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Saquon Barkley Trades G-Men for Fly Philly Fly

Saquon Barkley is heading down the NJ Turnpike as he signs with the Eagles. Can Barkley bring the same production level in a highly talented Eagles offense?

Giant fans must feel worse than when Lebron James left Cleveland to go to South Beach. A fan favorite in running back, Saquon Barkley, has decided to leave the Big Apple after the New York Giants failed to show Barkley his worth in their organization. Barkley has signed a three-year, $37.75 million deal with the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. The deal could be worth up to $46.75 million with incentives, including $26 million guaranteed. Now that Barkley is an Eagle, can he provide the same level of elite fantasy play moving forward?

Saquon Barkley’s History

As we know, Barkley entered the league in 2018 and took it by storm with an elite season. He would have over 2,000 all-purpose yards and finish as rookie of the year. Since then, his career has been a little up and down. As we know, Barkley has missed time over his career. He would miss most of the season in 2020 with a torn ACL. That would be the best, but he has a lingering ankle injury he has dealt with over his career. He missed three games in 2019, four games in 2021, and another three games in 2023. Barkley has shown around those injuries that he can be very elite for fantasy, but the older he gets, that can be a concern in his game.

(Photo Courtesy of Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

Barkley has been the Giants’ offense for the last three seasons. He has been the leader that has kept this team somewhat competitive. In 2022, Barkley looked back in form as a runner, which was a fantastic season. He had 1,300 rushing yards and ten touchdowns and caught 57 balls that season. He seems like he was close to form in 2022.

In 2023, Barkley’s efficiency went from 4.4 YPC to 3.9. After returning from an injury in week six, he would put up solid fantasy numbers. Barkley would finish as RB10 from week six to 17. He would have ten-plus fantasy points in seven of the last 13 games. It wasn’t because of his rushing yards; he was only over 4.0 YPC in five games all season. Barkley has been effective, but his high usage has propelled his fantasy production. 

Opportunity ShareTeam Run PlaysCarriesTargetsRedzone TouchesReceptionsRushing YardsFPs Per GameTarget ShareRoutes RunEvaded TacklesBreakaway Runs
Barkley Rankings 2022 and 2023

The Eagles Offense

The Eagles’ offense has been an excellent rushing offense, but what is Barkley coming into? Since Jalen Hurts has been there, he has been the weapon for the rushing leader. In 2021, Hurts led the team in rushing yards and dominated Miles Sanders in rushing touchdowns ten to zero. In 2022, Sanders would have a career rushing yard season, but Hurts would continue to outbeat his running back with 13 to 10 rushing touchdowns.

(Photo Courtesy of Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Last season, D’Andre Swift had 1,049 rushing yards, but Hurts again dominated in rushing touchdowns 15 to five. Last year, the Eagles tush push was locked for a rushing touchdown when the Eagles got down to the goal line. That could be something that changes in 2024 due to rule changes or the recent retirement of Jason Kelce. Barkley has some more build to him being three inches taller and weighing 17 pounds more than Swift and Sanders.

A concern with Barkley is his involvement in the passing game. Hurts has not been a reliable source of targets for running backs. In the last two seasons, Hurts has targeted his primary running back 26 times in 2022 and 49 times in 2023. Barkley has averaged 66 targets over his six-year career. Even if you remove his ACL season, he would average 79.2 targets per season.

There could be concerns that Barkley isn’t among the top two options in terms of targets. He may only be the fourth option in targets in 2024 with AJ Brown, Devonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert on the team. The Eagle’s top running back last year was 31st in routes run, while Barkley was 16th in routes run. A new offensive coordinator is coming in, so we could see some changes to the offense. 

A New Offensive Coordinator

Kellen Moore comes in after a terrible season with the Chargers. In Moore’s five seasons as an OC, he was in the top 12 in attempts in three of five seasons. He was top ten in rushing yards in three seasons. In four of five seasons, his primary running back had at least 65 targets. For his rushing output, Moore has had two running backs over 100 carries in each of the last four seasons. Moore has always been a coordinator who loves to air the ball out, so a player like Barkley could line up out wide more for the offense.

The Eagles have had two 1000-yard rushers during Nick Sirianni’s tenure with the Eagles. Barkley has the talent to be the best one ever. It will be interesting to see how the team wants to use Kenneth Gainwell. They always have turned to him in third-down and two-minute situations. Gainwell could be heading for more of a backup role with the addition of Barkley to the team. We will have to wait and see, but Gainwell has always been a slight headache for the Eagles’ primary running back.

Barkley’s Dynasty Take

What do you do with Barkley in Dynasty now? The obvious situation is that he could be considered a sell-high. We know he will be 27 years old and has been time in four of his six seasons. Barkley has always been the focal point of the Giants’ offense, especially with rushing attempts and targets in the passing game. Barkley has been in the top seven in opportunity share in the offense in four of six seasons.

I don’t think Barkley will get the same situation in Philadelphia with the receivers and Hurts. His touchdown upside could be limited based on how the offense will run, and as we’ve seen, Hurts dominated rushing touchdowns for the Eagles. He also has an injury-prone ankle that could cause him to miss time. 

Barkley is an elite player, and as long as he is on the field, you have to hope he can shine in a better offense. Barkley was in a bad situation last year with the Giants, and now he gets to go with a good team in the Eagles. I think, at worst, if Barkley does what Swift did, he’ll be a low-end RB2 for fantasy, but he has an upside that he could still finish as an RB1.

If you believe that Barkley continues to be an elite player even with fewer opportunities, then you missed your chance to buy low on him. He will be expensive for fantasy owners, so you’ll have to give good assets to get him. He would have to be at least a first-round pick and second-round pick in return for his services. I’d hold or sell off right now. It was a questionable signing with all the Eagles’ needs, but this could be an offense that lights up the scoreboard if they can figure out their game plan.

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