Darren Sproles Breaks Hand And Hearts
November 2, 2012 | Chet
For all you fake footballers who had planned on starting Darren Sproles this Monday night, well, I guess you still can if you like losing, but he went and broke his tiny little football catching hand. There is no timetable for his return, but his specialty is catching passes and a working hand might come in handy. You’ve got to hand it to me there, don’t you? Whatever, talk to the hand.
So Sproles will be out indefinitely, which begs the question, who benefits from his horribly disfiguring injury? Well, it looks like there could be a few possible winners. But the main winner has to be Pierre Thomas. Of the three main backs Thomas is the guy coaches trust the most in all facets of the game. Even with Sproles in the lineup, Thomas was on the field nearly as often as Sproles. Thomas has been the main rushing back all season with 58 attempts to Mark Ingram’s 47 and Sproles’ 26. So he should at least continue to see his normal rushing attempts of around eight a game with a possibility of more, but the real boon to his value will come in the passing game.
Darren Sproles has averaged 7.4 targets and 5.6 receptions per game. He sets 12th for running backs in PPR scoring. The only legitimate player to take those targets is Thomas. Mark Ingram has seen two targets all season and caught one for negative one yard. That’s not production you take to any banks. Thomas has 21 targets on the season and has caught 15 of those for 145 yards. He’s not Darren Sproles, but he is much more adaptable than Ingram.
The Saints have never believed that Thomas could handle the every down back load, so that is the main concern going forward. But even if he were to get all of Sproles targets and keep his eight carries, that still only puts him in the 13-16 touch range, which is nowhere near a back-breaking workload, but still more than Sproles, who is a top 12 back in PPR leagues.
Thomas has averaged 4.8 yards per carry in his career and had 50 receptions last season. He has the ability to take those 15 touches a game and easily give you 100 total yards and a touchdown for your fake football team. As for the other running backs, Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory and Travis Cadet, there are some possibilities.
Mark Ingram is next in line for carries and should see at least a slight bump on his 6.7 carries per game. He should remain the short yardage back as well, which gives him touchdown potential, but he’s had that same potential all season and scored just one touchdown. He’s still a weak flex play, but a little stronger than he has been.
Chris Ivory and Travis Cadet move up a notch, but are still stuck behind Thomas and Ingram. The most intriguing of the two though, is Cadet. He served as the Sproles-type in preseason and looked good doing so. If you were to look for an exact type to fill Sproles’ tiny shoes, it would be him. Of course, that was preseason and he has yet to play this season. The coaches aren’t going to insert Cadet over Thomas unless he falters. But he is worth a speculative add in a monster league.
So I’ve put Thomas in as my 13th ranked running back this week and feel pretty good about it. His touches and usage of course are still hypothetical at this point and playing him over someone you know is going to see the ball 20 times is risky, but in that offense I’m willing to take the risk.