Week 3 Mailbag: Valuing Sproles, McGahee

Wednesday is my chat day on ESPN.com, so before you check out the 3 p.m. ET session, here are a few e-mails to get you started. I get to substantially more questions in the chat than I have room for in this forum. If you've got something to say, go for it.

Dain (DeKalb, Ill.): "I don't understand why you weren't high on Darren Sproles for Week 2. He nearly outperformed LaDainian Tomlinson while LT was starting. Sproles was the reason this team was on a roll last year. How much more proof do you need? He is a winner. He always puts up highlight-reel stuff and LT is the bust here. He can't stay on the field."

Eric: I'll grant you that Tomlinson's health is a concern, but I don't think there's any question who the starting running back is when both of these guys are playing. In Week 1, Tomlinson was the one getting the touches until the fourth quarter; Sproles got six of his 14 touches on the final two drives, including his touchdown, only after Tomlinson limped off the field because of a sprained ankle. As for Week 2, the news that Tomlinson would miss the game came out late Friday, and I wrote beforehand that I didn't think Sproles was a great play against a good Ravens defense because he's more of a Reggie Bush type and won't pick up a lot of rushing yards. Well, even with LT out, it turned out Sproles did do what Bush does, including turning a screen pass into a long touchdown early in the game. Later in the game, of course, he got stuffed on a key fourth-and-2 in the Chargers' loss. I think Sproles has a future as a difference-making receiver out of the backfield, a change-of-pace guy, but the Chargers aren't starting him when Tomlinson is healthy. When Tomlinson is out, I'm going to rank Sproles better, but not as high as I would Tomlinson. Highlight-reel stuff is one thing, but let's see some consistent production.

Andrew (Bronx, N.Y.): "I can start two running backs in my 12-team PPR league, and my plan has been to slot in Ryan Grant and Ray Rice most of the time. I also have Willis McGahee as a handcuff, but the guy has been outperforming both of my starters. I'm more disappointed in Grant than in Rice. Would I be out of line starting both Rice and McGahee in Week 3 versus the Browns, even though Grant plays St. Louis?"

Eric: I don't think you'd be out of line at all, because McGahee has been the most productive of this trio. We project a big game for McGahee this week, with more than 100 yards and a touchdown. Don't worry about who starts. Each week there are reserve running backs, the Ahmad Bradshaw types, whom I rank over starters such as Julius Jones and Rice. And in this case, I'd play McGahee and Grant. I think that with Grant you have to realize he's going to get a steady stream of carries, and he's the goal-line option for the Packers. Grant has scored each of the first two weeks, so it's not like he's hurting his fantasy teams. For now, though, Rice is your third option.