While the Detroit Lions and their fans believe they’ve found the answer at running back in rookie Kerryon Johnson, that doesn’t mean there’s no work available for others. Although for 27-year-old backup Theo Riddick, that work may not come as a runner. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean Riddick can’t be a productive player, and the proof of that came over the past two games.
Riddick was sidelined for nearly a month with a knee injury, but his return to the field grabbed some attention. This was largely due to the fact that he didn’t receive a single carry, but did catch seven passes for 36 yards. The numbers weren’t exceptional, but seven catches for a running back is solid.
Then Week 10 rolled around and Riddick again failed to receive a single carry, but caught six passes for 60 yards, and it quickly became apparent he could have fantasy football value. While the Detroit back is likely only a name to consider in point-per-reception leagues, he’s still worth evaluating as an option. Part of this is due to the fact that he’s acted as the team’s slot receiver a fair amount following the Golden Tate trade.
Let’s take a look at whether Riddick is worth starting in fantasy football in a Week 11 matchup with the Carolina Panthers.
Should You Start or Sit Theo Riddick?
This is an interesting spot for Riddick and fantasy players who are in need of a bye-week filler or possible flex play. With Marvin Jones (knee) ruled out against the Panthers, it means Kenny Golladay will receive a ton of work, and Riddick should also get a nice boost as well.
What stands out quite a bit is how much playing time Riddick has received over the past two weeks. Per Football Outsiders, the Lions back played 56 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 9 and 59 percent in Week 10. With Jones out and the Lions light on pass-catchers, we could see Riddick play out of the slot more than he has in either of the past two games.
As far as the matchup goes, it’s actually hard to evaluate, as the Panthers have been solid against opposing running backs but have given up four receiving touchdowns to the position. With that said, all of that may be irrelevant if Riddick plays wide receiver. If that proves to be the case, then the Panthers being mediocre against receivers (119 receptions, 1,527 yards, nine touchdowns) is worth noting.
All-in-all, considering we have six teams on bye this week and many owners are in need of a filler, I have no problem using Riddick as a flex play in 12-team leagues or larger. Personally, I’d stick to point-per-reception leagues, as his touchdown upside may be limited, but he should see a ton of targets.