Darren Sproles is expected to play his usual role for the Eagles this season as a backup running back and contribute on special teams. DeMarco Murray was traded to the Titans, which means Sproles could be the No. 2 running back behind Ryan Mathews. But Sproles has proven to be better for his team than Fantasy owners, and in 2015 he had 83 carries for 317 yards and three touchdowns and 55 catches for 388 yards and one touchdown. Sproles only had four games with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league, and he has limited upside in standard formats. In PPR leagues, Sproles could be a No. 4 running back since he had at least four catches in eight games. But in any format he's only worth drafting with a late-round pick since his upside is limited for Fantasy owners.
Sproles has reported to practice and resumed his "extensive" role in the Eagles' system, Dave Zangaro of CSN Philadelphia reports. Sproles skipped the voluntary portion of the Eagles' offseason program due to family-related issues, but returned to practice Tuesday and participated in both team and position drills, as well as on special teams returning punts. The latter is nothing new, as Sproles has been returning punts for years now (and has returned a pair for touchdowns each of the past two seasons). Nonetheless, it's reaffirming to hear newly-assigned head coach Doug Pederson declare the almost-33-year-old Sproles as the "primary guy" regarding punt returns, and offensively as "a big part of what we do." Sproles has operated as a gadget player collecting 70 rushing attempts and roughly 50 receptions on average in each of his two years in Philadelphia, but those numbers could rise in a remodeled offense sans DeMarco Murray.
Though Sproles was not in attendance for the Eagles' voluntary OTAs, per NJ.com, coach Doug Pederson expects the running back to be present for the team's mandatory activities. With Sproles not on the field and Ryan Mathews limited in his work this week, Kenjon Barner and rookie Wendell Smallwood have been seeing added RB reps. While there have been reports that the Eagles received calls from other teams inquiring about Sproles during the NFL draft, no deal is imminent. In the event that the Eagles do move Sproles, or he sustains an injury, Smallwood -- who is viewed as a natural pass-catcher by Pederson -- could see added opportunities in the team's offense.
Sproles ran the ball three times for 24 yards and a touchdown, and caught three passes for 20 yards, in Sunday's 35-30 win over the Giants. Sproles' yards from scrimmage ended up nearly identical to his first season in Philadelphia, but his rushing touchdowns were cut in half, from six to three, and his yards per carry fell by two yards per attempt. The Eagles' offense as a whole was notably less productive in 2015 than in Chip Kelly's first two years, and Sproles showed both on offense and in the return game that he can still produce as a playmaker. Where he fits in the Eagles' offense remains to be seen.
Sproles caught seven passes for 56 yards and ran five times for nine yards in Saturday's 38-24 loss to Washington. Sproles' up-and-down season continued in the Eagles' NFC East-deciding loss to Washington. He found space time and time again in the passing game, receiving nine targets from quarterback Sam Bradford, the second-most of any Eagles player. But he was unable to find his feet in the run game, averaging less than two yards per carry. His punt returns continue to be his biggest chance at a boom game, and the Eagles have always returned punts well against the Giants. Still, he's likely a boom-or-bust option at the flex.
Sproles had six carries for nine yards and three catches for 16 yards (on four targets) in Sunday's 40-17 loss to the Cardinals. DeMarco Murray only had two carries for three yards, with Ryan Mathews getting 11 carries for 58 yards and one catch (on two targets) for three yards. Chip Kelly blamed game flow for Murray's lack of touches, but it's pretty evident that Kelly has simply decided the team is better off with a Mathews-Sproles backfield. That's not to say Murray won't get any touches at all, but the development does bode well for Sproles and Mathews in Week 16 against the Redskins. Still, the committee is far from an ideal situation, even with Murray's role in decline.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|9||11/06||@New York Giants||26||20.38|
|12||11/29||Green Bay Packers||11||15.33|
|16||12/23||New York Giants||26||20.38|
|3 Year Avg||64||289||4||55||460||1||104|