Darren Sproles has been ruled out of the New Orleans Saints' Week 10 showdown with NFC South rival Atlanta. However, do not let his injury force you to drop the talented scatback from your fantasy football roster, as he still has plenty of value heading into the playoffs.
New Orleans beat writer Mike Triplett had the scoop on Sproles missing his second consecutive game.
Triplett (@TripTP) November 9, 2012
Though the temptation is there to drop Sproles for running backs like Rashard Jennings, teammate Chris Ivory or maybe even a Lance Dunbar from Dallas, it is not worth the risk.
Frankly, it would be foolish.
Sproles is not a strong candidate as a true running back. We know that. He has only 117 yards rushing on the ground this season, which is good for third on the team. Ivory could potentially overtake him this weekend after picking up 48 yards on just 10 carries.
But what Sproles lacks in rushing prowess he makes up for in receiving ability. In the seven games he's played in, Sproles has hit double figures in five of them. His numbers aren't huge (high=11), but he's a consistent target for Drew Brees in a pass-happy offense.
Better yet, he's still qualified as an RB, despite his status as a primary pass-catcher.
Playoffs in fantasy football are right around the corner. Some leagues pick up action in Week 13, while others in deeper formats hit the ground running a little bit earlier.
If he's on your roster right now, Sproles is a good back to have, for a number of reasons. One—he's an almost automatic start at the flex when healthy.
There aren't many backs that have the speed and shiftiness he brings to the table. He has a clearly defined role in the offense, one that Ivory, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram can't take away. They simply don't have the speed.
Two—the NFL injury bug can hit at any time. Just last year, Fred Jackson and Adrian Peterson went down in the same week. It was during fantasy football playoffs. If you had both on your team—which I unfortunately did—it was lights out for the rest of the season.
If a marquee name goes down on your roster, Sproles is a great plug in at RB2. He's not of the highest quality when it comes to upside, but as an injury replacement you could do a lot worse.
Don't be alarmed at the production from the trio currently in line for all the carries. The Saints offense will shift more towards the downhill running game with Thomas and Ivory, and Ingram could sneak in for a fantasy touchdown if owners are lucky.
Still, none of those guys are the best option moving forward.
So for now, hold off on the urge to get rid of the running back. His hand will be healed in the next two weeks, just in time for the playoffs to start. As a disaster plan and as a quality flex play, Sproles will be there for your team when you need him.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.