NFL Offensive Player of the Year Betting: Saquon Barkley Is Back

Gabriel Santiago
Gabriel Santiago@gps_onthemic
NFL Offensive Player of the Year Betting: Saquon Barkley Is Back

Saquon Barkley has had a tumultuous NFL career to date, but the New York Giants running back regularly showcases undeniable X-factor traits.

There was a time not so long ago that Barkley was thought of as the second coming of Hall-of-Fame tailback Barry Sanders. Undoubtedly, there are resemblances between their respective games, but Barkley has endured a myriad of lower body injuries of devastating nature (ACL, MCL, ankle etc.).

Still, Saquon matched his own personal record from his rookie year in games played with 16 last season. Can the former All-American from Penn State continue to build momentum and regain true form in 2023?

The AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds at FanDuel Sportsbook have Barkley at +3500 for the upcoming campaign, leaving him tied with Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow and fellow running back Derrick Henry for the 16th-best odds in the market. Ja'Marr Chase (+1200) is the OPOY favorite. In terms of halfbacks, Christian McCaffrey has the best OPOY odds in the coming year at +1600.

Let's have a look at Barkley's OPOY case for 2023.

All NFL odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

How Running Backs Win OPOY

In the common era, the OPOY award has started to morph into the MVP for non-quarterbacks on offense; Running backs and wide receivers are not skipped over for OPOY the way they are for MVP.

Since 2009, running backs have cashed the OPOY market in five separate seasons. Most recently, the aforementioned "King" Henry earned the accolade in 2020 after bulldozing his way to 17 touchdowns and north of 2,000 rushing yards -- no light day at the office.

In 2017, Todd Gurley was the do-it-all player out of the backfield for Sean McVay's offense. His numbers on the ground were good (279 carries, 1,309 yards and 13 touchdowns), but the added receiving figures put Gurley at 2,093 scrimmage yards with 19 total scores.

The other somewhat recent OPOY winners at the tailback spot have been DeMarco Murray (2014), Adrian Peterson (2012) and Chris Johnson (2009) -- every player noted here gained more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage to do it.

Barkley does have the sort of talent that could result in production near that level. His explosive athleticism and strength (4.4 40-yard dash, 41-inch vertical leap, 29 bench press reps at the 2018 NFL Combine) allowed him to go over 2,000 total yards as a rookie in the NFL -- a feat only Saquon, Edgerrin James and Eric Dickerson have accomplished.

Empire State Of Mind

Fortunately for residents of the Big Apple, Barkley is returning from his best season since his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Last year, he had double-digit touchdown producition for the first time since 2018 and produced a total of 1,650 offensive yards. If not for sitting out the final game of 2022, he likely would have further inflated his numbers. Barkley finished third in the voting for the 2022-23 AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

One vital aspect in Barkley's favor this season is the improvement of Big Blue's offensive identity. Signal-caller Daniel Jones had a career year in 2022 under debut head coach Brian Daboll and proved himself as a quality rusher from the quarterback spot. That added element can help widen running lanes for Barkley, especially as the two players further develop cohesion in the read-option.

Also, dynamic tight end Darren Waller is now a part of the offense after being acquired from the Las Vegas Raiders. Waller's ability to stretch the field could also make Barkley's life easier.

Keep in mind: as it is now, Barkley will be playing on a non-exclusive franchise tag in 2023. That may give him added motivation to show the entire league his true value. This also comes on the heels of his quarterback -- Jones -- getting comfortably paid after Barkley had the fourth most rushing yards (1,312) in the NFL.

Saquon Barkley's Outlook

Considering the abilities Barkley has shown when healthy, he presents solid value in the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year market. Despite an awkward contract situation, Barkley appears physically primed for the start of the 2023 season.

Running backs have had success in recent years in the OPOY conversation. It would likely require an effort greater than 2,000 all-purpose yards, but Barkley has produced numbers like that in the NFL before.

On offense, the Giants should be more potent in 2023. Barkley and Jones have built momentum and chemistry, Darius Slayton is a quality receiver and Waller will provide an added threat. This should all translate to opposing defenses having to respect other weapons on Big Blue aside from Barkley.

With +3500 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, Barkley is an appealing value considering some of the names with shorter prices. If the G-Men utilize him to the fullest -- and he stays healthy -- Barkley very well could cash this market.

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.