Fantasy Football Fallout: Saquon Barkley Joins the Eagles

In what was one the largest signings of the day from a fantasy perspective, Saquon Barkley and the Eagles agreed to a three-year contract on the opening day of the free agency period.

After two injury-filled seasons in 2020-2021, Barkley has bounced back as the RB5 and RB13 in overall PPR scoring in each of the past two seasons.

Saquon Barkley Career Stats

YearAtt.RuYDYPCRuTDTgtRecReYdReTDPPR/Gm
201826113075.01112191721424.1
201921710034.667352438218.8
202019341.80966007.7
20211625933.725741263211.4
202229513124.4107657338017.8
20232479623.966041280415.9

After being selected as the No. 2 pick in the draft in 2018, Barkley has not quite been able to match his rookie season success and career expectations.

Let’s get under the hood on Barkley’s advanced output operating as a high-volume player in a limited offense.

Saquon Barkley Advanced Stats

yearEPA/AttLightBox%Success%Explosive%Stuff%1D/RshYBC/AttYAC/Att
2018-0.0719.9%34.9%11.9%23.4%19.2%1.673.34
2019-0.1022.6%37.8%12.4%21.2%20.7%1.43.23
2020-0.4710.5%26.3%5.3%47.4%5.3%-0.422.21
2021-0.1625.3%32.1%5.6%21.0%16.7%0.982.69
2022-0.0625.1%35.3%10.8%17.3%21.0%1.672.78
2023-0.2032.4%34.4%10.5%25.1%20.6%0.982.91

Despite having a career-high rate of runs against light boxes in 2023, Barkley still ranked 36th in success rate and 21st in rate of runs to gain 10 or more yards.

Barkley’s yards after contact per carry did rise from 2022, but you can see how those 2020-2021 seasons may have zapped some of the juice that Barkley showed as a prospect and early in his NFL career.

That said, Barkley has also been forced to carry offenses that have struggled top-down and have had next to zero blue-chip assets outside of him.

Keep track of every important signing in our 2024 Free Agency Tracker

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Saquon Barkley 2024 Fantasy Football Outlook

The Giants have won more than six games just once since drafting Barkley and have never finished higher than 15th in points per game over that stretch.

Three times over those six seasons, the Giants were 30th or worse in scoring.

The Eagles have finished 12th, third, and eighth in scoring over the past three seasons with Jalen Hurts as their quarterback.

You can certainly use Barkley as evidence that no team should draft a running back before having their franchise quarterback in place, and Barkley himself was a symptom of the lack of success those offenses had.

Moving on to the Eagles, however, Barkley will be given new life as a component of an offense rather than the engine.

The Eagles already have A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith outside of Hurts in place as players opposing defenses account for based on their merit.

Barkley has not played with an elite offensive teammate since Odell Beckham, and that came for just one season.

The Eagles are also looking for improvement after their running game took a step back last season from a dominant 2022.

Eagles RBs 2022 vs. 2023:

Category2022Rank2023Rank
EPA/Att.0.061-0.0511
Success%45.2%140.8%5
Explosive%13.7%39.8%15
1D/TD%25.9%321.8%15
YBC/Att1.8931.861
YAC/Att2.85202.5230

The Eagles went from nearly leading the league in every backfield rushing area in 2022 to falling back towards the middle of the league last season.

A few things jump up out here.

The first is that this offensive line is still doing its part.

The Eagles have been third and first in yards before contact per running back rush the past two years.

Philadelphia was first in the NFL in run block win rate (77%) per ESPN in 2023. Per Pro Football Focus, the Eagles were third in collective run blocking grade.

The Giants were 31st in ESPN’s run block win rate (67%) and ranked 30th in run blocking grade as a team per PFF.

Even with the retirement of Jason Kelce, this is a massive step up in offensive line talent for Barkley.

Through Miles Sanders, D’Andre Swift, and Kenneth Gainwell, the Eagles have not had consistent backs in generating yards after contact despite how good the team has been at giving those backs room.

Even in 2022, their backfield was 20th in the league in yards created after contact per carry.

Swift was 46th in yards after contact per rush (2.44) in 2023.

Even though Barkley has not been over 3.0 yards after contact per carry since his first two seasons in the league, he was still well above Swift in 2023.

The rate of Philadelphia backfield runs to result in a first down or touchdown declined.

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