Saquon Barkley is going to be an interesting case in fantasy leagues this season. No one disputes the talent, but he's been an injury-prone disappointment his last two seasons. With a new coaching staff and offseason to rest up, can he deliver strong numbers?
There doesn't seem to be a lot of optimism. In the Experts Draft last week, he was the 15th running back selected, in the middle of the 3rd round. That's not terrible, but it's around other starting running backs with questions (Ezekiel Elliott, Cam Akers). Similarly in the Auction, he was the 13th-highest priced running back.
If you select Barkley, it's probably not with the expectation he's going to be cranking out 100-yard rushing performances and lots of short touchdowns. The Giants have a new coaching staff and some skill guys of note, but this still looks like a rebuilding team that will lose more than it wins. Mediocre offensive line, questionable quarterback, and Barkley himself needs to prove he can stay healthy.
It's for his receiving potential that he carries some interest. Not to catch 91 passes, as he did as a rookie, perhaps, but to be one of the league's busier backs in that regard. A story in The Athletic last week theorized that Barkley would catch a ton of passes in Brian Daboll's new offense. Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and Matt Breida combined to catch 70 last season, and Barkley should be more of a full-time guy. Certainly, he's been productive thus far in his career, when available.
During his four seasons in the league, Barkley is one of 48 running backs to see at least 100 targets in the passing game. With him missing a good chunk of games, for him it's worked out to nearly 6 targets per contest. That's more than all but four other players.
|RUNNING BACK TARGETS, 2018-2021|
|Ronald Jones II||55||104||76||571||1||1.9|
Assuming a PPR format, and if you're comfortable thinking Barkley should be available for most of the season, good chance he's a solid starter this year, due to that receiving involvement. Availability and opportunity count for a lot. But if you'd rather invest in a player that hasn't missed 3, 14 and 4 games the last three seasons, best to stay away.