This past offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles picked up Darren Sproles to be a dangerous weapon alongside LeSean McCoy. While this transaction makes sense for the team, how well it will play out for the players is in question.
The player with the most to lose from this is McCoy, coming off a season in which he was the second-ranked RB behind Jamaal Charles. He saw over 360 touches in the high-octane Chip Kelly offense, a career-high for the young back. In 2011, he also was the league’s second-most productive RB, taking in just over 300 touches.
Aside from his 2012 season and rookie season, McCoy has always been a top-10 back for fantasy owners. But in those seasons, he’s always seen the ball in his hands 280 times. While he saw the ball a great deal, his backup never saw the ball more than 75 times over the course of the season.
Sproles is used to running on a committee with the New Orleans Saints, but he has always taken in more touches in the Big Easy than McCoy’s backup has ever seen. In fact, he’s always gotten at least 120 touches, and that’s including seasons in which he only played 13 and 15 games. Of those touches, he sees 77 receptions on average — one less than McCoy’s career-high.
Even though Sproles averages a great deal of touches, he has been a sub top-20 back outside of 2011. So to see him get near his 2011 output, Kelly will need to give more attention to him. To do that, he’ll take away from McCoy’s workload.
Under Kelly last season, the Eagles gave their first and second-string backs about 450 touches (360 going to McCoy). Is this just a one-time thing though? In years past, the Eagles were averaging about 360 running back carries. But let’s assume that Kelly runs a similar offense this season, and gives his two backs 450 touches between the two.
If McCoy can touch the ball 300 times and Sproles gets another 150, they could both be top-15 backs. McCoy took in 321 touches in 2011 and was the second-best RB in fantasy. Sproles would be close to his 2011 mark where he was the 10th-best fantasy back, but that’s assuming that last year was not an anomaly.
I’d expect Kelly’s offense to be slowed down this year, bringing the total number of RB looks to around 400. If the split was similar, McCoy would get about 270 touches and Sproles would get 130.
These would be similar averages for this new RB duo. So, McCoy should be able to maintain his top-10 status, and Sproles has the upside to near the top-10 as well. He will hopefully be at least a top-20 back once again, barring injuries from the last two seasons.
I’m liking this pairing the more I analyze it, knowing that they could still retain their typical rate of production with each other’s presence. However, knowing that there’s a limit to both is the concern.
They can make it work, but I’d expect a slight drop in McCoy’s production and a minor increase in Sproles’ fantasy value. That being said, both deserve a spot on your roster this season. If one were to go down, you can bet that the other will provide great production for your team.