Fantasy football is very much a game of buying and selling at the right time. With that in mind and the midway point in the fantasy season quickly approaching, how should managers treat New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley?
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The Case To Trade Away Saquon Barkley
The thirst for running backs is real. Nick Chubb is out for the season, De’Von Achane is on the shelf, Austin Ekeler is set to return to action tonight, and Christian McCaffrey was banged up on Sunday — you get the idea.
It feels like you either paid up for a running back who has missed time or you waited and are trying to piece together the position (we feel your pain, Jonathan Taylor, Rhamondre Stevenson, James Conner, Javonte Williams, and Khalil Herbert managers).
The fact of the matter is that the running back trade market is a seller’s one. The supply is far exceeded by the demand, and that allows you to turn a profit if you’re taking calculated risks.
Moving on from Barkley is a wise, calculated risk. His first 18 carries picked up 32 yards against the Bills, and that was less than his expected rate for those attempts (43 yards).
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Yes, he saved the day with a few big runs in succession, and that is what Barkley is about, but you’re walking a thin line if you’re counting on a back who, for the majority of Week 6, was gaining less than what was blocked for him by a struggling offensive line.
Saquon Barkley told NBC before the game he had to see about pain and cutting off the ankle. Couple times he’s had trouble cutting to the right. The last time he tried he fell to the ground. Previous time he came out of game afterwards. Clearly not 100%. #Giants
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) October 16, 2023
Of course, this was his first game back from a high ankle sprain, and the limited efficiency could be blamed on that. Very possible. But he’s always been a risk/reward runner, and behind this line and in an offense that doesn’t threaten defenses through the air, that’s not exactly a perfect match.
The team situation and schedule certainly don’t help Barkley. The Giants aren’t likely to make any noise this season and could well benefit from losing more than winning down the stretch. Combine that with Barkley being on a one-year deal and wanting to stay healthy for his next suitor — is there no inherent risk in this profile?
Even if he plays all the way through this season (clearly not a given), are we sure he’s a surefire top-10 running back? The Giants play stable defenses in the Jets and Cowboys over the next month. Heck, they get the Commanders next week (and in Week 11), a unit that just held Falcon running backs to 3.3 yards per carry.
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Look even further down the road, and it gets worse. They get a Week 13 bye before ending the season with the Packers, Saints, Rams, and both of their meetings with the Eagles. That’s a tough stretch for a running back (and a team) with an eye on the future more than the present.
This isn’t me saying that you sell Barkley for a bag of peanuts and be on your way. His box score against the Bills in his return to action was good enough to generate optimism.
Take the temperature of your league. Check out the rosters of your opponents and see who is in desperation mode, either at the RB position or in the standings. Systematically target your trade partner and see where the discussions go.
For reference, here are my rest-of-season RB rankings:
8. Joe Mixon | CIN
9. Isiah Pacheco | KC
10. D’Andre Swift | PHI
11. David Montgomery | DET (health permitting)
12. Saquon Barkley | NYG
13. Derrick Henry | TEN
14. Jonathan Taylor | IND
15. Aaron Jones | GB
Could you get Mixon for Barkley with Cincinnati on a bye this week? Could you get Jones and a Flex-ish receiver for Barkley, with Jones yet to prove his full health? That’s an option, and in trading for Jones, you get the benefit of having the bye week in your rearview.
Don’t settle. Don’t force it. Just consider it and see where the Barkley manager sits in the standings and how his/her roster is put together.
Fantasy Start/Sit: Every Game, Every Player
Looking to get more advice for this week’s action? PFN Fantasy Analyst Kyle Soppe has analyzed every fantasy-relevant player in every game this week. Use the table below to find the matchup you’re looking for.
Prefer to read every matchup all at once? Check out our Week 6 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet.