As the 2019 fantasy football season nears, it's time to examine players who could make or break your fantasy team. Here's a look at New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and his fantasy outlook for the season ahead.
Barkley seemed to hit the opposite of a “rookie wall” last year. He averaged 13.9 carries and 4.7 yards per rush over the first eight games, then 18.8 carries and 5.3 yards per rush over the final eight. Odell Beckham Jr.’s departure figures to hurt offensive productivity overall, but it only makes Barkley more important. He led the league in market share of carries last year and ranked third among running backs in market share of targets. Look for repeats in both categories.
Size: 6'0", 233
Bye Week: 11
Barkley overcame a lackluster Giants offense last year and should be able to do so again. It’ll be surprising if he doesn’t reach 350 touches.
Should Barkley Be the Top Fantasy Pick?
While taking a running back with the first overall pick is often a gamble, Barkley is the best bet among the top backs. Ezekiel Elliott is another option, and it’s a toss-up as to which back has the best outlook. The Giants have an offense that will revolve around Barkley now that Odell Beckham Jr. is gone. Eli Manning still can’t throw the ball (and could be replaced by first-round pick Daniel Jones sooner rather than later), so Barkley will be involved in the passing game and the running game. No other running backs are in the picture for the Giants. Barkley is a tough runner and proved to be durable with 261 carries and 91 receptions in his rookie season. He had 1,307 rushing yards, 721 receiving yards and 15 total TDs. With no real downfield options and uncertainty under center, the Giants are going to feed Barkley early and often. Even with the likelihood of facing stacked boxes, Barkley still has the tools and the potential to be a top-tier back in 2019. — Sarah Lewis, AthlonSports.com fantasy contributor
With all the question marks hanging over Todd Gurley after his playoff performance (or rather the lack of one), it is difficult for me to place him as the top target for 2019 drafts. I think he can easily reclaim the title, but for this year I am going with the second-year phenom, Barkley. Matching the 2,000 total yards in 2018 as the focal point of the offense is a given if he remains healthy. The loss of Odell Beckham Jr. concerns me a bit, but not enough to bump Barkley from the No. 1 spot. — Chris Meyers, AthlonSports.com fantasy contributor
Sure, it’s tempting to consider Ezekiel Elliott — last year’s leader in rushing yards (1,434) — or even last season’s TD leader Todd Gurley (with 21). But Barkley checks every box. He’s not splitting time in the backfield. At 22, he’s only in his second NFL season with fresh legs and a bulldozer-like build that should keep him healthy. Furthermore, he’s the Giants’ only real playmaker. In 2018, he had 1,307 rushing yards and tacked on 721 more receiving. And yes, a frightened Eli Manning, who targeted Barkley 121 times last year (second only to Odell Beckham Jr., who’s in Cleveland now), should continue dumping it off to Barkley with great regularity. The same will also hold true if rookie Daniel Jones gets his shot. As for the fantasy Holy Grail — touchdowns — there’s no reason the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year can’t top last year’s 15. Trust me, Barkley is as close to a sure thing as you’re ever going to get. — Rich McVey, Athlon Sports
Season Projections for 2019
280 carries, 1,344 yards, 9 rushing TDs; 87 receptions, 687 yards, 3 receiving TDs