When the Saints put the word out in March that they were looking to shed RB Darren Sproles' contract, the Eagles couldn't get to the phone fast enough to make an offer for him. Giving up a fifth-round pick for a guy with 232 receptions the last 3 years who also happens to be one of the league's better return men was a no-brainer.
What Sproles gives HC Chip Kelly is a lethal space player who will force opposing defenses to play a lot less man coverage against the Eagles this season than they did last season. Kelly has said the Eagles saw man coverage 60 to 70 percent of the time last season.
"God bless them [if teams try to play man against Sproles]," said Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis, who had the unenviable task of trying to defend Sproles in the playoffs last season. "He is hard to cover out of the backfield. And you are very aware, as a defensive signal-caller, who is matched up in your man coverage on him. And Shady [LeSean McCoy], too, for that matter."
Sproles won't be on the field a lot. For one thing, he's 31, which is dangerously close to nursing-home age for a running back, even one who appears to be in phenomenal shape.
Sproles has played more than 500 snaps in a season only once in his career (501 in 2011). Last year, he played only 364 snaps and had 165 touches. McCoy played 890 snaps and had a league-high 366 touches. Sproles had only 53 rushing attempts last season, but had 71 receptions. He's never had more than 93 carries in a season. And while there's every reason to believe he could thrive as a runner in the Eagles' offense, he is expected to earn his keep primarily as a receiver and a punt returner. If Sproles can stay healthy, he can be a guy that draws eyes on defense, much like DeSean Jackson and his speed did last year. But, a fantasy wait-and-see approach to Sproles is probably best. The later you can add him in deeper PPR leagues, the better. He could end up being a huge bargain at that price.