Breaking Down Fantasy Implications of Darren Sproles' Potential Return to Saints

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent INovember 15, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 16:  Darren Sproles #43 of the New Orleans Saints during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles returned to practice this week, and there's a chance he could play in Week 11 against the Oakland Raiders, so what does that mean for your fantasy football team?

Per Sheldon Mickles of the Baton Rouge Advocate:

While interim coach Joe Vitt said Sproles looked “real good,” he wasn’t ready to say that he’ll definitely play in Sunday’s game with the Oakland Raiders.

“We’ll evaluate,” said Vitt, who noted that Sproles didn’t take a hit on the hand he injured on Oct. 28 at Denver. “He practiced well today. You wait and see if the hand swells, all those things. But he was dynamite today."

Sproles returns to a lineup that has seen a shift toward more of a balanced approach since he departed a few weeks ago, with Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory taking on bigger roles in his absence. 

Ingram and Ivory are more traditional runners than Sproles, who has thrived in the past as a pass-catching specialist and special-teams ace. They have averaged 20 carries between the two of them the past two games, totaling 231 and two touchdowns during that stretch. 

Before getting injured, Sproles had only been averaging a smidgen over nine touches per contest, averaging just under 63 yards. He has scored four touchdowns this season—all of them coming through the air. 

As a return man, Sproles has been held mostly in check this season, averaging 6.6 yards per punt return and 28.7 yards per kickoff return while failing to return any for touchdowns. 

If Sproles is able to come back and participate fully this week, I'd expect him to return to form as a pass-catching running back. That said, given the way Ivory and Ingram have stepped up of late, I'm not expecting to see much in the way of rushing yards for Sproles. 

Until we know exactly how the Saints plan on using their three top running backs, Sproles is a risky start. At best, he's only worth a flex spot on your roster, but I'd hold off on starting him altogether for now. 

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