Saquon Barkley is one of the more talented players to come out of college football in recent years. The 5-11, 230-pound back out of Penn State is coming equipped with the skillset to be a workhorse back and win fantasy games. It has become increasingly necessary in the NFL for running backs to catch the ball out of the backfield. Barkley possesses that ability and is incredibly talented as a ballcarrier. Of course, Saquon Barkley is also more than efficient between the tackles. The guy is a tank (ever see the video of him power-cleaning 405 pounds??) and explodes through holes in the defensive line. One of the few drawbacks to his game, however, is that he doesn’t always use his power and strength efficiently, and often gets tackled fairly easily.
Disclaimer: by “for and against,” I’m not saying, “do or don’t draft Saquon Barkley.” I am saying, however, that you should understand why drafting him on your fantasy team could work or could not work.
Saquon Barkley will most likely be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. We’ve seen teams take runningbacks high in previous drafts. In the 2016 draft, the Cowboys took Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th overall pick. Even just last season, the Jaguars took Leonard Fournette 4th overall and the Panthers took Christian McCaffrey 8th overall. It’s not completely unheard of for a team to take a runningback early in the draft, especially one with special talent.
In fantasy football, you’re after one thing when it comes to choosing players: volume. The more your player gets the ball, the more likely they are to score you points. Saquon Barkley is a very intriguing case. He is so talented that, if given a proper opportunity, he could score you points on top of points with very few chances. Because of his talent, he is likely to be the focal point of the offense that drafts him, which will give him that sweet, sweet volume.
The only factor that really determines Barkley’s true worth is where he gets drafted (which makes my job easy!). Let’s review the perfect team for a runningback:
- Good offensive line
- Good play calling
- An offense that won’t be playing from behind often (need for scoring = passing, not running)
- At least a decent passing game (keep defenses from “stacking the box” against running games)
The Case FOR Drafting Saquon Barkley
As I (in addition to every college football analyst ever given a microphone) mentioned earlier, Saquon Barkley is a phenomenal talent. That, in a nutshell, is the argument for drafting Saquon Barkley: he is just that talented. Even if Barkley goes to a bad team and doesn’t get many chances, his talent could even the scale. Kind of short and sweet, but the football world is paying attention to this guy simply because he is a beast. If he wasn’t talented, nobody would care.
The Case AGAINST Drafting Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley likely won’t be available past the top ten picks, especially given the amount of teams that need a good runningback and have one of those picks. Unfortunately for Saquon Barkley, those teams have bad offenses that haven’t yielded productive running games as of late. There are two teams who are most likely to take Barkley: the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants.
Both teams are in dire need of a talented runningback (among many other things) and would likely take Barkley in a heartbeat. The Browns have the first and fourth overall picks. That means that Cleveland could snag the best player in the draft in addition to fulfilling their restless desire to grab yet another quarterback in the first round. This would be bad news more than it would be good news for Barkley. The Browns are always playing from behind in games and, therefore, rarely are able to run the ball efficiently.
If, and that’s a big if, the Browns don’t take Barkley with the first overall, the Giants are right there at No. 2 and also need a running back. Barkley would likely be a better fit in New York than Cleveland. The Giants at least have a passing game to take pressure off the running game and keep them in games enough to run the ball.
All in all, I’d love to have Saquon Barkley on all of my fantasy teams for the right price. I know it’s a cop-out answer, but it’s absolutely true. I would not take Barkley at his current second-round ADP over names like Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, or other backs who have proven that they fit in their offenses and have succeeded in fantasy before. Saquon Barkley is hands-down the best and most talented player in the 2018 NFL draft class, but which team he gets drafted by will, more or less, determine his production and true value.