Three and out: There’s value to Sproles with Saints

Time for our fantasy takes on the NFL news of the day …

Sproles heads to the Big Easy: The Saints didn’t wait long to replace Reggie Bush, right? The addition of Darren Sproles, who you can argue is a better and more durable version of Bush, is going to make Sean Payton‘s offense even more dynamic. A PPR machine, Sproles could be as much as a flex starter in such formats. He’s more of a late-round option in standard leagues. His presence is bad news for Pierre Thomas, who would have seen more work behind Mark Ingram but is now destined to see fewer touches. As for the rookie, I don’t see his value taking a major hit. To me, he’s still the favorite to start and will see plenty of work in 2011.

Crabtree to miss several weeks: For the third time in three years, Michael Crabtree is going to miss the entire preseason — this time it’s because of an injured foot that will land him on the PUP list. He underwent surgery to correct a stress fracture in his left foot in 2009, and it’s believed that he re-injured the foot in June during the first day of player-run workouts. This is clearly bad news for Crabtree, who would have been a nice fantasy sleeper otherwise entering his third NFL season. He’s still going to be worth a roll of the dice in the middle to late rounds, but this foot ailment is clearly going to put a dent into Crabtree’s draft stock so it’s important to monitor his status.

Concern over Antonio Gates?: Ask anyone who the top tight end in fantasy football is, and Gates is likely to be the answer. But is it time to be worried about the talented veteran? Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune said on his Twitter page that Gates’ “plantar fasciitis remains an issue”. That raises a red flag at this point, especially when you consider that he’s had an entire offseason to heal. I’m not saying that you should drop Gates on your player rankings, but fantasy leaguers do need to monitor his status in the weeks to come.

Extra points:

  • The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms with Roy Williams, who will be re-united with OC Mike Martz. Williams had his best season under Martz as a member of the Lions in 2006, catching 82 passes for 1,310 yards with seven touchdowns. While I doubt that he’ll reach those totals again, Williams can be a nice option in the offense for Jay Cutler and is now back on the fantasy radar.
  • The Bears not only added Williams, but also traded Greg Olsen to the Panthers. It’s a curious move on the surface when you consider the team added Jeremy Shockey before the lockout, but Olsen is the better fantasy option. He was all but neutered in Martz’s offense, but Olsen will now be a regular pass catcher in Carolina and has late-round value in drafts as a No. 2 option.
  • According to reports, the Browns have added Brandon Jackson to a backfield that’s already crowded with Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty in the mix. Jackson will be third on the depth chart, serving as a third-down and change-of-pace back, and will have little value in fantasy drafts. But his addition is just another reason to doubt that Hillis will duplicate his 2010 numbers again.

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