Why Saquon will definitely not be a top 3 RB in 2022

The Saquon Barkley hype train seems to be in full motion, and I’ve seen people dreaming of him to become a fantasy RB1 once more. Maybe even a top 3 RB.

Not gonna happen.

Let’s look at the rushing production first:

2021 RB#1: Jonathan Taylor
332 touches for 1,811 yards, 18 TDs

2021 RB#3: Joe Mixon
237 touches for 1,168 yards, 8 TDs

2021 Giants team (!) volume:
419 rush attempts for 1,688 yards, 8 TDs

JT and Mixon had a volume share of around 70% in their teams. That was enough to produce almost as much volume as the entire Giants rushing offense. Even more, in JT’s case.

But Saquon has passing upside, like 2021 RB#2 Austin Ekeler, right?

Ekeler saw 94 targets that he turned into 70 catches for 647 yards and 8 TDs. That was a 15% share in the passing game, which is a lot for an RB.

Saquon can easily get 15% of the targets in New York. It’s actually what I projected for him.

But the 2021 Chargers were the 2nd best passing offense. They threw for 5,021 yards and 38 TDs. The Giants threw for 3,196 and 15 TDs.

Had Ekeler been a member of the 2021 Giants and had received the exact same volume shares there as he did in Los Angeles, he’d have finished the season outside of the RB1 range in fantasy.

Brian Daboll is an excellent coach, and the Giants are likely to improve under him.

But they won’t all of a sudden become the new Colts in terms of rushing, and the new Chargers in terms of passing.

And that’s why Saquon is no elite RB prospect in 2022. He’s a rock solid fantasy RB2 with low-end RB1 upside and a pretty safe floor, thanks to the lack of competition on the roster. If he stays healthy, maybe he can just barely sneak into the top 10. But that’s his ceiling.

Ignore the hype train. Don’t overdraft him.

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I would add one thing to what you said: We have no idea if Brian Daboll is a good coach. Sure, the Bills were good last year. The NFL former head coaches garbage heap is littered with assistants for good teams…

I’m not saying Daboll can’t win with the Giants. But it will take a herculean effort from the rookie head coach to make lemonade out of these lemons.

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I’m actually quite optimistic about Daboll. But with all the great things he did in Buffalo, the one thing he didn’t accomplish is producing a fantasy RB1.

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Don’t mistake what I said for cynicism over Daboll himself, but rather cynicism about his team. Daniel Jones should not be a starting QB. Saquon isn’t what he was when he was a rookie (whether that is due to injuries or just lack of talent around him is another discussion), the WR’s range from flaky talent like Kadarius Toney to injury-riddled Kenny Galloday, and is there a TE here? And the defense is a non-starter. This team is a first pick in the draft waiting to happen. Don’t be surprised if Daboll gets run out of town before getting a chance to prove himself. This dumpster fire of a team will burn any coach.

On the other hand, if Daboll can pull a .500 record out of these losers, he deserves coach of the year.

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The 2018 Bills weren’t any better. Josh Allen’s rookie season was disastrous. 52.8% completion rate, a 10-12 TD-INT ratio and an average passer rating of 67.9 - they were about to chase him out of town after that year. Talent-wise, the rest of the roster didn’t look any better. They finished the year with a 6-10 record.

2019 was better, but not by much. Allen showed small signs of improvement, and an ageing John Brown and Frank Gore even helped them making the playoffs with a 10-7 record, only to get eliminated by the Houston Texans in the wildcard game.

And in 2020, they had finally turned around, brought in more talent and finished the next 2 seasons 13-3 and 11-6. Josh Allen is one of the better NFL QBs (though his passing stats still aren’t that great) and one of the best fantasy QBs.

Now, we don’t know how much of that is Daboll’s work, but he certainly did contribute. But even if it is all him, and he can repeat it in New York City - it still took him 2 full seasons to turn the Bills around. We cannot expect him to do the same with the Giants in just one offseason.

Daniel Bellinger is one of the more interesting dynasty rookie TEs of this class. He won’t be of much use in his first 2 years. But if the Giants will improve in the coming years, he could become one of the better fantasy TEs on the market by 2024.

I intend to pick him with the 4.01 in my main league and stash him on the taxi squad for 2 years.

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Note the Bills offense didn’t really improve until they got an alpha receiver (Diggs). The Giants don’t have a true alpha, unless Toney can step it up, and I doubt his head is in that place. Meanwhile, a 6-11 record seems about right for what the Giants have now talent-wise, and I’d call that optimistic.

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Their schedule isn’t terrible. I wouldn’t be shocked if they finished 8-9. Nor if they finished 4-13. But at the end of the day, that doesn’t really matter for fantasy purposes. If they lost all those 13 games 38-42, they’d be a killer fantasy team.

But that would be a sensation in itself. The Giants were dead last in TDs both in 2021 (23) and 2020 (25).

In other words: the 2021 Giants had only 3 more team TDs than Jonathan Taylor or Austin Ekeler scored alone.

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There can’t be too many people thinking top 3 when they look at Barkley; he only recently moved up from an early 3rd round pick to a late 2nd round pick.

True. But there are a couple of analysts who repeatedly label Saquon with top 5 or even top 3 upside.

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I don’t see the Giants as good enough to provide Saquon with top-anything upside. And that means defenses will still be focused on shutting him down, which in turn likely means more injuries for him. Saquon is a big “pass” for me, unless he drops into the double-digit rounds.

They get paid to get clicks, and saying something outrageous in the preseason is a good way to go about it.