You’ve heard all the rumblings at this point.
“He missed most of last year!” they said.
“He’s still banged up!”
“No way he’ll be at 100%!”
The list goes on and on and on.
Yet Saquon Barkley remains one of the largest enigmas in all of fantasy football in this year of our Lord 2021.
As a rookie in 2018, Barkley was the best fantasy player in all of professional football. Since then, injury-prone seasons have caused many missed games, leaving many wondering when he is worth picking up, or if he’s even worth the potential roster headache at all.
Well, fear no more, fantasy football friends. Let’s take a look at Saquon’s unique situation, who is definitely worth drafting ahead of him, and where he could conceivably be selected into your lineup without causing an explosion of laugh-emojis in the chat.
The Saquon Situation
He’s hurt. We know that. Anyone who drafted him last year with an early pick will kindly remind you of that. Tearing an ACL is no joke, especially for a running back. This is an injury he should not be rushed back from. That much is clear.
However, with week one looming and uncertainty in the air, no one is sure if he will even be ready to play when the season starts. That’s a big deal in fantasy.
When using an early pick, you expect double-digit points every week. Missing even one week from a round-1 draft pick is usually enough to cause scrambling, so not knowing when Saquon will return does hurt his stock.
Think of it this way: If we all KNEW Saquon was 100% and played a good couple snaps in the pre-season, he is a top-5, even top-3 pick. The volume is there, there is no threat behind him in the roster. He is the guy, and in a league with so few “the guys”, he’s worth the early selection, even behind a shaky offensive line and poor quarterback play.
This is not the case.
Who’s Ahead of Him?
The question now still remains: Where is it safe to take Saquon? Let’s take a look at the people taken ahead of him. (Standard scoring)
- Christian McCaffrey
- Dalvin Cook
- Derrick Henry
- Alvin Kamara
- Ezekial Elliot
- Nick Chubb
- Davante Adams
- Aaron Jones
- Jonathan Taylor
That’s a pretty long list for a guy who was the number one fantasy player just a few years before. Saquon is currently RB9, with the only non-RB being the fantasy game-breaker that is Davante Adams.
The next RB who was taken after Saquon? Najee Harris. Something just feels wrong about that.
Saquon is still ahead of some big names at the moment, such as;
- Tyreek Hill
- Travis Kelce
- Najee Harris
- Patrick Mahomes
- Austin Ekeler
- Stefon Diggs
- Antonio Gibson
- D.K. Metcalf
- Joe Mixon
- DeAndre Hopkins
Frankly, some of these players should probably be ahead of Saquon, at least until there is more clarity from the Giants camp.
So, let’s go pick-by-pick, and see who you should take if given the opportunity until Saquon is the best player available.
Pick 1: Christian McCaffery
This is a no-brainer. Even with a new QB and coming off an injury, the dude is a fantasy star. Obvious number-one pick. Moving on.
Pick 2: Dalvin Cook
Another no-brainer. Despite some injury concerns, he has been dependable and often a league-winner. You’re happy to have him here.
Pick 3: Derrick Henry
His lack of passing game inclusion is the only thing ticking him down here. Henry is a beast who will get his touches. Next question.
Pick 4: Alvin Kamara
This is where it finally starts getting interesting. Record-breaking games (that cost me hundreds of dollars) aside, there is a new QB in New Orleans, and Winston is no Brees. No Michael Thomas for a few weeks means that yes, the offense will likely go through Kamara, but I am not sure he is as big a threat without a HoF QB behind the line. Is he worth the 4th spot? Unsure. Is he worth going ahead of Saquon? At this time, probably.
Pick 5: Ezekial Elliot
Workhorse. When healthy, this offense was clicking on all cylinders. Zeke is a big part of this offense. Easy selection.
Pick 6: Nick Chubb
Chubb is a beast. Even with Kareem Hunt at his heels, Chubb is the obvious back in an offense that works. No-brainer.
WHERE THINGS START TO GET INTERESTING…
Pick 7: Davante Adams
No top-2 neccesary here. Adams is the #1 receiver in the game. Is this a little early for a WR with some quality RB’s on the board? Maybe. But the guaranteed workhorses are gone, so taking a stab with the most targeted WR in the game is not a bad idea. Better than Saquon? Also likely. Uncertainty is the key here. Snag Adams.
Pick 8: Aaron Jones
Pretty clear #1 whose only concern is a goal-line vulture with quads for days behind him. You are thrilled with Jones here.
Pick 9: Jonathan Taylor
Here is where I start thinking Barkley is viable. Taylor may have been a star towards the end of the season last year, but the Colts are weird. They may build a committee around him, which lessens his usage.
If you are willing to take a risk, Saquon can first be taken here.
Pick 10: Tyreek Hill
Fastest WR in the NFL with a young, MVP QB. Hill is a beast, and with many top RB’s gone, I think you can take either, depending on what you value in this spot.
Pick 11: Travis Kelce
Similar to the last guy, he is a number one choice at his position. This depends on what you value, but Saquon could be taken here without much issue.
Pick 12: Najee Harris
I think we have reached where I am finally comfortable taking the risk with Saquon. Najee will likely be a fine player, but there are no guarantees at this point. Hell, I’d take Ekeler instead, as he’s a proven commodity in a potent offense.
This is where Saquon starts looking like a good choice, if available.
Pick 13: Patrick Mahomes
Silly to take a QB this early. I’d take Saquon here.
Pick 14: Austin Ekeler
Shocked he’s going this low. If you are in a competent league, Ekeler isn’t around at this point.
After this point, I’m willing to take the risk with Saquon.
So that’s it. If you are in a 10-12 team league, see if you can hold off until the 2nd round. In a 14 team league, Saquon is a potential steal at the tail end of round one. All that matters is whether or not you are willing to take the risk, as I did with the 13th pick in one of my leagues.
All I can really say is, if you are taking Saquon this year…good luck.
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