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Instant Analysis: Darren Sproles traded to the Eagles

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As NFL free agency has finally started to pick up with star offensive players signing contracts in new locations, the news came across the wire this morning that New Orleans Saints mainstay and PPR darling Darren Sproles had been traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fifth round pick.  It has been public knowledge for about a week that the soon-to-be 31 year old Sproles wouldn’t be returning to the bayou for his tenth NFL season and the DLF team has already discussed that impact on the Saints in depth.

Here, we’ll specifically discuss the impact of this trade from the Eagles’ perspective and try to speculate on what mad scientist Chip Kelly might be scheming up in his laboratory.

Darren Sproles, RB PHI

Those who own Sproles on their dynasty teams are probably ecstatic, and rightfully so, that he’s moving from the NFL’s flagship prolific offense to perhaps the league’s most innovative offense. On paper, this looks like an opportunity for some sort of renaissance for the player who set the NFL’s all-purpose yardage record (2,696 total) in 2011. However, even the most optimistic Sproles owners must realize he’s no longer capable of being the type of feature back he was for Sean Payton a few years ago.  The best case scenario here is he’ll put up similar numbers in 2014 as he did in 2013.  If he were to finish the season with 220 rushing yards, 71 receptions, over 600 receiving yards and four touchdowns, that should be considered very successful.  That’s not to knock his short-term dynasty value too much as those numbers were good enough to make him the PPR RB23 in 2013, but with just one year remaining on his contract, his value is obviously limited to dynasty teams certain to be competitive next season.

If your league awards significant points for return yardage, you might consider giving Sproles a slight bump, but he still shouldn’t be relied upon to end up as much more than a team’s RB3.

LeSean McCoy, RB PHI

McCoy was second in the NFL amongst all running backs last season in total number of offensive snaps played.  Sproles certainly wasn’t brought in to replace McCoy, but it’s likely he was brought in to spell him for a series here and there.  Overall, McCoy should remain extremely productive and Sproles’ presence will help keep him fresh for the fantasy playoffs.  The news of this trade doesn’t give any reason to move him from the top spot in my dynasty running back rankings, either.  McCoy owners should proceed as normal.

Nick Foles, QB PHI

As if Foles’ nascent sophomore season wasn’t efficient enough, the addition of a highly reliable set of hands in the short passing game should make his third year even better.  It will be borderline impossible to top the 27:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio that he posted in 2013 but his 64.0% completion percentage should get a soft boost.  It’s not outside of the realm of possibilities that Foles will throw 40 touchdowns in 2014 and that standard is only made more attainable with Sproles in the mix.

Bryce Brown, RB PHI; Chris Polk, RB PHI

The addition of Sproles definitely doesn’t help the immediate situation faced by either of these third year running backs, but I’m not so sure it hurts them very much, either.  Since Sproles is primarily going to be used out of the slot and as a returner on special teams, a role neither Brown nor Polk has ever fulfilled, neither running back should have their role on the team jeopardized.  However, if one of these two were to find themselves on the wrong side of a numbers game when it comes time to set the 53 man roster, smart money would be on Brown to be looking for a new team.

This is somewhat ironic given that, between he and Polk, Brown has the higher upside and the better ability to be a three-down back at the NFL level.  However, it was Polk who was the much more effective player when given the opportunity to spell LeSean McCoy last season as Brown came across as the type of player that needs volume (the type of volume that does not exist in the Eagles’ offense) in order be effective.  Brown probably possesses a decent amount of trade value so his dynasty owners shouldn’t worry too much, but this is a situation worth monitoring, especially during training camp this summer.

Damaris Johnson, WR PHI; James Casey, TE PHI

It is nearly a foregone conclusion that both Damaris Johnson and James Casey will be looking for work elsewhere in the near future.  There were high hopes for Johnson (who owns NCAA records for all-purpose yardage) and how he could be used by Chip Kelly.  Those hopes never quite came to fruition, unfortunately, as he was part of a group that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in both kickoff and punt return yardage.  There were also high hopes for Casey as Kelly raved about his multifunctional abilities last Spring after he came to the Eagles on a three year deal worth 15 million dollars.  There still might be a plan to get him involved in the offense, but he rarely saw the field in 2013 and with Sproles now in tow to fill that gadget role, his contract becomes highly expendable.  If either of these players were still hanging around on your dynasty roster, that last shimmer of hope for them to be productive has faded.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Doggie

    March 13, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Let’s be real. I don’t see how this doesn’t affect McCoy. If anything, I can easily envision him losing some 3rd down action to Sproles. Those checkdown passes are especially valuable in my 1 PPR league

    • Nah

      March 13, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      He’ll lose some receptions and some rushes here and there but this was going to happen anyway as they spell him more and more. Instead of Polk or Brown, it will just be Sproles now.

