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2012 Draft Prep: Ridley over BGE on Draft Day

Senior Fantasy Writer
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BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a great running back for the Patriots the past two years. He scored 24 touchdowns over that span and did well killing the clock late in games since he never fumbled.

But Stevan Ridley will make fans in New England -- and Fantasy owners -- forget about Green-Ellis. The prediction here is Ridley will have a better year than Green-Ellis. Ridley is the running back to target on Draft Day.

Green-Ellis is now in Cincinnati, and he is going to start and potentially be a workhorse. But what kind of workhorse is he exactly? And how will the Bengals offense actually make him better?

Take away Green-Ellis' touchdowns, and he's really just a mediocre running back in Fantasy. He struggled to run the ball for the Patriots in 2011 at just 3.7 yards per carry on 181 carries. And he's a terrible receiver with only 26 career catches in four years.

The way to view Green-Ellis is as a direct replacement for Cedric Benson, who is now in Green Bay. Benson ran for 1,143 yards and six touchdowns on 3.8 yards per carry last year. He had 134 Fantasy points last season, which ranked No. 23 at running back (two points ahead of Green-Ellis). He also had just six games with double digits in Fantasy points, and the Bengals aren't a great running team.

Green-Ellis also is expected to share time with Bernard Scott, and he's dealt with a foot problem in training camp. Factor in four games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and Green-Ellis should remain just a plodder with little upside. He's someone you should settle for in Round 5 or later as a low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 running back. I'd take him on the latter side.

Ridley, on the other hand, is the running back with upside. He's had a solid preseason with 34 carries for 152 yards (4.47 yards per carry) and a touchdown, and he shined as a rookie at 5.1 yards per carry with 87 attempts for 441 yards and one touchdown.

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He will also share carries with Shane Vereen, but Ridley will replace Green-Ellis as the goal-line back. Remember, that's 24 touchdowns over the past two seasons. He'll also prove to be a better receiver than Green-Ellis.

I consider Ridley a No. 2 Fantasy running back with upside. And I would draft him ahead of Green-Ellis in Round 5.

Sure, counting on a New England running back to be a starter is a risky proposition. You might have a better chance at hitting all six numbers of the lottery than predicting if Ridley will be consistent on a week to week basis. Recently retired Patriots left tackle Matt Light once told me even he didn't know going into each game which running back would get the majority of touches -- maybe coach Bill Belichick really does keep that to himself. But I'm confident in Ridley because his quarterback has faith in him as well.

"He's been a strong runner since the day he came in here, and he's continued to do that," Tom Brady said after Ridley had 16 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay in the third preseason game. "When he gets the opportunity, it seems like he's doing a great job, so that was great to see."

After that performance, the Boston Globe reported the running back competition between Ridley and Vereen was over. Vereen had 23 carries for 81 yards through three preseason games, and Ridley has clearly outplayed him.

Ridley is looking forward to a big year in his sophomore campaign.

"When I see green grass, I'm trying to get out of there," Ridley said. "I'm not the fastest guy in the world, but I'm trying to get as many yards as I can."

Ridley has to cure some fumbling problems that hurt him as a rookie, but the Patriots realize his talent. We will all soon see that he's a better version of Green-Ellis -- quicker to the hole, a more skilled receiver and the ability to be just as successful at the goal line.

If you want to draft Green-Ellis ahead of Ridley because he's established and you like his situation in Cincinnati, that's fine. But I'll take my chances with Ridley, even in what could be a muddled situation, because he has more upside. And I'm expecting Ridley to be the better Fantasy option this year.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Saints backfield split could still lead to Fantasy success
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) The Saints split Mark Ingram's lost playing time between Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson in Week 3 against the Vikings, though Robinson was the big winner.

Thomas saw 41.4 percent of the team's offensive snaps through the first two games, a number that jumped up to 49 percent as he accounted for 51 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. However, he took a big backseat to Robinson in the running game, just as he did when Ingram was healthy.

Robinson was a total non-factor in the passing game, but led the team with 69 rushing yards on 18 carries. Prior to Week 3, Ingram had accounted for 27.6 percent of the team's offensive snaps, while Robinson was seeing the field just 17.9 percent of the time. Robinson pretty much took on Ingram's role Sunday, as he played 41 percent of the team's snaps.

Thomas should continue to be the team's back in passing downs, but Robinson looks like the workhorse in the passing game. If this distribution stays constant moving forward, Robinson could find a great deal of success in Week 4, against a Cowboys defense that is allowing 5.0 yards per carry to opposing running backs.

Robinson is still available in 28 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, but he should be a solid starting option in Week 4. Consider adding him if available. 


Report: Odell Beckham not expected back Week 4
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:57 pm ET) The Giants will likely be without rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham for Thursday's game against the Redskins. Beckham, who has missed the first three games due to a hamstring injury, is not believed to have received clearance to practice yet, a source told NJ.com.

