He stands at 5’6″, 190 pounds, but Darren Sproles can provide a big presence for 2013 Fantasy Football rosters.
Honestly, I don’t think many people realize how truly productive Sproles has been for the New Orleans Saints. Because he isn’t necessarily the featured back and is involved in a committee situation, fantasy owners sometimes tend to avoid drafting Sproles. We know what he is. Sproles isn’t an every down, featured NFL running back who can constantly run between the tackles. He is without a doubt the best catching running back out of the backfield and will be heavily involved in that Saints offense. Since joining the Saints, Sproles is averaging 5.6 catches for 47.5 yards per contest, while finding the end zone 14 times. Many would assume that with big time tight end Jimmy Graham in the mix, Sproles wouldn’t be targeted very much in the red zone. However, Sproles was targeted 19 times in the passing game in the red zone last season. Drew Brees often waits for Sproles to come out of the backfield and throws a little dink and dunk style of pass across the middle, where Sproles obviously has the elusiveness to find the end zone.
Here’s a pretty interesting statistic. In 18 of Sproles’ 29 career games with the Saints, he has posted double-digit fantasy points. He is a very safe bet for at least five catches per contests, which obviously makes him one of the most appealing runners in PPR formats. Sproles caught 75 passes last season, and to put that into perspective, was more than some top wideouts such as Steve Smith, Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson. Any running back that catches 75 balls in a season and is targeted over 100 times needs to always be relatively high on fantasy radars.
Keep in mind, head coach Sean Payton is back on the sidelines for New Orleans, Sproles will be one of the focal points of that offense. Although he only had 48 rushes last season, including four games with no touches and seven with five or less, the Saints are a pass-heavy football team. Brees finished second in the league in passing attempts last year with 670 and if he continues to throw that much, and Sproles continues to be targeted 100 times, there is no doubt in my mind that he will finish the season as a top-20 fantasy running back in 2013.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.