Editor’s Note: To help you dominate your rookie drafts, this series will feature a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of over 40 dynasty rookie draft prospects and run all through the month of May and even into June. We’ll cover all the premier prospects but also give you critical information on some of the lesser known talents. All of these rookie updates will be loaded into our ever-evolving 2018 Rookie Draft Guide – the ultimate resource for dynasty enthusiasts all over the world.
Name: Saquon Barkley
Born: February 2, 1997
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: New York Giants
College Team: Penn State Nittany Lions
Draft Status: Round one, second overall
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 233 pounds
- Hand Size: 9.5”
- 40 Time: 4.40 seconds
- Bench Press: 29 reps
- Vertical Jump: 41”
- Broad Jump: N/A
- Short Shuttle: 4.24 seconds
- 3 Cone Drill: N/A
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- Fantastic human being
- Feet, lateral agility, and burst of an elite athlete who is 50 pounds lighter
- Possesses a physics-defying jump cut
- Good vision
- Excellent feel for the position (most of the time)
- Polished route runner who gains separation with ease
- Soft hands
- Pushes the pace like MMA fighter Nick Diaz on Adderall while somehow still staying under control
- Keeps his eyes up, always looking for a clear lane or cutback opportunity
- Routinely embarrasses would-be tacklers in the open field
- Seemingly hits top speed in two steps
- Can try too hard at times
- Doesn’t play as powerful as his frame and workout numbers would suggest
- Needs to learn to follow play design more consistently
- Doesn’t always get upfield with urgency
- Isn’t going to push a pile
- Hasn’t actually been proven to be the Messiah (but we know better)
Unless the Giants go old school and make him work behind Jonathan Stewart early in the season, Barkley is going to come in and see 20-25 touches every week from the get-go. There are no passing game specialists or goal line backs to steal reps. It is Saquon, a washed up Stewart, and a couple of guys who may be out of the league by the time this gets published.
I guess maybe his car service driver could end up being a deranged stalker who takes him to a cabin upstate, ties him to a bed, and reads him Dr. Seuss books for four straight days, only feeding him the marshmallows from a bag of generic Lucky Charms, before he is finally rescued by Dave Gettleman in an ill-fitting Aquaman costume.
It’s possible things don’t go exactly as planned for New York this year. Maybe their offensive line additions don’t meld into something passable after last years’ sieve up front. Perhaps Eli Manning isn’t just declining, but totally cooked. Maybe Odell Beckham’s contract situation becomes a colossal distraction. Even if all three of those things happen, Barkley is still going to push 350 touches.
Those touches should see a nice split between rushing and receiving. Expect somewhere around 250-275 attempts on the ground, depending on how insistent they are to work in Stewart, and another 50-70 through the air. With that sort of workload, double-digit touchdowns is an achievable goal.
Considering the recent ADP trends of young running backs, even if Barkley doesn’t have a huge season, his value should hold, or even rise. Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette, and Joe Mixon, who had three wildly different rookie campaigns, all saw their ADP climb year-over. Cook had only 85 touches, Fournette was a low-end RB1 who averaged 3.9 YPC, and Mixon flopped entirely with an RB32 finish, 3.5 YPC, and only six games above 10 PPR points. That their values all increased should tell you all you need to know about how safe Saquon is.
I’ve had some fun with this profile thus far, and this may sound utterly foolish, but considering Barkley is the best prospect I’ve evaluated in the seven or eight years I’ve been doing this fantasy thing seriously, I expect him to be the best running back of a generation. He is a fantastic player in a fantastic spot with all the opportunity in the world. Assuming he stays healthy, something we always have to be wary of, especially with running backs, the results will be truly special.
NFL Player Comparison
If David Johnson and Barry Sanders had a rocked up baby, it would be Saquon. Weirdly enough, the way he destroys angles in the middle of a defense also reminds me of Mike Vick in his prime. Nobody expects a back that big to get moving that fast that quickly.
To be fair to those who aren’t as enamored with Barkley as I am, he doesn’t only share Johnson’s size/explosion/pass prowess traits. They are also both players who can struggle between the tackles. Johnson often passes on an easy two yards up the gut to look for a home run. His overwhelming physical traits allow him to get away with it, so it isn’t always noticeable to the layperson.
The same goes for Barkley, but perhaps even more so. His foot speed and ability to jump cut masks his occasional foray outside the intended design of a play. Johnson has improved greatly in this area over the years, so there is no reason to expect the uber-committed to self-improvement Barkley not to do the same.
Rookie Draft Advice
This is the easiest 1.01 pick of my dynasty career. Don’t get cute, don’t trade out, just make the pick. If you aren’t a fan of Barkley, check yourself into the hospital. When you are done getting the professional help you need, draft him and hold on for at least a few months. His value is only going to climb between now and next off-season.
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