After a 2015 season with the New York Jets that started late as he recovered from a torn ACL, and saw him produce little (90 yards on 36 carries), running back Stevan Ridley has signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions. The release of Joique Bell created a bit of a void in the Lions’ running back mix, and Ridley should step into a similar short yardage and goal line role next season.
From a fantasy football perspective, Ameer Abdullah is line to be Detroit’s lead back next season and Theo Riddick is coming off a season where he led all running backs with 80 receptions. But the two backs combined for just two rushing touchdowns, both by Abdullah, so if the Lions make a push toward a more balanced offense there should be some opportunities for Ridley in the red zone.
Ridley had a nice 2012 season with the New England Patriots, with 1,263 rushing yards (on 290 carries) and 12 touchdowns on his way to being a top-10 fantasy running back in standard scoring leagues. He was solid again 2013, with 178 carries for 773 yard and seven touchdowns, but fumble issues led him into Bill Belichick’s dog house and the aforementioned knee injury derailed Ridley’s career in 2014.
Ridley will not push Abdullah or Riddick for passing down work, with just 27 career receptions, which automatically puts a lid on his fantasy upside. But if Abdullah fails to progress in his second NFL season he could lose some carries, and Ridley would be in line to take that work along with retaining goal line priority. As a RB3 or RB4 in 12-team standard leagues for 2016, Ridley is on track to be well worth a shot.