Eagles Trade for Darren Sproles
The Eagles made big waves on Thursday, trading for Darren Sproles. While this move crowds the Eagles backfield, Philly adds an explosive playmaker to a team that already houses several. He was reportedly traded for a 2014 fifth-round pick.
Sproles will be 31 when the season starts, but he does not have the traditional wear and tear of running backs north of 30. He has carried the ball only 258 times in the past four seasons combined, including the postseason. Over 10 running backs had more than 258 carries in 2013 alone.
The addition of Sproles means fewer snaps for McCoy, but it’s not a death knell. McCoy slides from the top of some draft boards to third on most, behind only Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles.
As the PFF main Twitter account noted moments after the trade, Sproles’ presence means fewer snaps for McCoy, but it doesn’t mean both can’t be on the field together.
Sproles will eat into some McCoy snaps. But no reason both can’t be on field together. Sproles spent 39.1% of snaps split out wide/ in slot
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 13, 2014
Sproles has been, and will continue to be, a pass-catching back. As our own Mike Clay said on Twitter, Sproles lined up as a wide receiver on 50 of his 95 targets last season. He tallied 71 receptions in 2013, which wasn’t even the most among running backs on his own team; Pierre Thomas had 77.
The other Philadelphia running backs — Bryce Brown and Chris Polk — have lost value as well, Polk in particular. Brown retains some value as a McCoy handcuff, thought there have been rumblings that Brown may not be on the roster come the season opener.
As Sproles has more receptions than carries in recent years, his addition also impacts the Philadelphia wide receivers and tight ends. The outside receivers will lose some targets to Sproles, but not so much as to have a huge impact on their fantasy value. As we saw in New Orleans, there’s plenty of room for Sproles and big-name pass-catchers.
However, unlike New Orleans, the Eagles do not have a Jimmy Graham-type tight end. In fact, it’s unclear yet who exactly will be the Eagles’ No. 1 tight end — Zach Ertz or Brent Celek. With Sproles eating into their snaps and targets, especially on third down, the tight end who wins the starting job in Philadelphia figures to be the only one with sufficient fantasy value.
Sproles finished last season as the 23rd-best running back in PPR leagues, putting him as a low-end RB2, and I would expect him to be in the high-end RB3 range in 2014.
Sproles figures to see fewer targets than he did in New Orleans, as McCoy remains a viable option in the passing game, but he moves from one fast-paced offense in New Orleans to an even faster offense in Philadelphia. This fits his strengths and will allow the Eagles to deploy Sproles the way we’ve grown accustomed to seeing him used.
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