A torn ACL along with a broken arm will force Darren Sproles to miss the entire 2017 season. Wendell Smallwood was already a waiver wire priority, but the news makes him a must-add in all leagues.
Smallwood had already carved out a role for himself, and now should take over Sproles’ role. During Week 3, Smallwood had 12 carries for 71 yards along with a reception. He ended the day with a solid 8 fantasy points in standard leagues.
Where Smallwood really can shine is in the passing game, and fans can expect to see his usage go up in passing down situations with Sproles sidelined. Smallwood hails from West Virginia. In his final year with the Mountaineers, Smallwood rushed for 1,519 yards and nine touchdowns. He also had 26 receptions for 160 yards. During his sophomore season, Smallwood had 326 receiving yards.
It is not all smooth sailing for Smallwood going forward. He will have to compete with LeGarrette Blount for carries. After Blount received zero carries in Week 2, he had 14 rushes for 46 yards in Week 3. However, Blount averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. The opportunity is there for Smallwood to be the lead back if his performance demands it.
Smallwood will become especially useful in PPR leagues. During his rookie year, Smallwood played in 13 games and rushed for 312 yards. He had limited opportunities to excel in most games with less than five carries in eight games.
Here’s how USA Today’s Jonah Tuls described Smallwood coming out of West Virginia.
On tape, Smallwood showed his agility and quickness to explode through the hole, but also had the speed to take it to the house if given an ounce of daylight. To take advantage of this quickness, he has the vision to find the seam and exploit it at the first chance he gets. His ability to take on contact is inconsistent as he will go down to occasional arm tackles, but he is always keeping his legs churning for extra yards that the average running back would not get. In addition, he is a key asset on third down in that he will put himself in position to succeed in pass protection with his quick eyes to scan and identify pressure, but is also able to sit in the soft spot of the zone and catch the football with consistent, reliable hands.