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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
49ers take a step back defensively
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(3:11 pm ET) After allowing an average of 16.6 points on 308.4 yards in their previous five games, the 49ers gave up 38 on 446 to the Chargers in Week 16. It was only the second time they allowed more than 30 points in a game, and the 446 yards were a season worst.

From a Fantasy perspective, though, their DST still turned in a fine performance thanks to three interceptions, including one that Antoine Bethea returned for a touchdown in the second quarter. The 49ers also had two sacks.

The 49ers DST has scored double-digit Fantasy points in six of the last eight weeks and showed in this one that it's still capable of big numbers even when the defense isn't at its best. Keep it active for a favorable matchup Week 17 against Arizona.


Raiders list Week 16 inactives vs. Bills
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) The Raiders have listed the following players as inactive for Sunday's Week 16 matchup with the Bills:  wide receivers Vincent Brown (groin) and Denarius Moore (knee, ankle), tight end Brian Leonhardt (concussion), cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring), guard Tony Bergstrom, tackle Menelik Watson and defensive tackle Stacy McGee.

Brown, Moore, Leonhard and Chewka were previously ruled out on the team's final injury report for Week 16. Bergstrom, Watson and McGee are healthy scratches.

The team will have cornerback D.J. Hayden (back) and defensive tackle C.J. Wilson (knee) available after both players were listed as questionable to play. Also active are quarterback Derek Carr (thumb) and cornerback T.J. Carrie (ankle), both of whom were deemed probable.

The Raiders are a 6 1/2-point underdog at home against the Bills.


Colts WR T.Y. Hilton inactive against Cowboys
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:09 pm ET) Colts No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton, who was questionable with a hamstring injury, is inactive for Sunday's game at Dallas. Hilton missed practice all of last week. He leads the team with 82 grabs for 1,345 yards and seven touchdowns.

With Hilton sidelined, wideouts Donte Moncrief and Hakeem Nicks should get increased opportunities against a Dallas defense that ranks 21st against the pass, allowing 250 yards per game.

Indy is a 3- or 3.5-point underdog at Vegas sportsbooks.


Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray active against Colts
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) One week after breaking a bone in his left hand, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is active for Sunday's game against the Colts. Murray, who was listed as questionable, will play with a protective pad on his surgically-repaired hand.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports the Cowboys are nervous about Murray's ability to pass-protect. Murray leads the NFL with 1,687 rushing yards. He'll be backed up by Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar.

Dallas is favored by 3 or 3.5 points at Vegas sportsbooks.


Jets WR Percy Harvin (ribs) questionable to return Week 16
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:01 pm ET) Jets wide receiver Percy Harvin was forced out of Sunday's home game against New England with an injury to the ribs, per Newsday reports.

Harvin left the game in the third quarter with the injury and was deemed questionable to return to the game. He caught four passes for 44 yards and carried the ball twice for only 1 yard.


TD makes Chargers DST's day
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:57 pm ET) The Chargers didn't have a standout defensive performance Week 16 at San Francisco, allowing 35 points on 447 yards, but their defense was still instrumental in their 38-35 victory. Ricardo Mathews stripped quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the football late in the third quarter, and Corey Liuget recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.

It was one of two sacks and three fumble recoveries for the Chargers on the day. Their DST has contributed a touchdown in three of the last five weeks.

Though the touchdowns have made the Chargers DST a productive Fantasy unit in recent weeks, it's been giving up plenty of points and yardage. You still wouldn't want to trust in it outside of an especially favorable matchup, which it doesn't have Week 17 at Kansas City.


Vikings' Chad Greenway forced to exit game with knee injury
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(2:57 pm ET) Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway had to leave Sunday’s game against the Dolphins with a knee injury.

The team reported his return is questionable. Linebacker Audie Cole replaced Greenway in the lineup.


Bears DE Willie Young (Achilles) carted off Sunday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:49 pm ET) Bears defensive end Willie Young has been carted off early in the third quarter of the Sunday game against Detroit with a left Achilles injury. He's done for the day.

Falcons RB Steven Jackson (quad) downgraded to out Week 16
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(2:47 pm ET) Falcons running back Steven Jackson was downgraded from questionable to out for the remainder of the game, per the team's official website.

Jackson departed in the second quarter with a quad injury and was escorted back to the locker room for further evaluation. He finished the game with four carries for 9 yards and one catch for 14 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman will shoulder the load the rest of the way.


Rams DE Chris Long cleared for Week 16
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(2:45 pm ET) Rams defensive end Chris Long, who was probable with an ankle injury, is active for Sunday's game against the Giants. Long has four tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery in four games.

 
 
 
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