After going down in the second quarter with what appeared to be a knee injury it was later announced that Darren Sproles had, in fact, injured his wrist and was ruled out of the remainder of Sunday’s game against the Giants. I swear I’m not the only person who thought it was a knee injury.
Darren Sproles holding knee/leg after taking a shot at end of 1-yard loss. Screamed out in pain. Down on ground, training staff out.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) September 24, 2017
Regardless if it was a knee, as initially believed, or a wrist injury, which was confirmed later, Sproles left the game injured and was unable to return. Ian Rapoport is reporting that the injury is actually a broken arm.
#Eagles RB Darren Sproles is believed to have suffered a broken arm, sources say. MRI Monday to learn additional details. Out indefinitely
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 25, 2017
Darren Sproles is a future Hall of Famer in part due to his long and distinguished punt returning duties. With Sproles out of the game, Torrey Smith returned one punt for 9 yards. With Sproles likely to miss significant time, practice this week will help determine whether Smith would continue those duties.
Wendell Smallwood is the Eagles primary kick returner, though Corey Clement also handled one return on Sunday. Again, we’ll need to see practice reports to determine who would assume those full-time duties next week. It’s reasonable to conclude that if Smallwood is pulled off kick returns, he is the one for one replacement for Sproles on offense.
After two weeks of not utilizing the running backs, the Eagles ran the ball 39 times on Sunday, 33 times by the running backs. LeGarrette Blount 67 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, along with Wendell Smallwood 12 carries for 71 yards led the rushing attack on Sunday. Corey Clement also had 6 carries, for 22 yards and 1 touchdown.
All the running backs played well. Blount ran hard and with purpose. Smallwood waited on his blocks and found the holes, Clement also waited for his blocks and saw the field a good amount in the 4th quarter. If Sproles misses a significant amount of time, it will have little to no impact on Blount. Blount is the sledgehammer, and he’ll continue in that role.
Smallwood saw more work than Clement going into Sunday and continued to do so on Sunday. Based on his receiving prowess in college Smallwood would presumably slide into the Sproles role in this offense. The caveat being that the Eagles haven’t used Smallwood much in the passing game thus far in his career. Through the first 16 games of Smallwood’s career, he has only accounted for 9 receptions.
Though Carson Wentz seems to like to target the running backs, 115 in 2016, the vast majority of those targets, 62%, went to Sproles. It’s difficult to say if Smallwood can expect the same type of passing game usage. Smallwood is not the caliber of receiving threat out of the backfield that Sproles is. Admittedly few running backs are. Without those receptions, Smallwood is tough to recommend as a start going forward. His touchdown upside is limited to hoping he breaks a long run because anything inside the 10-yard line is going to Blount and perhaps Clement. I’d part with a rookie 3rd or 4th for Smallwood, but not much more than that. If you already own Smallwood you have to hold onto him. Opportunity is the invention of fantasy success or something like that.
If Clement is available on your wire, I’d suggest you pick him up. Should anything happen to Blount, Clement would pick up the goal line duties.
Thanks for reading. You can find me on Twitter @DFF_Shane.