When the New Orleans Saints decided to cut their losses and trade Reggie Bush to the Dolphins in July, questions arose about how the Saints offense would fare without their luxury back. Enter Darren Sproles who probably wasn’t on your fantasy radar as of last week but is now a very intriguing fantasy option. It’s obvious that the Saints are hoping to utilize Sproles’ talents the same way they did Bush’s and with that, a serious question arises, can Sproles be a better Reggie Bush than Bush himself?
Sproles is a player who was exciting to watch in San Diego but didn’t really fit in. The Chargers constantly waffled on what they wanted to do with the little guy, which led to them attaching the franchise tag to him in 2009. At times, it sounded like the Chargers were grooming Sproles to be the heir to LaDainian Tomlinson, but that ship sailed last season when the team drafted Ryan Mathews in the first round. In New Orleans, the 28-year old Sproles will have a fresh start in the prime of his career and will know exactly what is expected of him.
With Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram likely to handle the between-the-tackles workload, Sproles will have free range on the outside. When comparing the effectiveness of Bush and Sproles in the New Orleans offense, it’s plausible that Sproles should flourish and be a more consistent back for your fantasy team. Looking over Bush’s fantasy numbers, he’s always been an impact in PPR leagues due to the high amount of targets he gets in the receiving game. However, in the past two seasons, Sproles has averaged 12 more receptions than Bush (52 per year opposed to Bush’s 40.5) and has averaged more rushing yards as well.
Although Sproles is four inches shorter and 13 pounds lighter than Bush, Sproles wins the durability game too. One of the biggest red flags that rise when considering Bush each year is his health. In the past four seasons, Bush has missed 20 games and caused his owners some serious nervous tension. While Sproles missed the entire 2006 season with an ankle injury, he has only missed one game in the past four years. Adding Sproles to an already explosive Saints offense and accounting for his durability, it’s assumable that his stats in the Big Easy should surpass those of Bush’s.
Like his predecessor, Sproles is always a threat to break a huge return as well (over 7400 return yards and 4 return touchdowns since 2005). So if your league also rewards return yards, Sproles becomes that much more valuable. Owners nevertheless should not get carried away and draft Sproles too high or at all if playing in a non-PPR league. As in real life, Sproles is an indulgence pick that should be considered low-risk/high-reward and not a fantasy workhorse.
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