      It really doesn’t affect his value – McCoy will still get his requisite 2-3 catches a game, the vast majority of carries, and goal-line work.

      • cityslickers94

        March 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm

        and likely help with his durability.

        the immediate reaction for all shady owners would be…why??!!
        but once u take a deep breath, you realize its all good.

        shady will get his and this may help him stay on field long term even more. which is what we should be thinking about in dynasty.

        thank you Jeff Beran and DLF for the instant reality check.
        that’s why we follow DLF!

  2. Cy23

    March 13, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I’m really having trouble figuring out how to value Sproles now. I have to choose 2 between him, Rashad Jennings and Jonathan Stewart… all have the chance to produce but are risky and old(er).

    • phantasy5

      March 13, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      IMO Sproles & Jennings Cy! How many more seasons are folks going to be disappointed with J-Stew? I wouldn’t trust any RB’s in Carolina right now.

  3. phantasy5

    March 13, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    As an Eagles Phan I’m loving it right about now! As a dynasty owner I’m trying to buy, buy, buy where I can. I think McCoy owners should relax! Shady is the “focal” point of this offense and that ain’t changing, trust me. He is still young and the Birds want to make sure he’s around for awhile, and what a better way than to bring in Sproles. Obviously Brown & Polk are nice players but they’re not dynamic like Sproles. Also Sproles adds another dimension to special teams which has been a constant Achiles heel for them. If your league awards points for return yards this guy is gold.
    In Chip We Trust…..Go Birds!

  4. bigefat

    March 13, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    I think the guy who WILL be most affected is DeSean Jackson. I think they are easily tired enough of him to basically put Sproles in the slot and put Maclin and Cooper on the outside! If Maclin can stay healthy he’s obviously not nearly as much headache as Jackson and I could really never see any reason to give Cooper a 5 year deal without some idea on how to rid themselves of Jackson!
    Either way this offense is going to light up scoreboards!

    • SJ

      March 14, 2014 at 8:48 am

      Thats funny – I actually thought the same thing. That DJax may be the one who is most affected, not McCoy, because DJax may now lose targets in the short game to Sproles when they place him out-wide, or in the slot. But not sure, maybe thats just reading too much into it, and that DJax will be fine.

  5. Cconnally3

    March 13, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Any Shady owners that are worried about his value dropping after the Eagles got Sproles should come and see me so I can take him off of your hands.

  6. SJ

    March 14, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I wonder if this is just the Eagles (GM – Roseman) making up for lost time?

    Roseman targeted Sproles when he was leaving SD as a FA those years back, but missed out to NO. Now it looks like he’s making up for that missed opportunity. So I wonder if getting Sproles still makes sense. McCoy’s already had multiple breakout years, and Sproles is never a “lead-back”, so its not like your using him as the PHI RB1 if something ever happened to McCoy long term. You would still need to pair Sproles with a B.Brown/Polk in the backfield.

    I think Roseman/PHI front office, is targeting a player they think is still incredibly dynamic. I guess some question if Sproles still is, but I’d guess they use him as just a gadget guy out of the backfield, rather than a true RB. Basically like NO did.

    But the question is – does Sproles have enough to still be dynamic, or is he close to done? He is getting up there in age (31). Not sure I’m really excited with what Sproles is capable of anymore. This just seems like a transaction that wont lead to much in Philly. McCoy owners shouldnt worry at all, either.

    • phantasy5

      March 14, 2014 at 1:41 pm

      SJ
      Don’t forget he is a return guy as well, which is an area in much need for Philly! And you’re correct about Sproles not being a lead back, God forbid something happens to Shady. I don’t think he’s ever been used in that capacity no matter where he’s been. Having said that, I don’t believe he has quite the wear & tear on him as lead backs do at age 30+, so having him in on special packages & occasional 3rd downs to spell Shady is how they veiw him IMO.

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