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How to Play the Eagles Backfield After Sproles

Darren Sproles has been one of the most unique and versatile running backs of this generation, and in one play his career has likely come to an end. With the end of Sproles’ time in Philadelphia, opportunity arises for other players in that backfield.

Sproles played in 48.5 percent of snaps in Week 1 and 69.4 percent of snaps in Week 2. The Eagles have three players who could potentially benefit from an increase in snap counts, LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement. 

LeGarrette Blount

Owned in over 97 percent of leagues, Blount isn’t a player you can acquire off the waiver wire at this point of the year. Blount came into the season as the favorite to be the lead RB on the team, but has been anything but impressive. At the end of preseason, rumors were circulating that he was on the roster bubble. Since then, he’s mustered an average of nine attempts for 38 yards and produced one total touchdown.

Blount certainly could be the first beneficiary of the distribution of snaps. However, it’s less likely, as Blount isn’t capable of taking up the passing game work being vacated by Sproles. At this point, Blount is a hold in hopes that his workload increases despite the unimpressive start to the season.

Wendell Smallwood

Smallwood is the second back that may have a massive snap increase in the coming weeks. Entering into his second year, Smallwood wasn’t a target on most fantasy gamers’ radars because of his position behind Blount and Sproles on the depth chart. Smallwood received a 20.5 percent snap share and posted only two fantasy relevant games in 2016.

Despite being sparsely used in the past, Smallwood is the candidate best suited to fill the third-down role going forward on this team. Smallwood racked up 57 receptions in his final two years of college.

In his look at Smallwood’s draft year, Shawn Siegele pointed out that Smallwood’s size, speed, agility give him some decent comparables.

Smallwood-BSS

On top of his physical ability, the Eagles have talked up Smallwood’s future usage.

 

It’s possible the newly re-signed Kenjon Barner could cut into Smallwood’s usage, but the space back has only accumulated 16 receptions across 32 games in three seasons.

Corey Clement

The final potential beneficiary in the Eagles backfield is the rookie, Clement. Although he ran for a touchdown in Week 3, Clement is the least likely to produce fantasy relevant numbers in the coming weeks. This undrafted free agent is well below average in every significant physical measurement that determines NFL success except for his agility score.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 11.19.10 PM

Clement also never played the third-down role in college, producing a mere 29 receptions over the course of four seasons. Clement has neither the skill set nor the resume to take on Sproles role and will likely remain an irrelevant fantasy asset.

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