Darren Sproles, PPR Stud
I've started doing MFL10 draft-only drafts over at My Fantasy League to practice different strategies from different draft slots. (These are 12-team, slow draft, best-ball PPR leagues that cost $10 to enter and pay out $100 to first place. We highly reccommend them. They also have $10 leagues that require in-season management.) After taking Darren Sproles at 2.02 in my most recent draft, some of my fellow drafters felt it was a surprising pick. One even called it a "major reach."
Really? There are people still unaware of his awesomeness in PPR formats? Let's take a look at what makes Darren Sproles a PPR stud.
Sproles finished as the #5 RB in this format in 2011. Last year, he finished 13th even though he missed three games with a fractured hand. On a per game basis, Sproles finished 11th in 2011 and 8th in 2012.
Here's a look at his game logs for the last two seasons:
In 31 games over the past two seasons, including Week 17 and the postseason, Sproles has averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game in PPR formats, which equates to 280.3 FP when prorated to a full 16-game season. If that were our projection for him in 2013, he'd be our #5 PPR RB.
Note: In standard formats, his production over the past two seasons would equate to #17 RB numbers in our 2013 projections.
As our #10 PPR RB, we currently have Sproles projected for 64 carries for 350 yards and 2.4 TDs to go along with 93 catches for 771 yards and 7.2 TD in the passing game. Most of those projections are below his actual production in the last two seasons. So if anything, we're actually a bit conservative on Sproles in 2013.
Not only has Sproles performed like a fringe RB1 in PPR formats, but he's also very consistent. Take a look at the Coefficient of Variation (CV) for Sproles along with the 18 other top-ranked RBs based on their last two seasons of production (excluding Week 17, which is always a weird week in fantasy):
|Steven Jackson||STL (ATL)||13.8||0.50|
The CV is simply the standard deviation divided by the average. It measures the relative week-to-week consistency of each player. The lower the CV, the more consistent the player's production.
Note: C.J. Spiller, DeMarco Murray and Stevan Ridley weren't the lead rusher on their respective teams for the entire two-year span, so I only included those games which occurred after their lead dog status was established. For 2012 rookies, we only have one year of data.
Notice that fellow pass-catching RBs LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice lead the way at 0.31 and 0.32, respectively. Sproles is tied for 3rd on this list at 0.35 with rookie Alfred Morris (who was very consistent given his lack of involvement in the passing game).
Pass-catching RBs tend to be more consistent because they are able to rack up a "sure" 7-9 points by catching 4-5 passes for 30-40 yards. This equates to more than a TD's worth of fantasy production when compared to RBs like Ridley and Marshawn Lynch, who haven't been very involved in the passing game.
Safety of Role
Sproles's situation in the New Orleans offense is largely unchanged. If anything, he may get a few more carries this year due to the loss of Chris Ivory.
HC Sean Payton is back from suspension, which can only help. He ran the offense in 2011 when Sproles had his breakout season. Back in June, he said this about Sproles:
"With Darren, he's got a unique skill set," Payton said. "He's real sudden. I still see him as a valuable runner as well as a receiver."
This is an important statement because his carries dropped from 87 in 2011 to 48 in 2012. If he can get those 4-5 carries in the running game, it will make his fantasy production that much better. Given his career 5.2 YPC, it shouldn't be a hard sell when the Saints are putting together their offensive plan for 2013.
As for fellow RBs Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas, I recently wrote about their relative workload and production over the past two years. In short, I really like Thomas as a sleeper in the 10th-12th rounds, especially since he was seen running ahead of Ingram in OTAs.
Regardless, that duo shouldn't impact what the team does with Sproles. He is the most explosive and productive RB on the roster and is one of the focal points of the team's offense.
In PPR, Sproles is our 10th-ranked RB, so he's a solid value in the late 1st/early 2nd. If you're picking in the #10-#12 spots and are deciding between Sproles and another late 1st RB (like Matt Forte or Marshawn Lynch), you can probably grab the bigger name and get Sproles on the way back. His ADP in PPR formats has been hovering around 2.11, so unless you are playing in a league of fools, I wouldn't recommend passing on him in the 2nd round hoping that he will be there in the 3rd. Considering he was the #5 RB in this format two years ago and had the #8 per game average in 2012, he has terrific upside in the 2nd round as the #10-#15 RB off the board.
In standard formats, his value obviously takes a hit, but his production the last two seasons indicates that he's still a low-end to midrange RB2 that is available well into the 3rd round, and perhaps even the 4th.