What has been a rough season for the New Orleans Saints just got a little tougher. On Friday, interim head coach Joe Vitt announced that the club will be without running back Darren Sproles indefinitely after Sproles underwent surgery to repair a broken hand and no timetable has yet been established for his return to the lineup.
Sproles, who is second on the team with 39 receptions and four touchdowns, set the NFL record for all-purpose yards last season and acts as a multiple-dimension weapon and return specialist for New Orleans’ fearsome offense.
The main benefactor of Sproles’ absence from the lineup should be the team’s current leading rusher, Pierre Thomas. Thomas is an excellent pass-catcher who has the added benefit of being bigger and more rugged than the diminutive Sproles, while being a good red-zone and short-yardage option.
It is also expected that disappointing second-year runner Mark Ingram should see an increased role, perhaps spelling Thomas on first and second downs and possibly taking the majority of short-yardage work.
It is also expected that the Saints will activate Chris Ivory as the third running back. Ivory is a bruiser who has shown deceptive speed and been able to produce when given the opportunities.
Fantasy Factor: Pierre Thomas should now be owned in all fantasy leagues. If he is on your waiver-wire, go grab him now and feel free to start him this week, as the Saints host a Monday Night Football game. It’s still too early to assume that Mark Ingram or Chris Ivory will see a sudden increase in value, but alert owners should monitor the situation. Keep a close eye on how the short-yardage carries are distributed.