As playing time stagnates, it's time to drop Eric Ebron
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:47 pm ET) There is no doubting Lions' rookie tight end Eric Ebron's skill set; it is what got him drafted 10th overall in last June's draft. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much room for him in the team's offense at this point.

As noted in the offseason, Ebron had history against him in entering the league as a potential Fantasy contributor, as rookie tight ends rarely pan out. Still, that history did not discourage Fantasy owners from selecting Ebron in 69.2 percent of CBSSports.com leagues this season, as the 17th tight end taken on average.

Unfortunately, he has just three catches through three games, making him essentially useless for Fantasy purposes. What's worse is Ebron has been third on the team's depth chart this season, as he has played just 32.2 percent of the team's offensive snaps, well behind by Joseph Fauria and Brandon Pettigrew.

At this point, Ebron can be dropped in yearly Fantasy leagues. 


Bishop Sankey takes a step forward, at Shonn Greene's expense
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:29 pm ET) Titans running back Shonn Greene might have found the end zone in Week 3 against the Bengals, but he saw less of the field than any of his backfield mates in the 33-7 loss.

Maybe it was just the flow of the game, but Greene's role was much-diminished Sunday. Greene saw sporadic playing time, including deep into the fourth quarter, but took a big backseat to both Dexter McCluster and Bishop Sankey. Greene played 46 percent of the team's snaps in Week 1, but has seen that number fall to 16 and 20 percent over the last two weeks.

And while McCluster was the big winner in Week 2, his role fell to 26 percent of the snaps in Week 3. This time around, it was Bishop Sankey's turn to shoulder the load, as he jumped up from 10.9 percent of the snaps through two games to 42 percent Sunday. He responded to the increased role well, with 61 yards on 10 carries, as well as one catch for 9 yards on his lone target.

Sankey was considered a big-time sleeper heading into the season, but we knew he would have to fight for time in a crowded backfield. Based on Week 3, he just might have earned it. Now is the time to snatch him up in the 34 percent of CBSSports.com leagues he is still available in.  


Jaguars see some changes -- and success -- in backfield in Week 3
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:20 pm ET) Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart has fallen flat on his face in his first three games as a feature back, and he started ceding playing time in Week 3 against the Colts.

Gerhart played 66 and 70 percent of the team's snaps in the first two games of the season, respectively, but that number dipped all the way to 50 percent Sunday. And, while Jordan Todman has served as the team's primary backup (21.1 percent of the snaps, first two games) it was converted college quarterback Denard Robinson who saw a step up in playing time in Week 3.

Robinson played 33 percent of the team's offensive snaps, after playing in just 11.4 percent in the first two games. And, though he did not have a high bar to clear, Robinson established new career-highs in carries (eight) and rushing yards (33) in the game.

The Jaguars gave Gerhart a three-year contract this offseason, but the early returns have not been promising; just ask any of Gerhart's Fantasy owners. Gerhart was drafted 41st overall on average this season, but might just be droppable at this point. Keep an eye on the team's playing time distribution, because Robinson might be an interesting sleeper if the team makes a change. 


Report: Duke Ihenacho (heel) to miss several weeks
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(2:18 pm ET) Redskins safety Duke Ihenacho suffered a fractured heel bone Week 3 against the Eagles and will be out several weeks, according to ESPN 980 in Washington D.C.

Report: Jonathan Goodwin to miss time due to ankle sprain
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:16 pm ET) Saints center Jonathan Goodwin suffered a high ankle sprain Week 3 against the Vikings, sources told NFL.com. Goodwin is slated to undergo an MRI Monday to determine the severity of the injury and the length of time he will miss.

Denard Robinson has earned more reps on offense
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:14 pm ET) Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said Monday running back Denard Robinson has earned the opportunity for more reps on offense. Robinson led Jacksonville in rushing during a 44-17 loss Week 3 against the Colts with 33 yards on eight carries.

Report: Vincent Jackson to remain active despite wrist injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:10 pm ET) Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson suffered a small fracture in his wrist during Thursday's game against the Falcons, multiple sources told FOXSports.com. However, the injury isn't expected to cost Jackson any playing time, as he plans to play Week 4 against the Steelers.

Jackson likely sustained the injury on the first play of Tampa Bay's second offensive series after he fell on his wrist following a hit from safety Dwight Lowery. Jackson continued to play without getting treatment.


Four Falcons players sit out practice Monday
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(2:07 pm ET) Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (hamstring), wide receiver Harry Douglas (foot), running back Antone Smith and wide receiver Devin Hester sat out practice Monday. Smith has a right hamstring injury, according to ESPN, but it is uncertain why Hester was held out.

 
 
 
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