2024 Fantasy Football Free Agency Fallout: Saquon Barkley Signs With the Philadelphia Eagles

Saquon Barkley New York Giants

The Philadelphia Eagles, who traded for D’Andre Swift and signed Rashaad Penny to fill their running back room last season went a little bit higher shelf with their roster decisions this season. They poached star running back Saquon Barkley from the division rival New York Giants. Saquads and the Eagles agreed on a three-year, $37.8 million dollar contract with $26 million guaranteed. Saquon, in the most Philadelphia move ever, then chose to pop off at Tiki Barber before introducing himself to the Phaithful (it’ll happen, let it happen) to 50 Cent’s “Many Men.” Maybe something from Meek Mill would have been more Philly, but considering Saquon chose the line “many men wish death upon me” as his opening salvo to Philly after Tiki Barber said Barkley was dead to him, it is the exact type of bombastic self-victimization that would make Nick Sirianni proud. Saquon Barkley joins the Eagles off of a strong 1,242-yard, 10-touchdown season with the Giants, but is his arrow pointed up or down for 2024? Should we put our chip on him for 2024 fantasy football leagues?

First and foremost, we need to address the Tush Push dragon in the room, as the immediate reaction to Saquon Barkley signing with the Eagles is that Jalen Hurts will steal all the goal-line carries from Barkley. This is partially true, but in reality, it’s not something that we should worry about. In 2023, Saquon Barkley finished with 100% of the Giants’ carries inside the five-yard line, which are the touchdown carries for fantasy football. Saquon is destined to take a huge step back in this department, as Jalen Hurts had 47.1% of the Eagles carries inside the five, whereas D’Andre Swift led the running backs with only 41.2%. But, I played a little joke. Saquon Barkley had just eight carries inside the five-yard line last season, whereas Swift had fourteen such carries. The offense in Philadelphia is so much better than the one in New York, and they will give Saquon many more opportunities to score in 2024. They’ll also block better for him, as well. The touchdowns won’t be an issue for Barkley in Philadelphia, despite Jalen Hurts taking some for himself here and there. 

Despite losing Jason Kelce to retirement, the Eagles still boast one of the better offensive lines in the NFL, and the Giants had one of the worst. Per FantasyPoints’ Data Suite, Saquon finished last season getting 1.24 yards before contact per carry, which ranked 33rd of 49 running backs with at least 100 carries last season. D’Andre Swift finished eighth in that statistic, at 2.21 yards before contact per attempt. If that doesn’t make you all hot and bothered, perhaps the Eagles being literally the best team in the league in ESPN’s Run Block Win Rate last season, and the Giants being second-worst might change your mind. The Eagles are going to plow the road for Saquon, and he will feast on the ground. If he gets 250 carries, he’s a shoo-in for 1,200 rushing yards.

But what about his receiving? Well, that’s where things get a little messy. The Eagles passed to their running backs 93 times last season, which ranked 21st in the league. That was a massive step up from their 2022 campaign, where their 61 running back targets ranked dead last. But, Saquon Barkley had 136 targets over that same time span, and the Giants ranked in the bottom half in running back targets those two seasons as well (17th and 19th, respectively). So, it’s not like there need to be a ton of running back targets to go around, Barkley just needs to dominate those targets. With no Swift or Penny, I don’t see a viable running back to steal a significant amount from Barkley, though I do believe he will sit around 60 targets or so, instead of the 80+ he could have gotten if he ended up with Green Bay or Tampa Bay. 

I am in on Saquon Barkley as a top-ten running back, heck I am even in on him as a top-eight running back. But, I feel like folks are using this move to bring him back up into the most elite backs in the league. He’s still eminently talented, so I get it. But, he still lost a little juice last season. According to PlayerProfiler, he ranked 46th in yards created per touch, and 48th in juke rate. That is enough to give me pause if he ends up as a late first or early second-round pick, which is where some folks will want to take him. For me, I am more comfortable with him in the middle of the second round, after the elite running backs and the second tier of wide receivers.

Barkley has a lot fewer question marks around him than guys like James Cook, Travis Etienne, Kyren Williams, and De’Von Achane. However, he can’t move past ascendant talent like Breece Hall, Jahymr Gibbs, or the designated Christian McCaffrey spot. There are also about a dozen wide receivers that I would rather have than Barkley, putting him firmly in round two as a top-ten back.

The Giants replaced Saquon Barkley with Devin Singletary, and that isn’t a move that is going to light the world on fire. Singletary is a wind-him-up-and-go 1,000 to 1,100 yards every year, kicking in 4-8 touchdowns. Not much about that will change about him in New York, and he will finish as a solid flex running back without much weekly boom upside. Personally, I’d let someone else take that plunge.

About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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