Week Seventeen Analysis: Darren Sproles' recent involvement in the run game has been a boon for fantasy owners, as he's averaged an unexpected six carries for 42 yards over the last three weeks. He's also scored three times in that three-game span, and he's coming off a seven-catch, 104-yard performance against Dallas. Carolina ranks 30th against opposing backs in the receiving game, and Sproles caught 13 balls for 128 yards in the first meeting, so error on the side of starting him this week.
Week Sixteen Analysis: Darren Sproles has been used primarily as a receiving option this season, but he's been double-dipping the last two weeks. As a receiver, he's now caught at least four balls in eight straight games, including touchdowns in two straight, and five of his last eight. However, he's also notched an unexpected five carries in back-to-back games, amassing 78 yards and another touchdown, which is all gravy. Dallas is a middling run defense, but they rank fifth against opposing backs in the receiving game and have yet to allow a receiving score all season. Still, Sproles' role and uniqueness supersede any matchup, so expect the usual 10-ish touches for solid yardage and a good chance of a score.
Week Thirteen Analysis: Last week Darren Sproles picked up right where he left off prior to his injury, totaling zero carries, seven catches and 65 receiving yards against San Francisco. At this point you can pretty much bank on that kind of line every week, with a 50-50 chance at a score regardless of opponent. Atlanta has been above-average against opposing backs in the receiving game, but Sproles is such a unique player that analyzing matchups is typically an exercise in futility. What we do know is that this game has all the makings of a shootout, meaning Sproles should be very active.
Week Twelve Analysis: We're assuming that Darren Sproles will return this week, but be sure to monitor his status into the weekend. In the four games prior to injuring his hand, Sproles had scored three times, and averaged six catches and 54 combo yards. Against opposing backs, San Francisco ranks sixth in rushing yards, fourth in receiving yards, and they just held Matt Forte to 67 scoreless combo yards. Still, the last time Sproles faced the 49ers was in last season's divisional playoffs, when he broke the NFL postseason record with a ridiculous 15 catches for 119 yards and a score. He's always a viable option in this offense.
Week Eleven Analysis: This ranking is based on the assumption that Darren Sproles will be active, but be sure to monitor the situation into the weekend. In the four games prior to injuring his hand, Sproles had scored three times, and averaged six catches and 54 combo yards. This week he returns to face an Oakland team that ranks 30th in receptions and 24th in receiving yards allowed to opposing backs, so it's a great matchup on paper. Just keep in mind that a hand injury is a scary thing for a guy whose value is derived entirely from his pass-catching abilities.
Week Nine Analysis: As a receiver, Darren Sproles has scored and/or topped 120 yards in nine of his last 12 games, and he's on pace for career highs of 89 catches and 738 yards. He's only averaging 17 yards as a rusher, and his usage has been all over the board, so that really doesn't even factor into the equation anymore. Philadelphia is a fairly neutral opponent that's given up a receiving touchdown to a running back in two of their last three games. There's no reason to think Sproles won't continue to produce in the passing game.
Week Eight Analysis: Darren Sproles has scored and/or topped 120 yards in eight of his last 11 games… through the air. You can expect around five carries and three kick returns each game as well, and everything he does in those arenas is a bonus. Denver is a neutral matchup any way you slice it, so you'll certainly want to play Sproles if you usually would in what has all the makings of a shootout. After all, the Vegas wise guys have tabbed this as the highest over/under of the week by a wide margin, at 55.5 points.
Week Seven Analysis: Darren Sproles is averaging just nine touches per game this season, down from last year's 11.4. While those two or three touches may not seem like a big deal, for a dynamic player like Sproles, they've made all the difference, as his weekly production has dipped proportionately. Tampa Bay ranks in the top third of the league against opposing backs in both yardage and scoring, primarily because they're so easy to throw against. Sproles averaged over 80 combo yards in his two meetings with Tampa Bay last year, so consider this a neutral matchup and start him if you usually would.
Week Five Analysis: One way or another, Darren Sproles continues to get it done nearly every week. Sproles has scored eight times in his last nine games, and he's only dipped below 60 combo yards once in his last 12 games. This week Sproles faces his former team, San Diego, for the first time, The Chargers have been average against the run, but they rank 28th against opposing backs in receiving yards, and have give up touchdown catches in back-to-back games. In a matchup that has all the makings of a shootout, you'll want to find a spot for Sproles in your lineup.
Week Four Analysis: Last week Darren Sproles was held catchless for the first time in his last 33 games. To compensate, he turned his first seven carries of the season into 62 rushing yards. For a guy who might have the most irregular usage in the league, Sproles' week-to-week fantasy production is remarkably consistent. The only thing he hasn't done yet this year is score a return touchdown, which, coincidentally, he did against these same Packers in last year's season opener. On paper, it's impossible to gauge Sproles' weekly matchups, because he's a man without a position. However, in what's sure to be a high-scoring affair, he'll find a way to produce, like always.
Week Three Analysis: If Darren Sproles is a running back, then Nick Nolte is chairman emeritus of Mensa. In his last three games, Sproles has three carries for three yards. However in those same three games, he's caught 15, 5 and 13 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns! Last week was the first time in his last seven games that he failed to score, so instead he set a career high with 128 receiving yards. Kansas City got torched by Atlanta receivers for 227 yards and two scores in the opener, and last week C.J. Spiller rolled up 180 combo yards and two scores. Clearly, there will be plenty of big-play opportunities for Sproles.
Week Two Analysis: Darren Sproles didn't log a single carry in the opener, but the triple threat is more resourceful than MacGyver. Even when he's not rushing, he's always a threat to break off a return, and he's now caught at least five balls in 18 of his last 23 games. Moreover, he's scored in seven of his last eight contests. Carolina ranked bottom-five against opposing backs in both rushing and receiving yards last year, as well as kickoff return and punt return yardage. Doug Martin just rolled up 118 combo yards on Carolina, and in two matchups last season, Sproles totaled 160 combo yards, 10 catches and a score.
Week One Analysis: Darren Sproles hit double-digit carries only three times in 18 games last season, but as a pass-catcher, he grabs more balls than John Travolta. Sproles led all backs with 86 regular season catches, and then caught 15 in New Orleans' playoff loss to San Francisco, so anything he does on the ground is gravy. Unfortunately, only one team allowed fewer catches to the position than Washington last season, and only two teams allowed fewer receiving yards. The Redskins' talented linebacker is one of the few units that stand a chance of neutralizing Sproles' unique talents.
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