Having come off serious injuries the past two seasons, Saquon Barkley does not have the same hype around him as he did coming out of Penn State. Regarded as a mixture of Adrian Peterson, Barry Sanders, and Walter Payton, Barkley certainly proved the draft experts right by winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2018. Saquon is 6’0”, 233 lbs, ran a 4.4 40 yard dash, and benched 225 lbs 29 times. So yeah, this guy is borderline unstoppable. It’s like if Bo Jackson from Techmo Bowl was a real player. However, a high ankle sprain in the 2019 season and a torn ACL in the 2020 season have slowed the Lamborghini of the Giants offense. When healthy, Barkley is at the top of the runningback kingdom with the likes of Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. Teams around the league revere him for his ability to run over, around, and through any defender. This is a big year for Barkley as his rookie contract is made after this season, so “The Quadfather” will look to put up mega numbers and prove to the rest of the NFL that he still has his game-breaking talent.
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Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in his second game of the season against the Chicago Bears. That’s the only reason his numbers are so low. His first game against the Steelers was not very productive, as he logged 6 rushing yards on 15 carries and 60 receiving yards on 6 catches, but that was more because the Giants’ passing attack was weak, so the Steelers were more focused on stuffing Saquon. Then Saquon left in the second quarter of the game against the Bears, where he did rush for 28 yards on 4 carries, so he was not given the opportunities to put up big numbers for that game or the rest of the season. The 2020 season is one to forget if you’re a Saquon Barkley owner but this upcoming season 2021 is one to get excited for if you’re a Giants fan.
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With almost a full year to recover from an ACL tear, Saquon should return to his true form. He plays like a Madden glitch or, as someone from the booth, is using a controller to control his movements. He can put any defender on skates, run over defenders by hitting the whole hard, and has the breakaway speed to run from any chase down defender, except maybe D.K. Metcalf. He also great hands, and the Giants like to utilize him in the screen game. Saquon can do anything on the football field and is the ultimate gadget player for a Giants’ offense that desperately missed his presence.
ADP & Auction Value
ADP: 5, RB5, Round 1
Auction Value: $44
Barkley is slotted as one of the top running backs in the game for the 2021 season. He is projected to go after consensus top-tier backs in Christians McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, and Derrick Henry. After that, there is some debate about who should be selected as Barkley, Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor, Aaron Jones, and Ezekiel Elliot are all worthy of the 5th overall pick. I’d say Barkley should be the 5th pick because of his use in the passing game. Barkley operates a lot like Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey in that both teams put their talented running backs all over the field to put them in better positions to run and catch the ball. Barkley is ready to explode this upcoming season, and the draft experts have him ranked very high in the draft, which makes sense given his insane athleticism.
Barkley’s floor is directly correlated to his health. If Barkley is healthy for most of the season, then he should be among the league leader in fantasy points and rushing yards. If he reaggravates his ankle injury or tweaks his knee, then he simply won’t produce. I don’t want to claim that Barkley is injury prone because his two injuries were pretty freaky and unlucky if you watch them for a second time. Still, if he misses a substantial amount of games this season, then he will be labeled as injury-prone and should be avoided in future fantasy drafts.
There are not enough adjectives to describe how good Barkley is if he is healthy. Barkley is a WOW. Did you see that play player? He’s been making spectacular plays since college, and he’s showing why he was the #2 overall pick in the 2018 draft since. Saquon has been electrifying the league since day 1 with his razzle-dazzle ability, fancy footwork, superman strength, and blazing speed. He should be one of the top 5 running backs in fantasy for the 2021 season.
New York Giants Offense
The Giants have a newly revamped offense that should be able to score with anyone. The G-men were an abysmal 31st in total offense last season and only scored 17.5 points per game, which only beat out their fellow New York team in the Jets. However, they get their workhorse back in Saquon Barkley from injury, and GM Dave Gettleman was busy this offseason by signing the jewel of the wide receiver free agency market in Kenny Golladay and drafting super shifty wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round. The Giants have also been slowly rebuilding their offensive line over previous drafts and have improved it from the one that got Eli Manning killed into one where Daniel Jones has time to throw, and Saquon has room to run. Speaking of Daniel Jones, this is his prove-it year. Jones is now in his third season as Giants quarterback and, for the first time, has weapons around him. The Giants ranked 28th in passing offense last year and 18th in rushing offense. Still, both should improve dramatically if Daniel Jones stops turning over the ball and progresses into the #6 overall draft selection the Giants think he can be.
Strength of Schedule
The Giants have the 7th easiest schedule in the NFL. That makes sense as the NFC East was laughably bad last season, as no team finished over .500 in that division. This year the Giants have to play the NFC South and AFC West along with games being played against the Rams, Chargers, Dolphins, and Bears. Their hardest games are the ones against the two teams that were in the Super Bowl last season, the Buccaneers and Chiefs, as well as games against Super Bowl hopefuls in the Rams. Their games against teams hoping to make playoff pushes in the Dolphins, Bears, Raiders, and Saints are also going to be difficult for the Giants to win. If the Giants want to make a playoff run, they will need to beat teams that are around the same skill level or teams that they are supposed to beat. That means they will have to beat every other team in their division, as well as the Panthers, Broncos, Chargers, and Falcons. The Giants certainly have the defense necessary to win the NFC East. Still, they will need major contributions from Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Evan Engram if they want to guarantee their spot in the playoffs.