NFL Network’s Adam Schefter reports that the San Diego Chargers have placed their franchise tag on RB Darren Sproles.
The move almost ensures that Sproles will return to the team next season. It also points to a potential backfield committee with LaDainian Tomlinson, who will be 30 this year and showed signs of wear and tear in what was a disappointing 2008 campaign.
Sproles is explosive and a proven playmaker, which he showed late last season in consecutive games against the Broncos and Colts. In those two contests, he posted a combined seven receptions, 282 yards from scrimmage and four total touchdowns.
However, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Sproles would ever become a featured back at the NFL level based on his lack of size (5-foot-6, 181 pounds).
Instead, Sproles will share some of the workload with Tomlinson and serve as a top-notch handcuff for fantasy leaguers.
Of course, the fact that the Chargers franchised Sproles doesn’t mean the team won’t select their running back of the future in the NFL Draft. In fact, NFL.com’s Steve Wyche believes the team will take Georgia’s Knowshown Morneno with the 16th overall selection.
As it stands, Tomlinson remains the top fantasy back on the team and is worth a second-round selection. Sproles is the clear fantasy handcuff for Tomlinson, but he’s also a viable flex starter in leagues that reward points for return yards and touchdowns.
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