Heading into the 2019 season, Saquon Barkley was one of the most coveted NFL players heading into Fantasy Football World Championship (FFWC) drafts. Unfortunately, Barkley was unable to live up to the immense expectations due to a nagging ankle injury that prevented him from playing in three games while keeping him hobbled in several others.
Now fully healthy, there is a great opportunity for Barkley to return to an elite RB1 in fantasy football in 2020. The oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook have posted Barkley’s total rushing yards prop at 1,250.5.
After finishing as fantasy's overall RB1 in his rookie season, Barkley's production took a tremendous regression in 2019. In year two, his touchdown total fell from 15 to 8 due to the aforementioned injury as well as playing behind a less than adequate offensive line.
Throughout Barkley’s tenure in New York, his offensive line has ranked 25th and 29th for run-blocking efficiency. The Giants made a huge attempt to correct that issue in last month’s draft when they selected talented Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick.
Despite this injury, Barkley was still able to finish the season as the overall RB10 in PPR fantasy leagues. In 13 games, he posted 1,003 rushing yards and six touchdowns. The biggest regression in Barkley’s numbers were seen in the receiving game, where he was only able to haul in 52 catches on 73 targets for 438 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers show a sharp decline from his rookie totals in 2018, when he made 91 receptions for 721 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
Bettors looking to back a rebound season for Barkley in 2020 will be happy to see the Giants now being run by former Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge, who selected former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett to serve as his offensive coordinator. Garrett has been known to structure his offense around the strengths of his star players (the success of Ezekiel Elliott, for example). Barkley is projected to see a strong volume of touches as the Giants’ most productive skill-player.
Upon a deeper dive, it's important to highlight that the former Penn State standout faced a loaded box on 11.52% of his rushing attempts according to NextGen NFL Stats. This dramatically raises Barkley’s projection ceiling because a successful downfield passing game, led by a healthy attack consisting of Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Golden Tate, will force defensive coordinators to refrain from loading the box in 2020.
My model projects for Barkley to rush for 1,283 yards while finding the endzone 11 total times. In PPR leagues, Barkley will finish among the top-five running backs barring any recurrence of a significant injury.
DraftKings Sportsbook has pegged Cleveland’s Nick Chubb with the highest rushing total on the board at 1,350 yards. Carolina’s Christian McCaffrey, who gained 1,387 yards in 2019, slides in just behind him at 1,300, followed by Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott at 1,275. Barkley is slotted in with the fourth-highest projection. Last year’s leading rusher, Tennessee’s Derrick Henry, led the league with 1,540 rushing yards.
Barkley only needs to average to 78.2 yards per game on the ground to surpass this number by the oddsmakers. As talented as the Giants are on the offensive side of the ball, improvements on the line and the historical reliance of Garrett to focus his gameplans around his stars make me willing to back a season of more than 1,251 rushing yards for the immensely talented running back.
The Play: OVER 1,250.5 Rushing Yards (-110)
MORE FROM SI GAMBLING
- Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: Match II Betting Advice
- NFL Prop Bet: How Many TDs will Henry Ruggs III Catch in 2020?
- 2020 Heisman Trophy Odds: Justin Fields Alone at the Top
- 2020 NFL Rookie Prop Betting Guide
- Who Goes No. 1 Overall in 2021 NFL Draft?
- 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Best Bets
- NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Best Bets and Longshot
- NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Best Bets and Longshot
- NFL Super Bowl Odds: Biggest Risers and Fallers Post-NFL Draft