Darren Sproles is a trendy player in the final rounds of best ball leagues, but he’s not the best ADP value on his own team.
When the Eagles re-signed Sproles instead of selecting a receiving back in the draft, the fantasy community took notice. When NJ.com reported on May 19th that Sproles was poised for a big role in 2018, his ADP jumped again. He was quickly grabbed in Round 20 of the MFL10 of Death.
With Wendell Smallwood on the outs and Donnel Pumphrey in a fight to make the team, the third-down role looks wide open for the crafty vet. But is Sproles the best way to play the Eagles RBs?
RB Targets Plummeted in 2017
After two years as a fantasy force in New Orleans from 2011 to 2012, Sproles settled back into a low-end RB2 role over the next four seasons.
Even with only 2.8 expected points on handoffs, Sproles was a useful fantasy player during that window. His run finally ended in 2017 when he went down with an ACL tear in Week 3. The Eagles tried to soak up the touches by committee . . .
. . . but RB targets cratered.
The Eagles targeted the RB position 2.5 fewer times per game in 2017.1 After Sproles was targeted 71 times in 2016, no Eagles back earned even 20 targets a year ago. The marginalized Wendell Smallwood led the team with 18.
The 2018 Depth Chart
Jay Ajayi is the bellcow, but his performance splits from Miami to Philadelphia are striking.
Even though his touch numbers collapsed, his scoring increased as a result of the vast differences in efficiency between the two offenses. He’s poised for a larger role in the offense in his second year with the squad but will have to fight off a young gun for touches.
Corey Clement saw a similar uptick later in the season as the undrafted rookie started to cement himself as part of the future.
Clement had only two targets over the first six weeks before finishing with 15. Of course, it wasn’t the regular season that left a lasting impression for Clement fans. He emerged in the playoffs with 10 receptions over three games, including four for 100 yards in the Super Bowl. That performance has led to a gaudy 13th-round ADP for a former UDFA in a tricky time share. But it may be justified. With Blount’s 6.8 ruEP gone to Detroit, someone has to step up.
While Ajayi, Blount, and Sproles all logged negative rushing efficiency numbers last year, Clement sparkled in limited snaps. Now he’s asking for more work in all phases.
Clement’s potential jump is especially relevant within the context of RB breakouts. Blair Andrews has been looking at age curves and player breakouts in his excellent series The Wrong Read, and he’s demonstrated that Year 2 is the only year where RB points actually jump. It’s also the year with the best chances of a breakout.
Grab Clement, Consider Sproles Carefully
Ajayi and Clement both possess some competency in the receiving game, but, superficially at least, don’t appear real threats to a healthy Sproles. Of course, when we consider Clement’s late-season performance, his chances for breakout, and the failure rates for older players, it becomes a little more difficult to use that last pick on Sproles instead of selecting another defense.
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- They threw less but threw more efficiently. (back)