RotoExperts Fantasy Mailbag: Darren Sproles Is Better Than Perceived

  • Adam Ronis,

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I am in a PPR league and passing TDs are five points. Would you keep Cam Newton or Darren Sproles to go along with Trent Richardson?

In most drafts this year, running backs are flying off the board and quarterbacks are falling. Of course, every league and draft is different, but in most instances I want to stack up the running backs early and wait on quarterbacks since the position is deep. I am one of the biggest Sproles fans and on some sites based on ADP, he’s undervalued. On, Sproles has an ADP of 27, which is fair in a PPR league. His value gets diminished slightly in a non-PPR league. I don’t think people value Sproles correctly, although it is changing in some leagues. In the average league, I believe Sproles will be a steal. He doesn’t get a lot of carries and the overall numbers don’t stand out and he’s involved in a committee with Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas. Sproles is a huge part of the Saints offense and will continue to be. He was fifth among RBs in a PPR two years ago, and 12th last season despite missing three games due to a hand injury. The downgrade in non-PPR leagues is not as stark as one would think. He was No. 11 in that format two seasons ago and No. 22 last season. Sproles rushed for 603 yards on 87 carries with two TDs and caught 86 passes for 710 yards with seven TDs two years ago, and he rushed for 244 yards on 48 carries with a TD and caught 75 passes for 667 yards with seven TDs in 13 games last season. I’d be thrilled to start my draft with Richardson and Sproles and there’s a chance you can still get Newton in the draft if you like him that much.

In a 10-team non-PPR with 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, and 1 TE, I can keep three players and lose the round from last year. I can pick three from Colin Kaepernick, Alfred Morris, David Wilson and Randall Cobb. All were free agent pickups, so I won’t lose any draft picks. Who should I keep?

Morris had a great rookie season with the Redskins with 335 carries and was second in rushing yards with 1,613 and scored 13 touchdowns. Many will say his success was tied to Robert Griffin III since the defense had to pay close attention to him, but Morris gained 1,001 yards after contact. Wilson has a ton of talent and is an explosive back. Even if he is in a timeshare with Andre Brown, who is injury prone, Wilson will play a big role for the Giants. The concern for Wilson coming out of Virginia Tech was fumbling; he fumbled in Week 1, which set him back and reduced his role. When injuries happened, Wilson got back on the field and showed he can produce with limited touches. He had 13 carries for 100 yards with two TDs in Week 14 and 15 carries for 75 yards and a 15-yard TD reception in Week 17. Even if Brown is the goal-line back, Wilson is explosive enough to score from anywhere on the field, as he displayed by leading the league in kickoff return yardage. Cobb had a breakout season last year and will see an increased role this year with the departure of Greg Jennings and the retirement of Donald Driver. Cobb didn’t even play every snap and was targeted just 112 times, yet had 80 catches for 954 yards with eight TDs to finish as a Top 20 WR. Cobb is explosive with the ball in his hands and is also a deep threat. Keep those three. While I like Kaepernick, quarterback is deep and in a 10-team league, there are so many good options at the position.

In a non-keeper, 5×5 12-team league, I’ve got Tim Hudson in three leagues. Who are the top three from Kyle Lohse, Ivan Nova, Rick Porcello, Jose Quintana, Sam Deduno, Dillon Gee, Jhoulys Chacin, and Dan Straily to replace Hudson?

While the overall numbers for the season aren’t very impressive, Gee has been excellent since late May. He was hammered for the first two months of the season with a 5.96 ERA in April and a 5.46 ERA in May. Since then, Gee has pitched 60 1/3 innings and allowed 56 hits, 17 earned runs, walked 18 and struck out 43. He has allowed two earned runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts. Nova has been excellent and is pitching too well to lose his spot in the starting rotation. He has all the skills to succeed since he gets strikeouts, limits the walks and induces a lot of groundballs. In 11 games, including eight starts, Nova has a 23.1 strikeout percentage, a 7.6 walk percentage and a 51 percent groundball percentage. Since June 23, Nova has pitched 36 1/3 innings and allowed 28 hits, 11 earned runs, walked nine and struck out 32. The last one comes down to Straily and Quintana. It is close, but I give the edge to Quintana, who has been more consistent. Quintana has improved and increased the strikeout percentage from 14.3 percent to 18.7 in 2013 and his walk percentage is seven percent. Quintana has a 3.55 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.

Is Luke Gregerson or Pedro Strop worth a speculative add for saves, and if so who would you prefer to have?

I believe both are. Not sure Huston Street gets traded, as he has not been very good, but major league teams are so enamored with experience in the closer role they may overvalue Street. Rumors are that teams are inquiring more about Gregerson, and if he is traded from the Padres it is highly unlikely he closes. There’s a good chance the Cubs trade Gregg. If that happens, Strop is likely the guy to close based on what manager Dale Sveum has been saying recently. Strop’s command has always been an issue, but he gets a lot of strikeouts and groundballs and is averaging 96.9 miles per hour with his fastball. In 8 2/3 innings with the Cubs since being acquired from the Orioles, he has allowed three hits, no runs, walked two and struck out 11. I have already added Strop in a few leagues and there’s more of a chance he winds up closing than Gregerson. Add Strop to the roster and anyone that needs saves should do the same.

All statistics entering July 26.

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