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Saquon Barkley: Fantasy Football outlook for the 2022 NFL season

Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are a fantasy football player’s worst nightmare for the 2022 NFL season. There doesn’t seem to be much value from anywhere on the team and all the best players come with extreme risk. The one key player whose situation is worth examining is Saquon Barkley.

The new front office in charge of the Giants decided to keep Barkley this offseason. There were plenty of rumors suggesting he was on the trade block but instead will be back for year No. 5 in East Rutherford.

In 13 games last season, Barkley looked like a shell of himself. He tallied only 856 total yards and four touchdowns (two each rushing and receiving). His rushing totals from his first two seasons eclipsed 1,000 yards and his yards from scrimmage were each more than 1,400.

Barkley’s average draft position on NFL.com is 34.32, which suggests he is more cut out to be a complementary back in fantasy football than a lead one. His outlook for the 2022 fantasy football season is a bit murky but not completely terrible.

Saquon Barkley 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook

Early in his NFL career, Barkley was nothing short of a fantasy football legend. According to Football Reference, he was the second most valuable player in the whole league as a rookie. He ranked 21st in his second season despite playing only 13 games, fewer than anyone in the top 30. The Penn State product was a threat to make big plays and pick up yards in bunches.

The former second overall pick is now a far cry from where he once was. Injuries have kept him out of games and are chipping away at his abilities. If he plays like he did last season, he would hardly be worth a roster spot in fantasy football. However, there are a few factors that should allow him to bounce back in addition to his improving health.

Head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka should put him in the best spots to succeed. They are already trying him out at receiver in some looks. Regardless of where he lines up, he should be a key player in the Giants’ offense.

The Giants will most likely feature Barkley as their premier weapon for Daniel Jones. Although wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney will get plenty of attention in the passing game, the ground game belongs to Saquon. His key backup from last season is gone (though he could be back eventually) and his backup is Matt Breida, a career-long reserve that shouldn’t challenge for his starting spot.

Of course, the Giants’ opponents can lean harder into run-stopping looks thanks to Jones’ inconstancy and questionable receiving core. Even though their offensive line is going to be much better, stopping a one-dimensional offense should not be too difficult. The injury concerns still loom with Barkley. Fantasy football managers won’t be able to go a week without checking up on the Giants’ injury report.

So, where does this leave managers for fantasy football? When it comes to Barkley, it is best to see him as a fringe RB2 or solid RB3 and draft him somewhere in rounds four to six.

The talent everyone knows Barkley has in him has yet to be seen in recent years. The possibility that he gets back to business is possible but not worth betting on. New York has a better offensive line and better coaches and he has claimed several times this offseason that is good to go physically. He is motivated to become a star once again and such pressure could help him this season.

Barkley’s ability to produce at a very high level is still questionable but the likelihood that he bounces back is nothing to sneeze at. A reliable offensive line should help him get his confidence back. He should be the focal point of an offense and could be a top contributor if he remains healthy, though that if is giant.

The chances of Barkley returning to his past form are very slim. But with a better infrastructure around him, he is worth taking a chance on. He could reasonably put up around 1,000 all-purpose yards and eight-to-10 touchdowns this season, which would put him near the top of the league but not the very top.

The 2022 season should be the best season that Saquon Barkley has had in a while. However, it wouldn’t take much to get it. Because he will be the Giants’ key offensive weapon and carries serious injury concern, he is worth taking early on but not in the top two rounds.