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Fantasy Faces in New Places: Saquon Barkley

Will the move to Philadelphia unlock the world-class potential of RB Saquon Barkley? And how should savvy dynasty owners value the former Giant as he prepares for the 2nd act of his career? @Spydes78 has you covered!⬇️

We’ve reached the point in the NFL offseason when personnel movement has dropped considerably. In the post-draft environment, clubs have executed the bulk of their improvement plans, and rosters are fairly well established. 

Offseason programs and training camps will soon give reconstructed teams their first opportunities to battle and bond. Competition rules the summer, and depth charts will begin to take shape. 

Thus, this is an ideal time to reflect on the recent and tumultuous migrations of talent throughout the NFL. Having a keen awareness of the changing landscape helps you stay ahead of the fantasy game. 

Pounce on those values before they become obvious to your league mates. Dynasty Nerds is here to help!

Fuhgeddaboudit

Today, we take a look at Saquon Barkley, a player who was once regarded as the cream of the dynasty running back crop. Drafted second overall by the Giants in 2018, Barkley came into the league with the highest of expectations. And a rookie season adorned with 2,000 all-purpose yards did little to quell the enthusiasm.

However, significant injuries in both the 2020 (torn ACL) and 2021 (pedal ankle sprain) seasons forced a detour from Barkley’s promising career path. These fears were notably allayed in 2022 when he rebounded to post career highs in carries and rushing yards.

However, in his most recent campaign, Barkley again seemed to regress. In 2023, his rushing totals fell below the 1,000-yard mark, and his efficiency slipped to 3.9 yards per carry. For context, the Giants passing offense was putrid in 2023 (31st in passing yards and 28th in passing TDs). This deficiency made it easy for defenses to key in on defending Barkley in a one-dimensional attack.

Philadelphia Freedom

After being stonewalled by New York in his quest for a free-agent contract, Barkley was forced to look elsewhere for employment. He found an eager suitor just a few miles down I-95 when division rival, Philadelphia, expressed interest on the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period. A native of eastern Pennsylvania, Barkley was naturally enthusiastic about continuing his career close to family and friends. And thus, a marriage between the player and the organization was born.

Clearly, though, this move is about more than simple geography. There is considerable optimism that the Eagles’ offense can unlock Barkley’s best self. Why is Philadelphia such a great fit?

Offensive Line

Barkley will see a huge boost in the quality of blocking and execution. The Eagles’ offensive line unit consistently ranks among the NFL’s elite. In fact, despite the recent retirement of perennial All-Pro center Jason Kelce, Pro Football Network still recognized Philadelphia as the league’s top O-line heading into the 2024 season.

Contrast those marks to the guys up front in New York. Last season, when Barkley’s efficiency slipped a bit, the Giants line was ranked 29th in the league by PFF. Good blocking is a luxury that Barkley was never afforded during his six-year tenure in the Big Apple. He was forced to grind out every yard with vision, athleticism, and determination. Frankly, given his supporting cast, it’s impressive that he was as productive as he turned out to be.

People outside the Eagles organization seem to agree that the move to Philadelphia is potentially explosive. An anonymous NFL GM recently told FOX Sports: “It’s not that Barkley, or any running back, doesn’t have value. He’s a great player. Everyone knew it then, and everyone would love a guy like that on their team now. But it has to be the right team. A running back needs a good offensive line … The Giants never had that. But Barkley’s got that now.”

Scheme

There’s a new offensive philosophy in town with the addition of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. As chronicled by Bleeding Green Nation, Moore’s run game is influenced by the Shannahan scheme and has historically made rushing a focal point of his attack. He is more than content to line up in traditionally heavy sets and pound the rock when faced with a light defensive alignment.

Moore will also incorporate far more under-center concepts than the Eagles have been accustomed to. This balance is sorely needed for a Philadelphia offense that executed a league-high 85.3% of their offensive snaps out of a shotgun formation in 2023. Operating from under-center will open the possibilities for more motion (RPOs, options, play action, etc.). In turn, that deception can only help put the defense on its heels, which is an ideal scenario for a top back like Barkley.

Usage

By all accounts, the Eagles intend to use Saquon as a true three-down back. This would be a luxury that the organization has not had in years. Running backs saw a total of 1,230 snaps for Philadelphia in 2023, with D’Andre Swift taking 670 (54.5%) and Kenny Gainwell taking 461 (37.5%). Barring injury, I would expect Barkley to take on roughly 70% of the 2024 snaps, which would conservatively amount to about 800 (47 snaps per game). 

In fantasy football, it all comes down to talent and opportunity. Barkley’s talent has never been in dispute. And, if he does indeed serve as a bell cow back, seeing close to 50 snaps per game in such a dynamic offense, his potential is off the charts.

Dynasty Value

So Barkley appears to be in a situation that is far more conducive to production. But let’s take a look at how he’s performed historically and where his value currently stands with the dynasty community.

The table below, with data compliments of Fantasy Pros, shows how Barkley has fared as a fantasy asset over his last five seasons in the league. Injuries seem to be the only thing that can slow Saquon, as he has averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game (7th best in the NFL) when healthy. Even in a ‘down’ year, Barkley was still a Top 10 running back in 2023.

How is Barkley being valued by the community? Currently, Dynasty Nerds ADP has him as the seventh back off the board in startups. This is a spot-on valuation compared to his recent performance. However, if you consider the far more attractive situation in Philadelphia, as chronicled above, paying the ‘Giants price’ for Barkley suddenly looks like a real bargain.

The recent trades feature in the Dynasty Nerds GM shows that Barkley was traded straight up for Tee Higgins within the past few months. He was also dealt for a 2025 first and a 2026 second on another occasion. I would easily take the Barkley side of these trades, and I think these deals both serve as prime examples of how you may be able to take advantage of an undervaluing leaguemate.

Conclusion

After entering the league with some quite lofty expectations, Barkley’s value went nuclear after an exemplary rookie season. However, that exuberance has trailed off in recent seasons due to injuries and a subpar supporting cast in New York. 

Facing a pivotal crossroads in his career, Barkley made an offseason jump to the rival Eagles. On paper, this pairing seems a match made in heaven. Philadelphia offers a significant upgrade in offensive line play, a running back-friendly scheme, and an opportunity to shoulder the bulk of the snaps.

Barkley’s current value with the dynasty community aligns with recent production. However, this pricing fails to compensate for the boost afforded by his new surroundings. 

It may not be a significant discount, as Barkley is still regarded as a top-10 talent. However, there’s still value to be mined by paying RB7 prices for a guy with the potential to finish among the elite.

Contact your league mates now, before camp buzz has Barkley’s price on the rise. You’ll be glad you did!

In Closing…

I thoroughly enjoyed bringing you this piece and would love to continue the conversation on Saquon Barkley. Please feel free to comment below or contact me @Spydes78 on X/Twitter. Also, stay tuned to @DynastyNerds for a steady pipeline of content from our eminently qualified staff to carry you through your offseason. Enjoy the grind!

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