One question in drafts is what to do with Saquon Barkley- should you draft or fade him? Barkley entered the league in as a generational talent, but after a strong rookie season, he has struggled to make the same impact on the field.
Struggles in 2021
Going into 2021, Barkley had the stink of injury over him. After suffered a torn ACL in 2020, there were concerns over the longterm impact on his production.
After struggling in the opening weeks, he was more involved in the passing game, but struggled on the ground. There were signs at least that he was over his injury and was going to repay those who took him in drafts. Then, in Week 5, his season started it’s decline. After standing on a defenders foot, he sprained his ankle and missed the next month of action. Barkley was then only able to play two games with Daniel Jones. During which, he had five or more targets.
So, in reality, the first half of the season’s struggle you could attribute to Barkley. The second half, really, comes down to the fact that the Giants offense (and season) was looking forward to the next season. The combination of Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm were throwing the ball, something that no-one wants for fantasy.
With the ACL injury combined with the time missed in the season are going to give people pause. The reason- injury proneness. Let’s look at the history of Barkley’s injuries:
- Hamstring Injury (Preseason 2018)
- High ankle sprain (Week 3 2019)
- ACL Tear (Week 2 2020)
- Low-ankle sprain (Week 5 2021)
Two sprains, and an ACL tear? They really aren’t linked. A great example of a player that was labelled as injury-prone that really wasn’t- Keenan Allen. Allen suffered two season-ending injuries in back-to-back seasons. Immediately slapped with the ‘injury prone’ tag. Was he? Nope. Since then, he hasn’t missed a game through injury.
So, hopefully, you can somewhat squash the ‘injury-prone’ moniker.
Outlook for 2022
There is no denying that Barkley has previously struggled, but as with everything in the NFL- things change. Taking a look at each element of those changes for 2022:
The Giants offensive line was poor last season. It was poor the season before. Truly, it’s been a bit of a train wreck since Barkley was in the league. This season though, the team has attempted to put things back on track.
The team brought in Mark Glowinski, Jon Feliciano, Jamil Douglas, Max Garcia and Matt Gono during free-agnecy as well as selecting Evan Neal (1st round) and Joshua Ezeudu (3rd round) in the draft.
Impact on Barkley
The offensive line being even marginally better is going to mean a big improvement in performance. Last season, Barkley managed 0.6 yards before contact. With the other players on the depth chart, Barkley is going to get the volume.
Injuries happen in the NFL. If Barkley, or indeed any top selection gets injured, misses time then your team is going to suffer. But, his ADP is so low for a player that is going to get the workload that he is likely to be given.
All of the injury risk is baked into his price, so it comes down to whether you can trust the talent and situation. Has Barkley become less talented? I’d say no, but even if you wanted to argue that he has, he is still an above average player. The situation might be less than ideal, but the signs of improvement are there with improved play-calling and protection.
With his involvement in the passing game likely to remain, you are able to get a potential RB1 for an RB2 price. You can’t pass that up. His current ADP on Sleeper redraft leagues is 22 selection, so right on the round 2/3 turn. If you combined him with a back like Jonathan Taylor, you are off to a great start in your drafts.