NFL

Fantasy Football: It's Never Been Easier to Draft Saquon Barkley

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD

Following a six-year stint with the New York Giants, Saquon Barkley has moved on from the Big Apple.

The 27-year-old back signed with the Philadelphia Eagles this off-season, and that raises several question marks around his 2024 fantasy profile. But that's baked into his average draft position (ADP) -- one that's lower than ever.

If you've ever wanted to draft Barkley in fantasy football but haven't pulled the trigger due to his lofty ADPs, this season is looking like your best chance yet. Is there enough upside in Philly to warrant an early-round pick?

Saquon Barkley Fantasy Football Outlook

Barkley's ADP Dip

Take July average draft position (ADP) data with a grain of salt, but 2024 is shaping up to be Barkley's lowest ADP in seven seasons.

Year
ADP
Pos.
20186.5RB6
20191RB1
20202RB2
202110.3RB9
202216.5RB11
20238.7RB5
202417RB6

According to FantasyPros' consensus half-PPR ADP, Barkley is currently being drafted at pick 17.

In seven years with Barkley in the player pool, this is just the second time he's being drafted (on average) outside of the first round in standard 12-team, half-PPR leagues.

The last time that happened?

It was 2022 -- when Barkley's ADP was 16.5 before he went on to score 255.5 fantasy points, sixth among running backs and 12th among all non-quarterbacks.

But that previous dip in ADP was warranted after he was limited to 13 games and finished as the RB33 in 2021.

This year, things are more complicated -- though it's hard to blame Saquon's 2024 ADP drop on last season's performance.

Barkley's 2023 Season

Barkley wasn't a league-winner in 2023, but he was more than serviceable when healthy.

Though he appeared in only 14 games, Saquon averaged 14.5 fantasy points per game -- good for ninth among running backs. He finished as the RB12 overall.

Barkley has now finished as a top-12 running back in four of five seasons in which he played at least 10 games.

Still, his efficiency left a lot to be desired. Saquon averaged just 3.9 yards per carry with a 40.1% rushing success rate -- both his second-worst marks across his five healthy seasons.

But it wasn't all bad, and it's hard to pin the lackluster efficiency on Barkley alone considering New York had PFF's 30th-ranked offensive line.

Even with that, he finished as a top-12 weekly running back seven times while recording double-digit fantasy points in 9 of 14 games.

He cracked double-digit touchdowns for the second straight year despite the Giants averaging the third-fewest offensive touchdowns per game (1.5). Of the 12 running backs who averaged at least 14 fantasy points per game, Barkley and Breece Hall were the only two whose team put up fewer than 2.0 offensive touchdowns per game.

A lack of scoring chances shouldn't be a problem this season. The Eagles averaged the eighth-most offensive touchdowns (2.6) in 2023.

How Does Barkley Fit in Philly?

Barkley's fit in Philadelphia is complicated, mainly because we haven't seen running backs consistently produce high-end fantasy seasons since Jalen Hurts took over as quarterback.

In three full seasons with Hurts under center, Philly's lead back finished as the RB42 (Miles Sanders), RB13 (Sanders), and RB24 (D'Andre Swift) in fantasy points per game. Sanders' 2021 season was the only time an Eagles running back cracked a 10% target share over that span.

Hurts, meanwhile, has run for at least 600 yards and punched in 10 touchdowns in each of the three years he's been a starter. But Swift still saw 2.4 red zone rush attempts per game last season, tied for 19th in the league and just 0.6 fewer than Barkley.

So, while running back production hasn't always been there for the Eagles' backfield with Hurts at the helm, it hasn't necessarily been due to a lack of opportunities.

Philly finished with PFF's top-ranked offensive line in 2023, and they enter 2024 ranked second.

That helped Swift average 2.8 yards before contact per attempt (YBC/Att) last season, and it aided Sanders in putting up at least 3.0 YBC/Att the three years prior.

Meanwhile, Barkley's career-high in YBC/Att is 2.5, and he's cracked 2.0 only twice in six seasons. It's not hard to envision a world where Saquon takes off while playing behind the best offensive line of his career.

While Barkley's receptions may dip with Hurts under center, this offense as supported a pair of RB2s the last two seasons -- neither of whom have the pedigree (or contract) of Saquon.

Saquon Barkley Fantasy Football Projection

numberFire's NFL projections peg Barkley for 1,237 rushing yards and 8.7 rushing touchdowns to go along with 56 receptions, 347 receiving yards, and 2.8 receiving touchdowns across a 17-game season.

That comes out to 253.2 fantasy points, 5th among backs and 10th among non-quarterbacks, according to numberFire.

Those projections line up with Barkley's RB6 ADP. He's even more coveted in FanDuel's best-ball drafts, rising to RB4.

While there's certainly some legit concern about Barkley's involvement in the passing game and around the goal line, he's also getting a serious offensive line upgrade and should see plenty of positive game scripts. That gives him as safe of a floor as any back, even if there may not be league-winning upside.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.