Stevan Ridley's fumbling issues are well documented. He's fumbled eight times the past two seasons, losing six of them. Coach Bill Belichick finally had enough in 2013 and put Ridley in the doghouse. Ridley saw limited action down the stretch last season and just 19 carries in the playoffs, losing big-back duties to LeGarrette Blount in the process. Blount parlayed that into a contract with the Steelers, making Ridley once again the favorite for early-down carries. Ridley, however, fumbled once again in the Patriots' second preseason game, and has averaged 3.94 YPC this summer. Not terrible numbers by any means, but nothing to write home about.
On Monday, one of the top Patriots beat writers, Mike Reiss, left Ridley off his 53-man roster projection after Ridley played just 11 snaps in Friday night's dress rehearsal. Tom Brady played 44 snaps, and Shane Vereen was in on 31 of them. Reiss has the Patriots keeping Vereen, rookie James White, Brandon Bolden, and Jonas Gray at running back. It'd be shocking to see New England cut ties with Ridley. But if he can't hold onto the football, there's no place for him on a Belichick team. At this point, we'd bet there's a better than 50-50 shot Ridley makes the team. It's hard not to like Ridley at his 7th-round (RB30) ADP. He's the true definition of boom-or-bust. If he booms, you're getting RB1/2 production. Even if Ridley doesn't make the Patriots, he's going to be on an NFL roster and the inside-running talent is there.
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News Nugget #1
There was much hoopla made about Zac Stacy entering the game second behind Benny Cunningham on Saturday night against the Browns. It fell to the wayside a bit after Sam Bradford re-tore his left ACL. But fantasy owners were in a panic about Stacy's usage. Coach Jeff Fisher said after the game he just wanted to see Cunningham get some work with the starting offensive line. We believe him. The Rams like Cunningham, but Stacy is still lead dog. On Monday, Stacy was still listed as the starter on the Rams' website and top beat reporter Nick Wagoner also has Stacy penned in atop the running back pecking order. With the loss of Bradford, the Rams are going to lean on Stacy as their offensive centerpiece. Expect him to see 18-22 carries per game with Cunningham chipping in for 6-10 touches. Stacy was already a value pick at his early-third-round ADP. It's dipped since Saturday. He's an RB1.
News Nugget #2
We had five news blurbs on Matt Schaub in a 24-hour span Monday. It's not because he's been tearing it up this preseason. Schaub's battling elbow problems and has been downright terrible. He's completed 24-of-47 throws for 218 yards (4.63 YPA), no touchdowns, and one interception. Schaub missed practice Monday. Coach Dennis Allen isn't concerned and remains adamant that Schaub will start the season opener, even if Derek Carr continues to impress. The Raiders are paying Schaub an $8 million salary this season, so he's going to get the first crack at the gig. But the arm issues have to be alarming. We'd consider Carr the favorite to lead the Raiders in quarterback starts in 2014. Schaub is simply a drain on all of the Raiders' skill players. He can't drive the ball. Defenses know it and they can stack the box against the run.
News Nugget #3
Following his third concussion since November, there was some thought Wes Welker may consider retirement. That's not going to happen, as the Broncos shot that down Monday. Either way, Welker's head trauma issues are a troubling matter. Since he does most of his work near the line of scrimmage, Welker is always in the crosshairs of linebackers and safeties looking to make a big hit. The more concussions one suffers, the longer it takes to get cleared and the more susceptible you are to more of them. Welker is going to be a big part of the Denver offense, but it may have to scale back his workload. He's just not worth the risk at his fourth-round ADP. We're letting someone else take him. It'd be hard to pull the trigger on Welker ahead of the seventh or eighth rounds.
Depth Chart Quick Slants
The Saints released pass rusher Victor Butler. He tore his ACL in June of 2013 and missed all of last season. The once-ascending talent may not be healthy. … The Giants plan to use a committee approach at tight end. … Coach Jim Harbaugh praised Stevie Johnson, saying he feels good about him making the 53-man roster. Johnson's had a quiet summer and isn't on the fantasy map. … Ladarius Green is running as the distant No. 2 tight end to starter Antonio Gates. Green's true "breakout" may not come until 2015. He's more TE2. … The Cardinals released longtime K Jay Feely. Rookie Chandler Catanzaro won the job. … Nate Freese has won the Lions' kicking job. … Shaun Draughn will open the year as the Bears' No. 2 running back. … Matt Cassel has been named the Vikings' Week 1 starter, as expected. … Jaron Brown is the Cardinals' No. 4 receiver, behind No. 3 John Brown, and ahead of Ted Ginn.
Injury Quick Slants
Giants LG Geoff Schwartz (toe) is expected to miss at least six weeks and possibly the entire season. He's arguably the team's best lineman. … Marcus Lattimore (knee) will open the year on reserve/NFI and miss at least the first six weeks. … Bernard Pierce has been officially diagnosed with a concussion. … Jordan Reed has a sprained thumb but expects to play Week 1. … Steven Jackson (hamstring) returned to practice Monday. … Allen Robinson (hamstring) remains sidelined at Jaguars practice. … Odell Beckham (hamstring) will miss the preseason finale. … Sammy Watkins (ribs) is practicing without limitations.