The Facts: Should fantasy owners, already intrigued by the receiving skills Riddick displayed last season, have reason to believe he can pick up the pace this season? Marshall Faulk thinks so. "Theo is phenomenal," the Hall of Fame running back said recently. "Man, I love how he plays the game."
Diehards Line: Riddick led the NFL's running backs in catches last season. He was second in receiving yards. He set Detroit Lions franchise records in both categories. This despite the fact that veteran Joique Bell got the start, second-round pick Ameer Abdullah was first off the bench, and even undrafted rookie Zach Zenner got a couple carries before Riddick ever saw the field against San Diego. A few weeks into the season, he was still mostly working as Detroit's third tailback, behind Bell and Abdullah. But by the end of the year, Riddick had piled up 80 catches for 697 yards and three touchdowns, affirming his place as one of the league's biggest breakout players. "Theo's just caught in a bad situation behind Ameer and Joique," Faulk said. You're not going to get much playing time." Faulk added: "I think he could play slot receiver and catch the same 80 balls. He has those abilities." Bell, who was slated to earn $2.5 million in base salary next season, was released on Tuesday. Riddick was likely to be handed a bigger role next season regardless of what happened, but Bell's release virtually guarantees that. Abdullah would be the primary rushing threat, and Zenner would become the top candidate to replace Bell as the short-yardage power guy. And fantasy owners in PPR leagues would continue to benefit from Riddick's rise.