Breaking down the fantasy impact for Saquon Barkley, after the Odell Beckham Jr trade.
Is your head spinning from all of the NFL free agent signings and trades? The last week or so have certainly been a whirlwind of activity in the NFL. Every free agent player that is signed, or traded, has a ripple effect on the perceived fantasy value of players on their new, or former, teams. Saquon Barkley is one of the players who is getting the most recent social media attention, and one of the players getting the most significant dings to his fantasy value.
There’s a lot of negativity around the NY Giants because of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, and thus people are crapping all over Saquon’s value, as a side-effect. It’s indeed becoming a trending topic of discussion on Twitter, and it’s easy to get swept up in all of the negativity. So, if you’re thinking about trading Saquon in dynasty leagues, or not drafting him in redraft or bestball leagues, stop and think it through a bit. Remember, fantasy football is all about perceived value; you gain your advantages on other owners through a player’s ADP being too high, or too low. Sell high and buy low. You ride and take advantage of those waves of perceived value throughout the offseason, just like you do during the regular season.
Negative value causes:
First, let’s take a look at the type of hot takes/tweets that are pushing Barkley’s value down. Then well start analyzing them. [Scroll down, lots of examples here]
The Giants are about to turn Saquon Barkley into Barry Sanders, and I don’t mean that in a good way. A great player wasted on a bad team. pic.twitter.com/NQTtpUDwr7
— Will Cain (@willcain) March 14, 2019
Giants are in the schedule. 11 in the box. Rinse. Repeat.
Saquon Barkley – Week 1 pic.twitter.com/c1gjUOdeFt
— Pash (@TheAmir) March 13, 2019
Finally, I think this OBJ trade actually hurts Saquon. In four games without OBJ last year Saquon avg 5 fewer ppg than with OBJ. If defenses don’t have to account for the elite WR and passing game they’re going to focus on Saquon. His floor could be 2018 DJ, ceiling still top-5.
— Addison Hayes (@amazehayes_) March 13, 2019
Let’s sift through this a bit. You’ll probably hear that “Saquon Barkley is the new Barry Sanders” take, a thousand times (and most likely anyone who tries to trade FOR Barkley, from you, will reference it), over the next six months. Barry Sanders AVERAGED 1500 rushing yds & 10 rushing TDs, each season, and fantasy owners were drafting him for three years AFTER he retired because every year there were rumors of him maybe coming back. If Saquon is the next Barry Sanders…awesome! You don’t have to be a Giants fan; you’re a fantasy owner–the Giants winning a Super Bowl, or any game at all, means nothing to you (you do want them to be competitive in games though, so they don’t abandon the run and cost you points).
Saquon Barkley rushed for 141 yards and 1 TD when facing 8+ defenders in the box (8 carries) in Week 14 against the Redskins.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 9, 2018
Obviously, “11 guys-in-the-box” is a joke and an exaggeration, even ten guys are ludicrous, but eight guys…yeah, true. It’s the most common, gut-wrenching, reaction to the OBJ trade. Realistically, that’s probably something that will probably happen a bunch more to Saquon, now that Odell Beckham Jr is gone. He’s going to face some stacked defenses, at times, but that doesn’t mean his value has to take a hit because of it. Let’s take a look at the what happened with Barkley, last year, with and without OBJ (when he was facing those stacked defenses).
OBJ and Saquon played the first 12 games of the season together, in 2018. Barkley averaged 79.5 yards rushing, .67 rushing TDs, 50.2 yards receiving with 6.2 catches on 7.6 attempts per game.
In 4 games without OBJ, Barkley had: 88.3 yards rushing, .75 rushing TDs, 29.8 yards receiving with 4.25 catches on 7.5 attempts per game.
Look, RBs do better when there are fewer guys “in-the-box” opposing them, obviously, but even against stacked defenses, Saquon was putting up stats. Can he last a whole season doing that? Probably not, but he doesn’t have to…enter Golden Tate.
New @Giants WR Golden Tate has accumulated more yards after catch over the last 3 seasons (1,672) than any receiver in the NFL.@ShowtimeTate is expected to take over slot responsibilities with the Giants, aligning in the slot on 69% of snaps with the Lions & Eagles last season. pic.twitter.com/GQvTZC5wVe
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 14, 2019
The Giants signed to a free agent contract as a replacement for Odell Beckham Jr. Golden Tate isn’t OBJ, but he’s a solid WR, who had an off-year, due to injuries and switching teams, twice. He was wanted by several organizations, in the offseason, because he’s a pretty good slot WR, who can break away from would-be tacklers. Is Tate consistently going to draw a double team, like OBJ? No, but teams are going to account for him, and they aren’t going to cheat with safeties, (who are typically the 8th guy, in the box) because he can burn ya.
There is also upside in the fact that OBJ was averaging 12 targets/game for the Giants, and Golden Tate, even in his best years he averaged 7-9 targets a game. That’s 3-5 more targets that, most likely, Saquon will be the first or second option.
If you’re thinking about trading or not drafting Saquon Barkley, his perceived value is low(er), he’s definitely getting slammed, right now. If you have your heart set on trading him away, you’re going to get less for him than you should.
I get it, it’s not a fun thing to be going through, but this is early. By August that hype will be going the other way. People will start realizing that Saquon has the possibility, without OBJ/with stacked defenses or not, to average 80-90 rushing yards, with 10 rushing TDs (plus a couple more through the air), and 9-10 targets/game. Those are a cornerstone, fantasy running back #s. The type of player that can put up those stats (or better) can be “the guy” you hammer the other teams in your league by playing. He’s a guy you trade for or draft high, not trade away or avoid.
Sell high, buy low–perceived value is there for you take advantage of…not be taken advantage of. Don’t panic.
[**Millenials: I’m leaving you a youtube clip of Barry Sanders below. Be ready to be awed.]
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