knock on his ability or his future potential in this offense.While the Patriots may be considered a pass-first team, Ridley is not exactly an afterthought, despite having a little trouble with fumbles. But contrary to popular opinion, that is not out of line with other backs in the top 10. He actually had one less fumble than Jamaal Charles, and only one more than Adrian Peterson!No doubt, Ridley can improve his ball-handling (avoiding the wrath of Belichick is a good motivation). And he also has time to work on his catching ability, though that may not be much of a concern with Vereen and Bolden most likely being the go-to guys in that department.Ridley's strength is as a slashing runner and that is where he will excel in the offense in 2013 and beyond. He will be the feature back and he will command the bulk of the carries. I don't see any other backs that have a decent chance of making the roster taking reps away from Ridley. Ridley had 290 touches in 2012 and will have the opportunity to increase that number in 2013.Simply put, if he is successful from week to week, Belichick won't bench him and his numbers will go up. That translates to at least 1400-1500 yards of rushing or more, and two or three more touchdowns, not including the occasional pass reception that could result in a TD or two over the course of the season.And don't worry about Tim Tebow stealing TDs from Ridley; even if he makes the final roster cut, all indications have him riding the bench rather than on the field. And with the challenge of the loaded running back depth chart going into training camp, Ridley has plenty of motivation to kick his performance into high gear to prove his place as the premier back in New England, and one of the best fantasy picks in the league as well.
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