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The Giants selected Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft on Thursday night, and Fantasy owners are hoping he follows in the footsteps of Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette as recent running backs who made an immediate impact as a rookie.
And he will.
In 2015, Gurley was the No. 5 running back in standard leagues in his rookie campaign. Elliott was No. 2 in his first year in 2016. And Fournette finished No. 8 as a rookie last year.
The reason to compare Barkley to those three guys is each of them was the first running back drafted in their respective class. And all three made an impact in Fantasy and reality. Barkley will do the same.
At Penn State, Barkley was a star. In 2017, Barkley had 217 carries for 1,271 yards (5.9-yards per carry) and 18 touchdowns and 54 catches for 632 yards and three touchdowns. He had at least 1,800 total yards and 21 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.
He will immediately become the starter for the Giants despite the presence of Jonathan Stewart and Wayne Gallman. The Giants didn't make this move to put Barkley on the bench, and he should dominate touches.
Now, the big question for Fantasy owners will be Barkley playing behind a suspect offensive line for the Giants. While they added Nate Solder at left tackle and Patrick Omameh at left guard, this is still a unit that needs some work. But Barkley will likely make them look better than they actually are. He's that good.
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And keep in mind that last season Orleans Darkwa, the best running back for the Giants, scored at least nine Fantasy points in a standard league in six games, and he didn't start getting increased touches until Week 5. Gallman also had some productive moments as a rookie in 2017, especially catching the ball out of the backfield with four games with at least five catches.
Barkley is a superior talent to Darkwa and Gallman, and he will benefit with Odell Beckham (leg) playing a full season after he was limited to just four games last year. Sterling Shepard also missed five games due to injury last year and should be healthy, and Evan Engram should be better in his second season.
Eli Manning will also improve with all the weapons around him, and Barkley will improve this entire offense -- much like Gurley did with the Rams, Elliott did with the Cowboys and Fournette did with the Jaguars.
Barkley will have that type of impact with the Giants, and he should be drafted toward the end of Round 1 or beginning of Round 2 in the majority of leagues. In auction formats, Barkley is worth $20-$25 depending on your budget. His early projections should be about 1,500 total yards and eight total touchdowns.
In dynasty leagues, Barkley is the No. 1 overall pick in all rookie drafts. He's a difference maker for the Giants and Fantasy owners, and he should be a star as a rookie in 2018.