Theo Riddick hasn’t impressed this season, and even has disappointed in PPR leagues. He’s only on pace to catch 61 balls compared to the last 2 seasons, when he caught 53 in 10 games last year, and 80 balls in 2015. A lot of Riddick’s value last year came from the opportunity that opened up from Ameer Abdullah’s injury.
This week, Golden Tate is not expected to play, and that void of a low ADOT type of receiver can be fulfilled by Riddick. Tate has averaged about 10 yards per receptions so far this year, and Riddick has been at about 8 yards per reception for his career. Tate’s role in the offense is very important, and Stafford likes to use those short to intermediate passes as an extension of the running game to set up big plays.
The Steelers’ secondary is very good, so Stafford has less of a reason to test them. As a team, the Steelers have given up the fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, we know we can’t trust Eric Ebron to get it done, so Stafford has to find a way to get it to Riddick. The Steelers aren’t as good in the pass coverage of running backs; they are 15th against them DVOA, according to Football Outsiders, and they give up the 10th most fantasy points to RBs. A lot of those points are because they allow RBs to catch the ball; Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 9 receptions against the Steelers, Buck Allen and Alex Collins combined for 8, Kareem Hunt had 6, and Joe Mixon had 3 in limited snaps.
It’s definitely tough starting Riddick after he hasn’t done much this season, but if you’re in a PPR league and you’re hurting at running back, you can do a lot worse this week.