Ask 100 owners who the top 3 running backs are and the odds are you will get an answer similar to something like Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster and Doug Martin. Those answers are hard to argue. When you get past the top tier name brand commodities, owners seem to prefer names like C.J. Spiller, Ray Rice and Marshawn Lynch. One name that continually slips is Darren Sproles. Despite putting up almost 1,600 all purpose yards and eight touchdowns last season, Sproles seems to be ranked somewhere in 15-30 range on the running back depth charts. That is just crazy.
Two years ago, I watched with great displeasure as Sproles got scooped up by another owner in one of my fantasy leagues. This owner, (who shall go unnamed, but you know who you are) rode Sproles and Aaron Rodgers to the fantasy championship. There were weeks where this owner wouldn’t even have a full roster, but the magic of Sproles (& Rodgers) were enough to send that team to the summit. Last season I was fortunate enough to have Sproles take one of my teams to the fantasy super bowl glory. Over the last four fantasy seasons I’ve participated in, whoever has Sproles has at least made the playoffs. There’s an old military saying that says once is a happenstance, twice is coincidence, third time is enemy action. Don’t let your fantasy football enemies get this guy.
2011 saw Sproles net 2,696 total yards and 10 touchdowns. Think about that for a moment, 2,696 yards all-purpose yards. Last season Sproles put up 1,577 yards and eight TD, which are respectable numbers. It was the first season since 2007 that Sproles failed to hit the 2,200 yard mark. Factor in that the New Orleans Saints had a rough go with the loss of coach Sean Payton, and I would go so far as to say he was underutilized. Payton’s return this season cannot be overstated in terms of what that means to the Saints offense. With the Atlanta Falcons taking the division crown away from New Orleans last season, you can count on the Saints taking that personally and coming out on fire this year to prove that they belong on top of the NFC South.
Despite the fact that the Saints depth chart has Sproles listed as the No. 3 back, Sproles will again play a prominent role in the offense. At 5-foot-6 he is small enough to fit through the narrowest of holes and has lightning quick speed. When he gets the jets going, there are few defenders who can keep pace. Brees wont hand the ball off to him too much, but he relies on screens and short passes to get Sproles the ball, something that increases his value in PPR.
Also locked in as the Saints No. 1 punt and kickoff returner, Sproles will have plenty of chances to factor in. Hitting 2,000 total yards and somewhere around seven to nine touchdowns seems perfectly reachable, especially when you factor in the schedule. This season New Orleans faces off against some high octane offenses like the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, and of course division rival Atlanta twice. There will be shootouts.
Whether it is on the ground, through the air, or on special teams, Sproles can certainly help your squad. I would have no qualms having him be my No. 1 back. If you can grab him as your No. 2 or flex, that is even better. I have no problems burning a round three or four pick for him. Depending on your first round choice, Sproles might be worthy of a second round pick. The guy is a legit threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball, and he is completely capable of taking your team all the way.
As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.