Darren Sproles has been considered a fantasy football sleeper this season, a prospect that got even better with the recent injuries to LeSean McCoy. However, it is important not to go overboard when taking him in your draft.
McCoy had missed a few practices heading into the team's third preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but head coach Chip Kelly eased the tension by explaining, "He’s fine. He practiced full [Monday]. He’s fine. It’s not as big of an issue as I think anybody has made it out to be," via Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly.
Unfortunately, Philadelphia Eagles fans were given another scare during the preseason game when the running back was forced into the locker room with a thumb injury. ESPN's Adam Caplan provided the latest details:
X-rays on McCoy's thumb are negative, but he's out for the game.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) August 22, 2014
While it is concerning that he could not return, this was likely just a precautionary measure. In a regular-season game, you can assume McCoy will be able to play through these minor injuries.
Will Darren Sproles be worthy of a fantasy start at any point this season?
As a result, Sproles will remain the backup behind one of the best running backs in the game. McCoy rushed for a league-leading 1,607 yards last season and will keep getting as many carries as possible. Considering Bryce Brown only totaled 75 rushing attempts in 2013 as the primary backup, it is hard to imagine too many more going around this year.
Sproles did run hard in the preseason game and even scored a rushing touchdown, but he has never totaled more than 100 carries in any of the eight seasons of his career.
Even if McCoy was forced to miss time, some other running back would probably become the primary runner.
Instead, the former New Orleans Saints player will more likely be used as a receiver out of the backfield. This is where he has excelled throughout his career, topping 70 receptions in each of the past three years.
However, this is where it was important to see what happened before the injury to McCoy, as described by Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus:
LeSean McCoy with the casual one-handed grab on the screen for the TD— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) August 21, 2014
The 22-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown showed that the starter is more than capable of handling the majority of receiving duties as long as he is needed. Sproles might come in to spell the Pro Bowler and should get a few catches out of the backfield, but he should not be trusted to contribute much in fantasy football.
At the most, he should only be taken in the final few rounds as a low-risk flier.
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